536 - August-September 2013
July 4th, 2013 - August 31st, 2013



A talk delivered by Fr. Louis Lougen, OMI, Superior General, at the Oblate World Youth Day in Aparecida, Brazil, 22 July 2013.

The Oblate missionary charism which began with a special gift of the Holy Spirit to Eugene de Mazenod is based on a profound experience of the unconditional love of the crucified Savior and is lived by missionaries joined together in a community of faith. It is in this light that we consider God’s call to young people for mission. Today the courtyards of missionary activity are as diverse as our reality. We need community discernment to listen to the Holy Spirit so that we can respond appropriately.

Remember with all humility: the mission is God's, not ours. By the grace of God we are called, invited to participate in God's mission. Saint Eugene’s special name for our participation in God’s mission was “Cooperators.” Oblates are cooperators in the Savior’s mission. What a beautiful name! We must discern how to cooperate in God's mission.

  1. We ask God in prayer to know what God wants us to do.
  2. We use our intelligence and the diverse gifts of each one.
  3. We listen to the voices of the poor and study the present-day reality.
  4. We listen to the needs of the Church.
  5. We listen to the wisdom of the Oblate charism.
  6. We prayerfully discuss and debate in community to reach a consensus.

All these elements help us discern where God wants us to cooperate in his mission. We must also talk together about how we should to do mission and how to preach the Gospel today so that people will hear it.

The Church sees your enthusiasm and participation as a beautiful expression of your faith, your commitment and your Gospel spirit. Because of you, the Church is alive, young and full of life. The Church welcomes you, our young brothers and sisters. It needs you and is rejuvenated by your youth. You bring energy, creativity, strength and unlimited generosity to the Church. Thank you so much!

It is “out there,” in the courtyards of our society, that God has a great need for young cooperators, missionaries. In his time, St. Eugene went to meet the most abandoned people outside of the church. This was his sense of “mission.” Catholics who were already going to Mass did not need him. Eugene wanted to touch the lives of people who did not come to church and those who felt excluded because they were poor. This same sense of mission continues to animate the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. We seek the people who are forgotten, abandoned, rejected and we try to connect with them and to connect them to Jesus and to the Church. It is for this reason that thousands of young Oblates have left their home countries, have gone to the ends of the earth, encountered many difficulties, died and were even martyred.

This sense of mission to the poor, for the poor and with the poor motivates Oblates, laity and young people for mission. What energizes us is living the Gospel more than talking about the Gospel. It is absolutely necessary that young people be missionaries in society today. The Oblates who are priests and Brothers have their missionary field, but there are many places to which they do not have access or contact. It is in these courtyards where you, young committed missionaries, cooperators of the Savior, have your particular missionary sphere of action.

Young people, there in the midst of your family, at school, at work, in clubs, sports, the arts, in the neighborhood, hanging out with friends and colleagues, you have enormous opportunities to be missionaries for God’s work of evangelization. You are called to be missionaries to new frontiers never reached by church structures. You, young missionaries living the charism of St. Eugene, are engaged in society in many ways. I will share some of these which I have discovered in my visits around the Oblate world.

  • Together, young missionaries and Oblates have built houses for the homeless. They have assisted the elderly and infirm to clean their home, prepare food, to go to the doctor and to help them take a bath.
  • Oblates have accompanied young people on popular missions together, making family visits at homes and sharing their faith and the Gospel, always with great respect for others.
  • Oblates and young missionaries have gone together on popular missions to encourage and inspire adults, the elderly, children and young people themselves. Blessed John Paul II said that young people are the best evangelizers of youth.
  • Young Oblate missionaries working together have formed youth groups to help other young people grow in their faith and as persons. They organize formation days, retreats and workshops, festivals, pilgrimages, etc...
  • Among you there are young Oblate missionaries working to protect the environment by planting trees and cleaning neighborhoods of debris, etc. Some cooperators have led campaigns for the wise use of water as God’s precious gift.
  • Some of you are active young missionaries living the Oblate charism at the university. They do not hide, nor proclaim that they are committed Catholics. Little by little, other students are attracted to them… Gradually, some students sought out the young Oblate missionaries to chat about a problem in the family, with dating or a question of conscience. The students had an instinctive trust in the young Oblate missionaries. They felt supported, accepted and received good advice. A dialogue began and a campus ministry, very rich and alive, was born.
  • Young people live the Oblate charism in their professional work, reaching out to the poor and to those suffering discrimination. A young nurse, inspired by St. Eugene, offered to work in a clinic that serves the poor in the most violent area of a city. This young Catholic missionary living the Oblate charism with passion, has devoted five years of generous service at this clinic and has become the sister, friend and mother to hundreds of mainly young, poor and maladjusted people. Even her personal witness has converted other nurses who now want to work at this clinic with her.
  • Generally all politicians are condemned as corrupt! But young people, inspired by St. Eugene, have studied law to defend the poor and help them. Some of these young men and women have entered the field of politics, a huge step to bring honesty and integrity to this important dimension of life in the hope of changing the current system with more justice for all, especially for the poor.
  • An area of great importance today is information technology. It is a world that needs to be evangelized and needs to become an instrument of evangelization. I am an immigrant in this new land. But you young missionaries were born in this era and are natives in the land of information technology. You must introduce the values of the Gospel to this new region of the world which is sometimes against Jesus. You must also, with the audacious spirit of Saint Eugene, imagine new ways that information technology and the communications revolution can be used to proclaim and spread the Gospel. Use your gifts, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, to find new and creative ways to evangelize. Be at the service of those excluded from this territory, especially the poor and marginalized.

Jesus wants us to be the leaven in the dough. Just a little yeast transforms all the dough and makes it grow very large. The lives of young people, inspired by the charism of St. Eugene, are yeast for our society that will bring transformation and strong signs of God's Kingdom.

Young people, I encourage you to work together in community to discern God’s call to mission. The Church needs you. The Oblates need you. The poor wait for your solidarity with them.

An important phrase in the life of St. Eugene de Mazenod: “... we should leave nothing undared to extend the empire of Salvador ...” Young Oblates, inspired by Saint Eugene’s creativity, his passion for Jesus, his energy and his commitment to the poor, you will do great things. Like Our Lady, recognize that it is God who does the great things in and through us. To Him belongs the glory. May you journey forward with Our Lady and St. Eugene always encouraging you and giving you strength!

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