By Fr. Peter Stoll, OMI
Thanks to the good Lord, St. Eugene de Mazenod and the Regions and units that participated in the preparation, the 2nd Oblate Lay Association Congress went ahead as planned from 27 to 29 May, 2022. It had been postponed because of Covid last year and now this meant there was more time to prepare and also the enthusiasm and expectations were really heightened. Thanks to our facilitators, technicians and translators. the main conference room here in Rome was set up like a studio and we had good participation from the members of the community and also the IRS (International Roman Scholasticate).
DAY 1. CELEBRATE
After prayer and theme song from the Philippine Province and a simple Opening Ceremony, Fr. Fabio Ciardi OMI began with giving a historical perspective of the Lay Associations in the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Then followed a time of CELEBRATING the Lay Associations with each region presenting something of their life and experiences. Of course it was impossible to put everything into a presentation so the regions could pick some events that they wanted to present. There was also time to hear responses from the regions/units that were gathered live at the same time.
Here is a list of those gathered either by zoom or livestreaming.
Regional / Sub regional Gatherings
- Europe: Kokotek (Poland)
- Canada-USA: San Antonio (USA)
- Latin America: Many units were on a Zoom together
- Africa-Madagascar French sub region: Dakar (Senegal)
- Africa-Madagascar English sub region: Johannesburg (South Africa)
- Asia Oceania Manila (Philippines)
Many other groups we wish to welcome who are also joining us on line:
- Colombo (Sri Lanka)
- Jaffna (Sri Lanka)
- Yaoundé (Cameron)
- Sassone (Italy)
- Crewe & London (UK)
- Hong Kong (China)
- South Africa
Many others of course, were connected and sent greetings and well wishes on the Chat in the YouTube livestreaming. On data available from YouTube: Day 1 – 1,600 views, Day 2 – 889 views, Day 3, – 638 views.
DAY 2. CONNECT
With the theme of CONNECTING it was a heavy day with 15 presentation by various speakers. After prayer presented by the Latin America Region, there were The experience of laity involved in Historical Gatherings around the charism.
- Aix Congress 96 Congress presented by Emanuele Rossini
- General Commission of Oblates and Lay people presented by David López OMI
- General Chapters presented by Sandra Prather
- Then a major presentation : The Laity have a call to live the Charism as Oblate people by Scott Woodward
- Followed by another major Presentation: Examples of significant Lay oblates in history by Sebastian Cortes Cruz
After these presentation a break was needed before we continued with the next set of talks. The time was going fast and the interest was still there to hear more and learn more.
The Next Section was talks of Experiences of collaboration …Past and Future Hopes between groups of Oblates and Lay Associations
- A Young Oblate by Sc. Carlos Renedo OMI and a Provincial by Fr. Felix Rehbock OMI shared their experience and hopes.
- Then some experiences of youth by Lucía Martínez Dojorti from Latin America and Teresa & Glwadys from Cameroun West Africa.
- For the experiences of families we listen to Mark & Darcie Lich from Canada –USA and Emma & Kyle Hoad from Australia
- For the experiences of Honorary Oblates (HOMI) we heard from Josef Veselský from Europe and Zenaida & Pedro from Latin America
- For the experiences of MAMI we listened to Mildred March and Josephine Lungu both from Africa Madagascar and Stefano Dominici from Europe.
So Day 2 gave many insights of what is happening and how people are living and working together as Oblate People.
DAY 3. COMMISSION
This day was like a climax in a sense that as we try to be listening to the various realities of the Associations across the globe we heard the responses from the questionnaire or workshop on the future.
As usual the day started with a moment of prayer presented by the Africa Madagascar region follows by a keynote presentation by Fr. Frank Santucci entitled : “Committed in Oblation as laity in responding to the urgent needs of the Church”.
After that we listened to reports from the regions of Asia Oceania presented by Jacinta Torres Pueyo, then from the European Region presented by Patrick, Goshia (Malgorzata) and Gerard Bennett. From Africa Madagascar the francophone sub-region we listened to Madeleine Ndour and from the Anglophone sub region we heard from Philile Ndaba. We then heard some responses about what did they hear, and impressed them. First impressions were from Canada USA and we listened to Joanne Friedt from Lacombe followed by Maritza Nova Delgado from Venezuela responding from Latin America.
We were going according to the scheduled time so well that after the break we took time out to greet and say Hello and wave to the different groups that were there live. But, unfortunately we couldn’t say hello to all the groups gathering.
Back again to listen to the reports for “looking to the hopes and dreams for the future” and we had Francis Maza from Canada USA with the 3 voices by video Francis Masa himself followed by Michelle from the USA then Jesse Lopez from USA. From Peru we heard the report from Mili Roxana from Chincha, Peru for Latin America.
After that we heard impressions from Edwige Manga from Dakar, Senegal then English speaking sub region we heard from Valentine Wakumelo from Zambia from Asia Oceania and Pat Forters from Manila, Philippines gave her impressions. Andrea from the European region closed the impression session.
Then Fr. Peter STOLL gave an extensive list of those who truly needed to be thanked for their presence and support for making this congress possible.
Fr. Louis LOUGEN, Superior General (after eating a piece of dark chocolate!) gave his final and positive response to all that had been done for the congress. He saw it as a movement gathering as the Oblates head to their up and coming chapter in September this year.
A final liturgy from the Aix community lead by Fr. Henricus ASODO from the rooms of the former Carmelite convent which became the founding house of the first community of Oblates.
And finally the blessing for all given with the Founder’s cross by the Superior General brought the whole 3 days to a wonderful ending.
Thanks again to all who made possible this 3 day international Oblate Lay Associations Congress.
See you next time!