By Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial
(Editor’s Note: U.S. Provincial, Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, provides an update on province activities and news in four separate articles in this newsletter. Direct links to the other articles are provided below as well as in the email update)
In the Spring and Fall of each year, Province Leadership meets with Oblates in the four main geographical concentrations of Oblate ministry in the U.S.: the Boston area, St. Louis area, Los Angeles area and San Antonio. Oblates gather in one of these four locations to spend time together, pray and celebrate Eucharist, relax, socialize and get important updates on “the latest.” They have the opportunity to question, comment, debate and even renew acquaintances!
Like most scheduled happenings and events all over the world, Covid 19 has changed our way of getting together. In order to comply with health regulations, our Spring 2020, Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Oblate gatherings have all been live streamed. Although a few Oblates have traveled to one or the other of the sites, the majority have participated by ZOOM. Obviously, this greatly changed the dynamic of our gatherings, such that most Oblates have strongly expressed the hope that, at least by Fall 2021, we would be able to physically gather once again!
Presentations for these gatherings by some on the Leadership Team were live streamed before the meeting in order to allow more time for questions, comments, clarifications in the meeting time itself. The meeting also encouraged Oblates to give updates about how their ministry has been impacted by the pandemic and how they have found creative ways to do ministry and give updates on recent news in their ministry outreach.
Provincial Louis Studer spoke about two new parish ministries the Oblates in Zambia will be accepting in July. He also addressed the topic of possible restructuring of provinces in the Canada-U.S. Region, and discussed the two meetings of younger Oblates in the region whose purpose was for them to get to know one another and work towards choosing a common regional ministry together. He also introduced news about the new Oblate community that will minister at the Kenedy Ranch in Southeastern Texas, and also staff another parish and two mission parishes in the area.
Vicar Provincial Jim Brobst spoke about Oblate mission enrichment for our employees, further acquainting them with Oblate values and our charism. He also updated us on a new parish Oblates will be ministering at in the Archdiocese of Boston in an area that has become very secular and badly in need of more priests and missionaries.
Treasurer Jim Chambers presented the overall province financial picture and how our revenues and expenses have been affected by Covid. He thanked Oblates for their generous contributions to the province from the ministry they do. He further updated us on some building projects in the province, some to be used for our ministry, others to help guarantee a more secure financial future for the province.
We all remain hopeful that our Fall 2021 gatherings will allow us to once again meet in person after a hiatus of almost two years!
More Reports from Fr. Louis Studer: