By Cebelihle CIBANE, OMI & Conrad KAPEYA, OMI
The Oblate Delegation of Zambia is currently hosting a meeting of the Young Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Y.O.M.I) from the five anglophone countries of the subregion of Africa-Madagascar: Lesotho, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.
“Serving Christ and him crucified”
“Serving Christ and him crucified” is the theme chosen to lead the participants who have gathered at the “Luxe Countryside” in Livingstone, Zambia. Among the invited guests is Fr. Lawrence Sakubita LIKE, OMI, the Procurator General, and the Superior General, Rev. Fr. Luis Ignacio ROIS ALONSO, OMI, who joined the meeting virtually. The enthusiastic participants write about their first-day experience of the gathering.
Our day began with an Eucharistic celebration presided by Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI. In his homily, he began by reminding us that “in as much as we all need eternal life, eternal life is not a calculated observance of the commandments or, in our case as Oblates, a calculated observance of the Constitutions and Rules but rather eternal life is founded on having a loving attitude and self-sacrificing generosity towards our brothers and sisters.”
“What should I do in order to draw closer to God?”
In our ministry as Oblates, we shouldn’t think in terms of actions like the rich young man asking, “What should I do in order to attain eternal life, rather we should be thinking of what should I do in order to draw closer to God.” Bishop Valentine challenged us not only to be observers of the law but lovers of the poor, too, as this is central to our Charism and spirituality as Oblates.
Fr. LIKE presented the topic: “The Constitutions and Rules in Light of the 37th General Chapter—Pilgrims in Ongoing Formation.” In his presentation, Fr. LIKE affirmed the importance of gathering those who are in ongoing formation by giving reference to the General Chapter document, which says: “Formation gatherings of those who are new to full-time ministry are life-giving and life-affirming in helping them “learn from life experience” (ACTS of the 37th General Chapter, 8.2). Assisting one another in living out our Oblate identity is discerned as crucial by the General chapter.
His presentation was divided into three main parts:
-The essence of the Constitutions and Rules,
-The essence of the 37th General Chapter and
-The essence of the relationship between the CC & RR and the 37th General Chapter.
According to Fr. LIKE, the essence of the law is to bring about justice since “all persons are perfectly equal and have the exact same weight on the scale of justice (Hervada). Fr. LIKE recalled that according to commutative justice, all Oblates are equal by virtue of their Perpetual Oblation. Furthermore, according to distributive justice, the Congregation has the duty to provide Mission (Evangelization) and goods to its members, and by legal justice, every member has an obligation to demonstrate their Oblate Identity to the Congregation.
Accountable for the Charism and the Mission of the Congregation
Our day ended with the address from the Superior General via Zoom on “The State of Affairs in the Oblate World and the Call to Interculturality.” The Superior General emphasized responsibility. In other words, to be accountable for the Charism and Mission of the Congregation. He stressed that his main role is at the General level, but each one of us is a Superior General at the local level, and we are all responsible for the Congregation.
The Superior General also spoke about the Acts of the 37th General Chapter, a theme familiar to us all, Pilgrims of Hope in Communion. He pointed out the ways of living the Chapter calls. The Superior General mentioned that “interculturality is not about placing people of different backgrounds together, but it is about recreating our relationships and to be born anew, and this comes from our different cultures.” It is not easy, it is a challenge, but it is doable!
Openness to the Holy Spirit
Concluding his address, the Superior General stressed the importance of understanding the work of the Holy Spirit in living the Charism and the significance of learning from the people we serve; despite having so much knowledge and insight on the Constitutions and Rules, we can learn so much from the people, but we must be open to the Holy Spirit. We then had an interaction with him on different subjects.