Richard Cote, George Kirwin, Ray Lebrun, Jim Lucas, Bill O’Donnell, Fernando Velazquez and myself were part of the first Monthly Online Discussion zoom presentation arranged by Shanil Jayawardena, of the General Service of Oblate Communications, Dec. 5, 2022. With the title “Let Us Walk Hand in Hand with Mary,” the hour long presentation centered on the personal experience of Mary which each of the three presenters has experienced: Monsignor Mario Leon, O.M.I., the Prefect Apostolic of Western Sahara, Mary Tyrrell, Oblate Associate from England, and myself.
Fr. General’s previously published letter for the celebration of Dec. 8, “With Mary, Missionary Pilgrims of Hope in Communion,” was the inspiration for each of the three of us. I concentrated on Our Lady of Pontmain, having attended the junior seminary of Our Lady of Hope, Newburgh, NY, from 1955-57, shortly after the former Eastern US Province had adopted Our Lady of Pontmain (also known as Our Lady of Hope) as our primary Marian devotion. Jim Lucas promoted this devotion for many years, until his death on Jan. 16, 2022. Bill O’Donnell then took over the promotion, and when I mentioned his name, Shanil smiled broadly, since Bill had been his spiritual director.
During my novitiate in Tewksbury, MA, 1957-58, we were told about the apparitions of Our Lady at Beauraing, Belgium. Ricard Cote is currently promoting this Marian devotion.
I wanted very much to give a shout out to George Kirwin, who taught a course in Mariology at Oblate College, Washington, DC, from 1961, every other year until he went to lead the pre-novitiate in Buffalo, NY in 1996 (except for the six years he was provincial, 1980-86). So he influenced up to 100 Oblate seminarians, and over several hundred seminarians from other religious communities in their devotion to Mary.
Ray Lebrun is on the staff of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC, as spiritual director. Click here for the website of one of the most beautiful Marian Shrines in the world, right across the street from our national Oblate headquarters. Besides assisting with confessions and Mass, he has the very Oblate ministry of distributing aid to those who come to the Shrine in need of assistance.
Fernando Velazquez furnished the English to Spanish translation (there was also an English to French translation). Shanil ended the online discussion by promising that some of the monthly programs would be in French or Spanish, with translation into English.
Chicho, (as our superior general prefers to be called), whose Dec. 8 letter gave rise to this online conversation, thanked all involved in it. Over 100 members of the Oblate Family watched this first monthly zoom.
Some of the USA Oblate Family had difficulty with the time origin in Rome at 3:30 pm Rome time, being 9:30 am Eastern time (with up to three hours earlier as we cross the USA). Since the Oblate Cross covers the world, we will have to get used to this monthly program originating at 3:30 pm Rome time and being six to nine hours earlier in the USA.
I look forward very much to seeing what topic, three presenters and date is chosen for the January zoom.