Christ the King Retreat Center in Buffalo, Minnesota, is a ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was founded in 1952 for the purpose of providing preached retreats for men and women in an atmosphere of silence and solitude. Our silent retreats continue to be our core ministry along with spiritual direction, directed retreats, and days of prayer.
The retreat center is situated on a hillside overlooking Buffalo Lake. This beautiful site is naturally conducive to prayer and contemplation. We invite all to “come to the water” to be refreshed by our gracious and compassionate God. www.kingshouse.com
Give your servant lebh shomea (a listening heart) so as to be able to discern (1 Kings 3:9).
Jesus would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray (Luke 5:16).
These two texts embody the spirit of Lebh Shomea House of Prayer at La Parra Ranch located in Wild Horse Desert, six miles due east of the small South Texas town of Sarita. The purpose of the House of Prayer is to assure a milieu and to furnish a place where a person can go off to at any time in order to be alone and pray. Lebh Shomea stresses the silent listening of the heart – contemplative prayer. www.lebhshomea.org
A conference, workshop and retreat center in the perfect environment for personal spiritual growth.
An atmosphere of quiet, peace and hospitality radiates from this oasis of sacred ground. It is a source of strength for the mind, the body and the spirit. A place where your soul can soar while your body finds peace and refreshment. For over 45 years, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate have been offering retreats for clergy, religious and lay people, with stays ranging from several days to weeks, on the site of the new Oblate Renewal Center. It is conveniently located in north central San Antonio, near the International Airport and Interstate Highways, but exudes a sense of seclusion, natural beauty and peace.
Why do We… Visit Shrines?
Every year millions of Catholics, as well as believers from other denominations and faiths, go on pilgrimage to a shrine. While they visit shrines for many different reasons, all pilgrims share something in common – a desire to come into closer union with God.
Many Catholic shrines have evolved either because of some significant religious event or because they house a highly revered relic or image. The Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe near Mexico City, for example, recalls the apparitions of the Blessed Mother to St. Juan Diego in 1531. The Sacred Grotto in Lourdes, France was built on the site where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. The shrine at Fatima in Portugal commemorates Mary’s message of peace to the children Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco in 1917.
Shrines usually have a primary focus. Lourdes has become renowned as a place where pilgrims come to pray for healing for themselves or for a loved one. At Fatima pilgrims pray for peace – peace in the world and peace within their own hearts. The Oblates at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows invite pilgrims to pray for healing and hope – healing from the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that afflicts us all, and hope for a peaceful and more fulfilling life.
But shrines don’t have to be places of apparition, miracles or devotion to a particular saint. They can simply provide the physical and spiritual space for believers to come into the presence of God.
And once they do find God, shrine pilgrims are sent back on mission to the world.Believers understand that union with God; does not remove them from the world – rather it propels them into the very middle of it, where God’s people experience hunger, thirst, homelessness and injustice. Pope John Paul II addressed this point when he wrote that shrines are places in which “believers not only revive their faith but also become clearly aware of the duties that derive from it in the social field.”
Shrines and the Missionary Oblates
A visit to a shrine is a physical journey to a place of reverence. But more importantly, it is a stopping off point at that place within the soul where the believer can encounter God face to face. The Missionary Oblates minister at more than 50 Marian shrines on five continents, where they make the Virgin Mary known and loved.
A place of healing and hope; the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is perched on a picturesque bluff of 200 manicured acres in Belleville, Illinois. We invite all people to experience the richness of the Catholic faith through the dynamic preaching of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Masses, Reconciliation and special Devotional Services are available in both English and Spanish.
While the Shrine honors the Catholic tradition, the Oblates invite people of all faiths and abilities to enhance their relationship with God through our engaging spiritual programs, conferences and workshops. For those seeking to connect with God through nature, there are miles of walking paths and devotional sites on the property with a full-service restaurant and hotel to feed the body and rest the soul. www.snows.org
St. Joseph the Worker Shrine is located in downtown Lowell, in the historic district. It’s a friendly and welcoming place for those of all faiths or no faith. Visitors come here to receive the sacrament of reconciliation as well as to participate in the celebration of Mass. But many come throughout the day to be alone with the Lord in quiet prayer and reflection. www.stjosephshrine.org/about-the-shrine
The spiritual center of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate and Oblate Missions is Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto of the Southwest, dedicated on December 7, 1941. To honor their patroness, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Southern U.S. Province erected the Grotto, the most perfect replica in America of the original Shrine in Lourdes, France.
Towering from level ground, it is carved from stone and shaped to resemble the cave in which the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette. Within the grotto a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes looks down upon Bernadette who is kneeling in prayer.
Located on five acres, the beautiful Grotto honors two revelations of Our Blessed Mother: as Our Lady of Lourdes in the Old World and as Our Lady of Guadalupe in the New World. Both the Grotto and the Hill of Tepeyac sites welcome pilgrims from around the world and serve as eternal signs of hope for all who visit.
