By Fr. Nicholas Harding, OMI
On Thursday, June 25, 2020 Oblates had a farewell dinner at Santa Rosa Hall with lay leadership, including Oblate Associates.. The number of people was limited to due Coronavirus restrictions. There were speeches, testimonies, anecdotes and bittersweet, tearful moments giving thanks for 95 years of OMIs at Santa Rosa. Carlos Alarcon commented a bishop once described Santa Rosa as “un jardin de rosas de Dios.”
On Friday, June 26, at the Eucharist we were honored by the presence of our regional Bishop Alejandro Aclan and retired Bishop Gerald Wilkerson. Bishop Wilkerson repeated several times he was “heart-broken” that the Oblates were leaving. Fr Luis Valbuena, having served since 1966 in the San Fernando Valley, recited an impressive litany of OMI accomplishments in the area: the various parishes, the Occupational Center (first bilingual in USA, estimated one million who have benefitted from the human integral development offered), the High Schools, Credit Union (millions loaned), Santa Rosa Scholarship Association, hospital chaplaincy. Santa Rosa was the center for Rescue and Relief after the 1972 Earthquake (President Richard Nixon bestowed a recognition on Santa Rosa…not to cause envy in other Oblate parishes).
Fr. Tom Rush highlighted how Oblate ministry is covenant with the people to form community/family….a place to encounter Jesus Christ crucified and his love , for conversion and growth in faith and hope. As a missionary parish all laity are called to be formed as disciples and evangelize. A theme was that as missionaries, it is normal for OMI’s to eventually turn over the parish to the diocese and begin elsewhere where there is greater need.
A long list of Oblates, now deceased, who served at Santa Rosa was read. Also, mention was made of Oblate vocations from Santa Rosa and the need for continued promotion thereof.
The video below was produced in Spanish only for the occasion by Esther Lazo and Valores Media a ministry in Santa Rosa de Lima Parish.