Diego Sáez Martín OMI
I do not know the day or the month of the year 2020 in which you are going to read these lines… Is it today, October 1st? October 19th? Or November 6th? It does not really matter. Okay, now, do the test of remembering where and what you were doing 25 years ago, in 1995. If you do not remember anything significant about that day, extend your memory search to events lived in that week or month 25 years ago… Has it worked? Those who have better memories, and those who have enough years, will remember that, at this point in 1995, we were all excited making preparations for a special event: the canonization of the Founder on December 3, 1995.
How many popular festivals, contests, collections, sales of objects, etc., were being held at this time of year in our Units, to raise funds and be able to send more people to Rome! Do you remember? And how many novenas, lectures, preachings, triduums, exhibitions! How many videos, slides, audio-visual animation materials were created to “create an atmosphere” of party and celebration! How many commemorative objects (medals, stamps, statuettes, etc.)! Even today we continue talking about those first Oblate crosses, and medals of the Oblate Madonna and Saint Eugene, etc., that were created for this occasion. Do you remember?
Younger ones may not remember any of this. Thank God! Yes, thank God we already have a whole generation of young Oblates (in sociology it is often accepted that it takes around 20-30 years to speak of a generation) who have been formed with our Founder already canonized… Hundreds of young Oblates! The elderly, on the other hand, can bear witness to what that December 3, 1995, 25 years ago, has meant in the life of our family. How many graces have the Church and the Congregation received since then! New Units have been created, we have opened dozens of new missions, knowledge and love for the Oblate charism has grown, institutes of consecrated life and associations of lay people who live the same Oblate charism have emerged… It is impressive! There are so many stories of what has been lived in these 25 years that we could share and tell each other!
Let us celebrate it! In families, 25 years of married life is an occasion to look back at photos and videos of the wedding day, to show them to the children, to give thanks to God for everything received, and to encourage each other. Similarly, we also can celebrate our memories – those that are in our minds and hearts, no doubt, but also those videos, photos, objects, memories, devotionals, etc., that we keep! Could we publish them anew? Could we put them in common with the whole Congregation? Could we go one-step further? Could we digitize them and send them to the OMI Postulation or the Oblate Communications Service? Or even better, could we also create new materials? The time of pandemic that we are experiencing has shown us the need and effectiveness of these resources to create communion and a sense of unity.
Perhaps now is a good time to think about how we could celebrate such a significant date in our Units and our communities. The General Service of the Postulation is already working, commissioned by the Superior General, on a ceremony: a prayer vigil that may take place on the days before the actual celebration. It can be used both at the community level, at the Unit level, or with people who live our Oblate charism or who share our life and mission. We will send it to you soon. You can program it in the schedule of the community, the ecclesial community that you accompany, or the Unit, or the area, etc., a day to meet, physically if the health authorities allow it, or digitally, and make a memorial and give thanks to God for His gifts…
May the Lord and our Oblate Mother inspire us to find appropriate ways to celebrate together the many favours we have received, and may Saint Eugene accompany us and intercede for us every day!