Daily Mass is offered by the Oblate Fathers in the Eucharistic Chapel located within the Grotto. 5712 Blanco Road
San Antonio, Texas 78216 www.oblatemissions.org
Oblate School of Theology Administration Building
In New Orleans, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel / International Shrine of St. Jude, pastor Fr. Tony Rigoli, OMI helps those who come to the parish door requesting emergency assistance with food and funds for transport. www.judeshrine.com
In 1964, Fr. John Maronic, O.M.I., (a possible future Oblate saint? – http://www.vmusa.org/maronic.htm) founded a spiritual support group for people with disabilities or who were chronically ill, then known as “Victim Missionaries.” Its purpose was to encourage those with disabilities to reach out to others with disabilities, sharing their gifts and spreading the Good News of the Gospel. The name “Victim Missionaries” was changed in 1984 to “Victorious Missionaries,” signifying the positive, active qualities members have to offer. Today, the Victorious Missionaries consist of a diverse group – laity and religious, women and men, the young and not so young. The VMs have eight chapters throughout the United States and one in Ireland. They meet regularly for spiritual growth, renewal, and fellowship. Members also take part in retreats and are called to a personal prayer ministry.
We, the Missionary Oblates of the U.S. Province, along with the entire congregation, join in a special time of reflection and renewal in order to remain faithful to St. Eugene de Mazenod’s vision and his call to leave nothing undared. We are called to move confidently into the future and to bring to life in all of us an immense hope.
We recognize the challenges that face us as an apostolic community living in the North American context of power and privilege. Self-interest often overrides a compassionate love for the poor. Families must struggle in the face of enormous pressures. The dignity of the human person and God’s love for all creation are undermined. The wellbeing of the earth is jeopardized in favor of short-term profits. Widespread scandals erode people’s confidence in the Church and its leaders. Death, departures and declining vocations continue to deplete our ranks, affecting the quality of our pastoral presence in an increasingly complex society.
But, we are men of hope.
Our hope is inspired by the Holy Spirit and the call of the Church. We choose a direction for our province that proclaims once again Jesus Christ and his Kingdom to the most abandoned. With a hope that draws its strength from God, we recommit ourselves to living God’s holiness and justice. Under the patronage of Mary Immaculate, we reclaim our heritage as a vibrant, joyful and confident missionary force for the 21st century.
These are the goals we believe will help us respond to our God-given call.
1. We will become men who are more aware and more responsible for the international dimensions of our mission in Christ. We will foster respectful dialogue between the rich and the poor, as well as between various cultures and traditions. We will review our policies, procedures and practices to build greater solidarity with the poor abroad and with the Oblates who serve them.
2. We will respect the laity’s baptismal call to become a vibrant missionary force in the world. We will promote, according to the Oblate tradition, the development of lay leadership among all the ethnic groups we serve. Because Hispanics will play a central role in the future of the Church in the United States, we will support research and programs needed to build up the next generation of Hispanic leaders.
3. In the light of significant downsizing, we will reorganize our parishes so that they correspond more fully to our missionary capabilities and province priorities. We will strive for excellence in parish ministry and build up Christian communities that unite us more closely with poor immigrants and with the marginalized of all races, languages and cultures. We will form a Parish Ministerial Council to assist Province leadership in identifying the type and manner of parishes that we can effectively staff.
4. We will enliven the prophetic witness of our apostolic community and, through dialogue, further our accountability for the common life we share. We will enhance our communities’ commitment to common prayer, shared reflection, planning, evaluation and fellowship.
5. We will revitalize our preaching as the foundational Oblate ministry. We will promote and respect appropriate forms of lay evangelization and preaching in all our ministries.
6. All Oblate institutions will review and assess how they promote our Oblate charism. Each institution will develop a plan of action on ways that it intends to reach out to the poor and those most abandoned.
7. We will meet in ministry specific groups to pursue pastoral excellence, monitor developments in ministry, make recommendations for improvement and assess ongoing OMI commitments.
8. We will review, assess and implement our vocation promotion plan at the local level. Each local community will invite young men to consider Oblate life. With the help of vocation directors and lay collaborators, each community will find ways to help these young men in their vocational discernment.
9. We will dedicate resources to develop more effective ministries to teens and youth in all our local missions. We will network our teen and youth ministries in order to enrich them with our Oblate values and priorities.
We believe that we have been called as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to proclaim Christ and His kingdom in this time and in this place. Grateful for the calling, we recommit ourselves to the vision of St. Eugene and, asking the intercession of Mary Immaculate, the first disciple and our model of hope, we renew our commitment to Jesus Christ, the Church, and one another.
The Oblates of the United States Province
October 24, 2003
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate