Dear Oblates of Mary Immaculate and Members of the Mazenodian Family,
I hope and pray each one of you is well!
During this national health crisis, I will be communicating with you more often via this province Oblate website, on a weekly basis, as well as in our regular printed publications.
This is a trying time for us all. The more we can support each other, offer hope to one another, share positive stories of ministering to each other, the more we can carry on with a sense of purpose and normalcy. The fact that we need to maintain a physical distance from each other obviously does not mean that we cannot continue to minister in many other ways! This is where we who share in the Oblate charism shine: in our ministry and care to and for one another. This is the Oblate charism at its best. In this crisis, all of us are feeling fragile and fearful and in need of a listening ear, an understanding heart, a compassionate word.
At this time, I am not aware of any Oblate in the world who has contracted the virus. Thank God for that. Many of you probably know of someone, maybe even someone in your family or a friend, who has the virus. Let’s all remember them in our prayers and remember their caregivers as well. So many are giving their time and professional expertise helping others who are very sick and they need our prayers and thanks! They are doing superb, selfless work.
I am very thankful to so many of you who have been communicating with me about the Oblates in your community, the employees and their concerns, your ministry site. Please continue to let me know how things are progressing as this pandemic continues to make us all vulnerable.
A few updates specifically directed to the Oblates:
We are meeting in council this week. None of the council members traveled to Washington for the meeting. I gave them the option and I am glad none of them will travel for the meeting.
Fathers Jim Brobst, Jim Chambers and I have been here in Washington this past week. Fr. Art Flores is in San Antonio and will stay there. His father is in assisted living there so Art is able to visit him periodically.
Fr. Warren Brown, OMI, General Councilor for Canada-U.S. is in San Antonio and will continue his consultations with you about future leadership in our province. He will now do this electronically. Please keep your currently scheduled local times to meet as a community. We are arranging more specific instructions on how individual Oblates can also speak with him if they wish.
During the first day of the council meeting, we spoke with all of our Oblate Superiors, asking them how we can help them in their ministry during this challenging time. We also gave them the opportunity to offer ideas about future Oblate meetings and they were very helpful to us. I am very grateful for the challenging ministry they do, especially during these difficult days!
On Tuesday, the council confirmed the recommendation of the OST Board of Dr. Scott Woodward, current Academic Dean at Oblate School of Theology, to become President of the school, beginning January 1, 2021. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, will take a sabbatical in January and then return to the school to teach. Ken Hannon, OMI, who has taught at the school 43 years, will become Academic Dean, replacing Woodward. Ken will continue to teach part-time.
I want to assure each of you that good communication will continue during this crisis. Maybe it will be better than it was before!
A word to our Oblate employees:
With about 600 of you serving in the province, there are many different situations and circumstances. We hope to address them in a way that is as effective and timely as possible, having begun that process this past Friday. I know there are many questions that remain and there will be more questions and concerns into the future. I am grateful for your patience as we continue, along with our Human Resource persons, to be fair and just with all our employees. I know we face some tough decisions ahead.
I am happy to let our hourly and part-time employees know that they will continue to receive their usual pay for the coming week and a half. Next week, you will receive an update about this and continued updates beyond that. Our exempt (non-hourly) employees will also continue to receive their usual pay. Oblate Superiors, Directors and Administrators of our ministries will continue to receive communications and updates as they did this past Friday.
Some of our ministries may have to close for a period of time. I ask those same directors and administrators to please be in communication with Fr. Jim Chambers, OMI or Fr. Rocky Grimard, OMI about such issues, or with one of our Human Resource persons. You received their contact information in the memo that was sent out this past Friday.
It is undoubtedly true that during times of crisis we think about and even bring to prayer how grateful we all are for each other and come to more deeply appreciate the goodness and generosity of one another. I hope that is the case for each one of you.
I personally am very grateful to each one of you, Oblates and Mazenodian Family, for your good example of un-tiring ministry, love of the Oblate charism, dedication to the work you do, and service to the people of God.
Let’s all be mindful to be especially kind and patient with one another and take some extra time, if we can find it these days to pray to God that this virus will soon end.
God bless each of you. Stay healthy and safe.
In Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Louis Studer, OMI,