Reported by Fr. David Muñoz, OMI
The Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies Reaches Latin America
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us to be resourceful at a time when social distancing is so important, and travel is challenging. Internet communication platforms have become a new way of connecting, conferencing, teaching, and learning. Since its establishment in 2017, the Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies has used these various internet communication platforms to help Oblates, formators in the Congregation, and lay members associated to the charism to become more familiar with the charism, spirituality, history, and mission of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was established through the generosity of Deacon Robert and Mrs. Ruth Kusenberger. Currently the chair is held by Fr. Frank Santucci, OMI. He collaborates with a team of two other Oblates: Fr. David Muñoz, OMI, and Fr. Bonga Thami Majola, OMI.
Part of the mission of the Kusenberger Chair is to educate. On August 14, 2020, Fr. David Muñoz, was invited by Fr. Cleber Lopes, OMI, of the Brazilian Province, to speak to those in charge of first formation in the Latin American and Caribbean region via ZOOM conferencing. Formators logged in from Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Haiti, and the Province of Cruz del Sur.
The topic Fr. Muñoz was invited to speak on was, “Forming Apostolic Men in First Formation.” Fr. Muñoz reminded the formators that the mission of the Oblates must be born from faithfulness to the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod. The Oblate Studies team has been promoting the “being and doing” model in teaching the charism. Fr. Muñoz asked the formators: “Where do you keep the Constitutions and Rules? Are they on a shelf gathering dust that you shake off occasionally to speak to those in your care? Do you pray with the Rule? Can you inspire the men in first formation to do a sort of lectio divina with the Rule?”
He further stated that men in first formation are often formed as missionaries but not necessarily as Oblates of Mary Immaculate. For men to be formed as truly “Apostolic Men” they must not only learn the charism but learn to live it daily. He reminded the formators of the words written by former Superior General, Fr. Fernand Jetté, OMI: “The Oblate’s authenticity, however, or his marginality, cannot arise primarily from the external work. It will come from within, first of all, from the interior disposition of the apostolic man.”
Fr. Muñoz’s presentation was followed by a moment for sharing among the formators as well as for some questions and answers.
The Chair of Oblate Studies continues to provide services for the enrichment of those who live the Oblate charism. For more information on what the Chair can offer, visit https://tiny.cc/oblatestudies.