By Will Shaw
The second of two Province Meetings took place in person and online from King’s House Retreat Center in Belleville, IL on March 13-14. As with the first meeting recently held in San Antonio, the purpose was to discuss the upcoming change in leadership and straw votes, as well as to provide an update on the current state of the province and its ministries, and to consider future directions.
More than twenty Oblates from the local area and elsewhere attended the gathering, and all others were invited to participate via Zoom. Members were given the option to attend both meetings by Zoom so that all could see and hear the discussions and issues highlighted in both meetings.
As in San Antonio, Fr. Jim Brobst, Councilor for Canada-U.S., facilitated the meeting providing an objective view of the state of the Province during the conversations.
The next Oblate leadership team will be chosen from a total of three straw ballots: two concentrating on who the next provincial should be, and the third for Provincial Consultors. The final ballot will be sent directly to Rome. The new Provincial will be taken up in the General Administration’s Plenary Session which begins September 13, and will be confirmed around September 25. The Provincial Consultors will be confirmed in Rome around October 6, with the entire Leadership Team confirmed by mid-October. It is expected the new team will be in place after being installed in late October or early November.
In his presentation, Fr. Louis Studer, U.S. Provincial provided some updated statistics for consideration during the discussions on future directions:
- There are currently 190 Oblates in the Province.
- The median age of U.S. Oblates is 76.
- There are 7 Pre-novices, no novices, and 5 students in Theology Studies.
- There are approximately 70 Oblates in active ministry; 50 are full-time and 20 part-time.
- 28 Oblates are required for Internal Ministry, Provincial, Vicar-provincial, Treasurer, Vocations, Formation, Superiors of Communities, etc.
- 40-50 Oblates are currently assignable to full-time ministries.
- The Province currently serves in 25 largely, poor, multi-cultural parishes, 4 shrines, and 4 retreat centers.