The Superior General, Fr. Chicho, converses with Oblate Youth in Pozuelo. Here is the script of that conversation with the questions asked by the young people and Fr Chicho’s answers.
Thank you: Dear young people and Oblates. First, I am grateful for this opportunity to address you before we set sail for Lisbon.
My Hope: The young people of our Mazenodian family play a crucial role in this moment of our history. I will repeat it many times in Lisbon when young people worldwide join us, but I want it to be clear from the beginning. I wish the young people would be at our pilgrimage’s head. I want them to help us fulfil the dreams of the last General Chapter, which invites us to be “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion.”
Pozuelo: Today, we find ourselves in Pozuelo, in the house of the young martyrs who, with their lives, bore witness to Jesus. The organizers of this meeting asked me to motivate you all to face the challenges of the mission with the youth. I invite you to walk with the martyrs, befriend them, and make them your guides and companions on the journey. Ask them to intercede with their prayers before God so that we may receive divine help and, in this way, strengthen our friendship with Jesus and respond to his invitation to be sent on a mission. I want to talk to each of you and get closer to your hearts, but above all, I wish this moment to be an authentic encounter with Jesus and the Martyrs.
Some of you have asked me some questions that helped me prepare for today. I want to ask those of you who gave me questions to come forward so I may publicly respond to your questions. Thank you!
Live with the passion for the love of Jesus to be like Jesus (Love transforms us and brings us closer to Jesus)
What do you like the most about being an Oblate, and since you have become superior General of a worldwide congregation, what task have you had to undertake that you never thought you would?
What I like the most about being an Oblate is that God has called me to undertake the same mission he gave to his son, Jesus. To preach in a community the Gospel to the poor. Firstly, I am grateful that Jesus has invited me to be his companion and deeply love him daily. CCRR no. 2 invites us to recognise him daily and allow him to dwell within us. I love that Jesus teaches me daily how to live the Gospel, which has stayed with me since we began that first community in Aluche, Saint Leandro. “Live the Gospel!”
My friend Jesus has sent me to the poor, and I am happy when I am among the poor. For example, recently, I was in Bangladesh, where they washed my feet like never before… The poor have taught me how to love Jesus better. I rejoice that Jesus has called me to live in community with his commandment of love: Charity and Obedience—the founder’s witness.
I became Superior General, already knowing what is expected of a Superior General because I had the opportunity to work closely with a couple of Superior Generals for 12 years. However, I want to express all my gratitude to God for this great opportunity he has given me to live and, more specifically, to live this life joyfully. When I was elected, I told myself: Chicho, God is giving you a new mission. He trusts you and is giving you an opportunity for conversion. The only way to respond to this is to persevere in everything to be a saint. So therefore, I try to learn as much as I can from the Oblate saints so that I may see how they accomplished it.
We find ourselves in the house of the martyrs who are now saints. Did they do something special to deserve martyrdom? No, they continued to do what they did every day: Pray, show charity, celebrate the Eucharist, confession, etc. They lived joyfully while God slowly prepared them to become like him in offering up their lives: they, too, forgave their persecutors. I invite you all to be saints and to follow the Gospel, just like the martyrs. Let your daily lives breathe the love of Jesus, and let yourselves be transformed by him.
Live the group, the community (we can do this together)
I will tackle the following: As you know, the number of Oblates is reducing in some of our communities in the Mediterranean Province. What can the young people do to animate and revitalise our communities?
That is an excellent question. I would prefer that you give me the answer. This is something you can reflect on in the coming days so that you can implement something when you get back home. What can young people do to animate our communities? What can they offer to the Oblate Family?
First, we need to come out of ourselves and stop thinking about what others can do for us and instead think about what we can do for others. Whenever I visit an Oblate community, I remember that old saying: “There is no poor person who has nothing to offer and no rich person who does not need something.” In the words of Saint Francis, “Grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled than to console, to be loved more than to love.”
I am reminded of something beautiful found in our CCRR: To persevere in our charism, we always need to consider how to make the life and apostolate of our brother in the community happier. That is to say; we have to make sure that the Other is a happy Oblate in his life and mission or that a young Oblate finds joy in his life and mission. I am convinced we can do this together.
I was reminded again of the Oblate Martyrs. During their moments of trial, they stuck with each other. When one wanted to abandon everything and escape, another would help him see the big picture if they carried out with it. Let us be encouraged by their example in offering themselves and mutually supporting each other during moments of trial and tribulation.
Why don’t you all take a moment to reflect on the following: “How does God want me to help my brother become happier, more saintly, and a better missionary?” Should I pray more for him? Should I be a better example? Should I speak to him? Should I take more concrete action in his confrontation? Now in the coming days, try to put these things into practice. Try to do the same in your communities, groups, movements, etc.
Love for the mission! Love for the Mazenodian Family!
How can we discern our mission with the Lay Oblates in our local communities? Spain has always sent missionaries. Missionaries were formed here and sent to every corner of the world. However, this is no longer the case in Spain or the rest of Europe, which is becoming increasingly secular daily. They are now mission territory. As young Oblates, how can we respond to the challenges of evangelizing our neighbourhoods so that in 30 years, we don’t say to ourselves, “If only”?
As Father General, what are your main preoccupations and objectives? As the one responsible for a worldwide Congregation, what is your direction for the Missionary Oblates and the young oblates in the next 20 to 30 years?
Thanks again for these questions reflecting your love for the Mazenodian Family. On the one hand, I don’t have any other direction than the one set forth by the last General Chapter, which asks us to be “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion.” On the other hand, my desire for the Young Oblates is that they reflect that first community of Aix when Young People and Oblates walked together. That is to say; I invite you all to walk with us so that together we can be pilgrims of hope in communion.
If I had to describe it all with one word, I would say “Saints”. I want that we all be saints. Saints that live in the community as missionaries close to the people. I do not know what will happen in the next 20 to 30 years, but as Pope Francis reminds us, “It is not up to us to see the end of our journey; we simply have to begin the process.” I have some dreams, but I am convinced you young people will accomplish more than I could ever imagine.
It helps me to think again of the Martyrs of Pozuelo. They all wanted to go on a foreign mission. That was their dream. Physically they never went to foreign missions, but they did fulfil their dream in a way they probably never conceived. If their lives hadn’t been cut short, they would have gone to foreign missions like many of their companions whom I knew. And let me tell you all that their companions who survived their witness became the driving force in the mission because they were fulfilling the dreams of their companions. As martyrs, they became faithful missionaries because the true missionary was a saint, and now they are going to every nation and period. How many have invoked them from places they never imagined, remembering their examples and asking for their intercession? We must do the same. We must dream high but let ourselves be surprised by God, who will fulfil our dreams his way.
At what moment did it dawn on you that God had this new vocation for you, and how did you receive it?
It helps to put the election of a Superior General in the same perspective as Mary’s yes[…] It is like being another Mary to fulfil God’s plan and like Mary following Jesus to the cross to be later a mother to the entire Church and every man and woman.
It is essential to live the days of WYD in Lisbon with this same audacity because even the Pope has proposed Mary as our model to be young people in the Church. After all, that was the motif in the background of Mary’s visiting her cousin Elizabeth, which I encourage you to meditate on often. Mary walks next to us. Better yet, she takes us by the hand and walks with us just like she did with the Martyrs. How many times did they hold a rosary and pray it? Mary comforted and protected them all the way. Just like Mary accompanied the Martyrs, she accompanies us and invites us to live with the sureness of our vocation and mission in the Church.
Thank you, and may God bless you all with St. Eugene’s cross!