“Always close to people with whom they work, Oblates will remain unceasingly attentive to their aspirations and values….” Close, is the word that often people use to speak about us. We are not complicated. That is found in our way of welcoming our guests. Fr. de Mazenod had a big heart, a great capacity for affection; some of this has probably remained in us. Fr. Gerard, wrote during one of his retreats: “. the secret with the Basuthos is to love them, to always love them, to love them anyway.” He knew the Founder in his youth! This closeness to people makes us learn their languages and become one of them, it makes us take up the cause of the workers in Latin America or France, to accompany the immigrants, to build schools, hospitals or radio stations, it saves us from the danger of becoming officials, it is often why people love us and regret to see us leave.
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“We are not made for ordinary pastoral work! It is true that in the course of history we took parishes which we wanted to make missionary, but the original project was “… to bring the Good News to the people who have not yet received it… and where the Church is already established, our commitment is to the groups it touches least.” (Const. 5) The Church constantly needs renewal, revival, deepening. This was, and is still the task of the parochial missions which were true events, with home visits, times for meeting and prayer, in small groups, big celebrations at the church, processions in the street! The format has evolved and it seems that this style is definitely out. How, then, to help the modern world – post-modern and post-secular, -discover the richness of the Christian faith? These are big questions. Our presence in a considerable number of Marian Shrines can be the beginning of an answer. In fact, we are in Lourdes – since 1985 – and also at Our Lady of Snows, in Belleville, Illinois, in the USA, in Koden, Poland, in Madhu, Sri Lanka, and in many other smaller shrines. Recently, we established a community in Loreto, Italy. Crowds flock to these places. They seek an experience, a conversion, and a light for their life. It is then we must “serve” them the good food of the Word, in the language of today, “so that they may have joy and that their joy be full,” as Saint John said.
The Epistle to the Hebrews says that Moses walked as if he saw the Invisible One (He.11, 27). This is somewhat our situation. The world changes, our contemporaries struggle to find work, to manage their life, to raise their children, to enjoy leisure when the opportunity arises. Points of reference are confused, values are like stocks, they go up and down and they are exchanged! Each person tries to lead its life, as if alone in the world!
This mainly Western cultural context, has deeply affected our existence and our work. The choice of our life appears difficult for the present generations. Generosity, selflessness, community… God… are not popular values! Life commitment is often frightening! There arises the question of vocations. Will we be the last links in a great history, or will the heritage be carried on again vigorously and joyously by new generations?
It is true, that while the Congregation decreases in the northern hemisphere, it grows in the southern hemisphere. It is time to make way for others, to accept changes, to adapt structures and cultures.
The globalization of poverty and the concentration of wealth have made precarious the life of so many of our contemporaries, especially to the south, but also in the north. Misery is a theological question. God, in man His image, is condemned to live in sub-human conditions! How can it be tolerated? How can we not help? How can we not commit ourselves to changing the “structures of sin” which are the cause? Another vast field is inter-religious dialogue. The encounter with Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam raise new questions in the West. If the politicians are discovering the problem only now, long ago, our brothers in the field were working to create bridges to avoid as much as possible mistrust and confrontation. In this connection, we must mention Father Marcello Zago, our former Superior General, deceased as Archbishop and Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, who was the kingpin of the historical meeting between the religious leaders of the world, in Assisi, in 1986? It was a great beginning, but what remains to be done is enormous and calls for our commitment.
– Christ invites us to follow him and to share in his mission through word and work
– We co-operate with the Saviour and imitate his example, committing ourselves principally to evangelising the poor
-We are ready to leave everything to be disciples of Jesus
– Our desire to co-operate with him draws us to know him more deeply, to identify with him and to let him live in us
– We give ourselves to the Father in obedience even unto death and dedicate ourselves to God’s people in unselfish love
– We strive to be the Lord’s companions and his messengers
– The cross of the Lord is central to our mission- through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we see the world
– Our principal mission is to proclaim Christ to the most abandoned
– Our mission is to those whose condition cries out for hope. These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference
– We work in unity and brotherhood with others who work for the Gospel
– Proclaiming the Word
– We spare no effort to proclaim the Word of God, and feel a responsibility to evangelize
– We are close to the people whom we serve and take into account their values and aspirations
– As prophets of the new world
– We bear witness to God’s holiness and justice and announce the liberating presence of Jesus Christ born in his resurrection
– We shall always look to Mary Immaculate, the patroness of our Congregation, as our mother
– We always strive to instill genuine devotion to Mary Immaculate
(summary taken from OMI Constitutions and Rules, Rome 2000)
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Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate