By Will Shaw with Fr. Victor Patricio, OMI
The latest Oblate “Come and See” event for men considering an Oblate Vocation took place October 7-9, at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL. Vocation Director, Fr. Victor Patricio, said nine men from Texas, California, Illinois, and the District of Columbia made the trip to visit with Oblates and men in formation.
The weekend included presentations about missionary life, who the Oblates are, the life of the Founder of the Oblates, St. Eugene de Mazenod, the process of discernment, and what it’s like to be in formation with the Oblates. In addition, there was morning and evening prayer, Adoration, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Celebrations of Mass.
While attending the “Come and See,” the men stayed at the Oblate’s Henri Tempier Pre-novitiate on the Shrine grounds, plus they took the 40-minute journey to visit the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois, giving them the experience of where they would live and study during the early years of formation. The wooded grounds of the novitiate also provided an opportunity for the group to hike along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Back at the Shrine, Saturday evening was spent with Oblates and guests sitting around a bonfire sharing s’mores and stories of discernment and the call to religious life.
Along with the formal presentations, the candidates had opportunities to chat informally with a variety of Oblates including Fathers Juan Gaspar and Raul Salas of the Tempier Pre-novitiate, Fr. Sal Gonzalez, Director of the Shrine, Formator, Bro. George Litiya, Vocation Associate, Fr. Steven Montez, and Fr. Jim Brobst, newly elected General Councilor for the Canada- U.S. Region, and a special guest from Canada, Lacombe Province Vocation Director, Fr. Jarek Pachocki. The visitors also heard from Brothers Henry Zayamoe and Pablo Henning, currently in formation at the Oblate Scholasticate in San Antonio, and local Pre-novice, Jesse Lopez.
Reflecting on the weekend Fr. Victor was pleased with the turnout, which he said was up from last year. He attributed the increase to the prayers for vocations from brother Oblates and members of the Mazenodian Family. All the men who attended the “Come and See” have been in discernment for some time, Fr. Victor thinks two or three are at the stage where they are considering applying to enter formation next year.
Fr. Victor also mentioned that Fr. Pachocki’s presence might lead to a “Regional Come and See” between Canada and the U.S. at some point in the future.
The next “Come and See” weekend is scheduled for January 20-22, 2023, in San Antonio, TX. Reservations for the next event are now open and can be made by calling 1-800-358-4394 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.