GENERAL ADMINISTRATIONFinal Message
Dear Brother Oblates,
Having arrived at the end of this Interchapter 2013 in Bangkok, we want to share with you in all simplicity a bit of our experience of these two weeks spent together and tell you about some of the fruits of our deliberations. Formally, an Interchapter meeting is of course the focal midpoint between two General Chapters (cf. R 128), but it is still much more than that. As we truly experienced here, an encounter among Oblates is an always powerful and joyful time of fraternal life, of prayer and of reflection; a time also for experiencing the richness of the Congregation, its life and its worldwide missionary commitment. And even if the flow of information and interventions sometimes overwhelmed us and prevented a more in-depth dialogue among us, we leave the meeting happy and encouraged in our service of leadership and authority among you.
What dynamic did we follow? Listening so as to better discern. Attentive listening, a necessary step for any discernment, occupied much of our time: listening to the Lord and His Word; listening to the reports of the Regions; to the various interventions; to our confreres; listening to what is happening in the Congregation in response to the calls for conversion of the last General Chapter. This listening helped us discover or recall the various contexts of the mission today and their demands: secular societies where Christians are only one voice among many other; situations of injustice and violence, of misery and despair; but also a world where the thirst for love, justice and truth is developing. It is from these multiple contexts that we asked ourselves: What kind of men do we Oblates need to be and to form in order to be missionaries in such a world?
Invited as a resource person, Fr. Oswald FIRTH helped us in this discussion by reminding us, among other things, of some expressions describing Oblates as “men of the human encounter,” “men of Advent”. We believe that ultimately, by our becoming humble like Jesus and faithful to the charism of St. Eugene, we must take the path that leads to attentive listening to the signs of the times and to the people; to empathy and to prayer that allows us to walk together towards the Truth.
Does evangelizing not amount, therefore, to accompanying others in their encounter with Christ and helping them fulfill the commandment of love which leads to God? In this regard, three areas appeared to us to be priorities in our effort to constantly pursue conversion: community life, formation and mission. To which should be added: the essential role of spirituality, especially an Oblate spirituality.
Which events and which fruits of this meeting shall we share with you? Within the limits of this brief message, we chose four things which seemed to us to be the most important for the future:
A Gospel passage especially spoke to us during this Interchapter. It’s that of the multiplication of the loaves from the five loaves and two fish generously given and by which Jesus fed a multitude (Mt 14, 13-21): the poverty of our means; confidence in Christ Jesus; joy at the banquet offered to all!
Finally, we want to thank all those who made it possible for this meeting to take place in such a good and fruitful manner. In a particular way, we extend our warmest thanks to our brothers of the Delegation of Thailand-Laos for their hospitality and care for us during our stay among them.
For each of us, we implore the protection of the Virgin Mary and of Saint Eugene!
Your brothers at the Interchapter
Bangkok, 3 May 2013
Prior to the holding of the Interchapter meeting of
the Congregation, twenty-six Oblate leaders from the Central Government and the
Asia-Oceania Regional Conference (AORC) gathered for a Joint Session at the
Pastoral Training Center of the Archdiocese of Bangkok in Samphran, Thailand,
on April 14-19, 2013.
The theme of the session, “Call to conversion in the pluralistic context of Asia-Oceania,” was aptly introduced by Gerard DE ROSARIO of the Colombo Province. He spoke of new signs emerging that have to be considered in an Asian response to the 2010 General Chapter's “call to conversion”: (1) popular religiosity outgrowing established and institutional religions in Asia; (2) the huge work to be done on multi-faith integration; (3) the need to prioritize formation of laity over that of the clergy; (4) the need for networking as the way to integrate spiritual/Gospel values into the wider political and economic culture; and (5) the need to challenge the formal Church to go beyond settled foundations.
The Joint Session was preceded by visits by members of the Central Government to the various Oblate missions in the region. These visits offered the Congregation's leaders a first-hand encounter of the Oblate mission in Asia, which now has a 150-year history to it.
Key leaders of the Central Government led by Father General, Louis LOUGEN, engaged the AORC in conversations on the main challenges put forward during the 2010 General Chapter, particularly in the areas of Community, Leadership, Formation, Mission, and Finances.
The top priority challenges in Asia-Oceania emerged from their conversations: (1) the challenge to form Oblate communities that are places of prophetic witnessing to apostolic religious lifestyle, dialogue, healing and mutual support; (2) the challenge to offer sound, professional, intercultural, and adaptive formation for future Oblate missionaries; (3) the challenge to communally discern, prioritize, and strategize missionary involvements according to the Oblate charism; and (4) the challenge to be effective leaders in formation and in the stewardship of temporal goods.
In the concrete, the AORC, under the leadership of its President, Fr. Francis NALLAPPAN, Provincial of India, vowed to collaborate more, particularly in the revitalization of quality formation programmes and personnel, the program for preparation for final vows, in the training of local superiors and formators, and in sharing personnel and resources to help the diminishing Units in the region. (Francis Nallappan)