By Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial
Sometimes numbers tell the story most vividly! In the case of the numbers belonging to the eight branches of the Mazenodian Family in the U.S. Province, it is only the beginning of a more remarkable history of how eight groups have become associated with the charism and mission of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, U.S. Province.
With 214 professed Oblates (Brothers and Priests) in the U.S. Province, those numbers are relatively few in comparison to the larger numbers of Lay Associates (Mazenodian Family members) who share in the Oblate charism and mission.
There are currently 20 Honorary Oblates, those men and women chosen by the Superior General, marked by their dedication, generosity, faithfulness to the Oblate Congregation who are privileged to share in the daily Masses and prayers for the Congregation.
Oblate Associates, over 600 in number, participate in the charism and missionary activity with a special formation program and with ministry outreach in their local areas to the poor and the elderly.
Our Oblate Employees, located in Oblate ministry sites all over the U.S. and Tijuana, serve in a variety of ways to enhance and support Oblates in their ministry.
Oblate Supporters, in the hundreds of thousands, pray for Oblates and assist us with their generosity, making possible the work we do in the U.S. and in the 65 countries where Oblates minister in the world.
Oblate Youth, who minister with Oblates especially in Tijuana and in the Southwestern U.S., have a special love and devotion to Oblate Founder Eugene de Mazenod and are especially adept at bringing the Oblate charism to other youth.
Oblate Partners, about 130 in number, make possible, through their generosity and professional expertise, various special projects needed in ministry. The renovation of our Novitiate for seminarians is one such recent undertaking, made possible only through their efforts.
Oblate Afiliados are young men interested in possibly pursuing Oblate religious life. They meet regularly to learn how they can dedicate themselves more completely to Oblate values and the spirit of the Founder in their daily lives.
In an effort to further acquaint these groups with one another, to share more fully in their stories of being introduced to the Oblate charism, the Lay Associates Congress, originally scheduled for mid-July, 2021, is re- scheduled for May 27-29, 2022. This Congress, held virtually, will offer the opportunity for all Oblates and all members of the Mazenodian Family all over the world to hear about each others’ vocation, how each group was founded, what special ministries they do, and how they assist Oblate Brothers and Priests in their ministries.
The weekend of May 27-29 falls within the annual novena of prayer for Oblate vocations, held each year from May 21, the death date of St. Eugene and May 29, the anniversary of Blessed Joseph Girard’s death, the missionary to Lesotho, Africa.
Oblates David Muñoz and Frank Santucci have been organizing this special Congress, representing the Canada-U.S. region, to be live streamed from the Whitley Center in San Antonio May 27-29, 2022. More details to follow as the time gets closer.