GENERAL ADMINISTRATIONSecond meeting of commission
The 2016 General Chapter’s pre-chapter commission (Claudio BERTUCCIO, commissioner and members Martin WOLF and Emmanuel YOUNGTEN) had its second meeting in Rome from March 24-26.
With the initial documents already in the hands of provincials and superiors, and being distributed rapidly to the entire Oblate congregation, the focus of the meeting turned to the next steps to be taken in preparation for the gathering in the Congregation’s 200th anniversary year.
election of delegates is also underway, with the approval by the Superior
General in Council of the plans of 3 regions; and two more regional plans will be
reviewed at the April/May plenary session.
The commission met with Fr. Gilberto PIÑÓN to see how the plans for the 3rd year of the Oblate Triennium could be linked with the chapter preparation, and with Fr. Shanil JAYAWARDENA to discuss the possibilities for the Oblate Communications Service to assist in Chapter preparation as well as provide updates and highlights during the Chapter itself.
Reports from the Oblate provinces, delegations, missions and regions are a key part, along with the reports of the Superior General and General Treasurer, of the first days of any Chapter. Plans for these reports will be distributed as soon as possible to the various Oblate leaders. A request for proposals from individual Oblates, communities and committees for topics for the chapter to discuss will also be forthcoming soon.
Finally, the commission reviewed a number of possible logos for the Chapter which could fit in with the theme of “Evangelizare pauperibus misit me—pauperes evangelizantur” and the 200th anniversary of our foundation. These were presented, together with a list of possible auxiliary personnel for the Chapter, and other recommendations to the Council liaison, Fr. Cornelius NGOKA, to bring to the upcoming plenary session.
Just like the famous beggar-saint, Brother Giuseppe goes every day as a pilgrim from church to church. He lights a candle, collects holy cards and recites rosaries. But he also goes up and down Italy to visit the families of missionaries. And when the missionaries leave, he has for each of them a little image of a saint, attached some green United States cash. He remembers by name everyone that he meets.
In the evening, when we go to
bed, he begins to walk back and forth in the chapel into the wee hours of the
night and who knows what they discuss, he and his Madonna of Good Counsel (in
front of whose image he always lights a candle and places flowers) and the
He hears us perfectly without the need of a hearing aid; he also hears what he should not hear and he pretends to not hear what he does not want to hear. He sees very well without glasses and he sees what he should not see and pretends to not see what he does not want to see.
This faithful guardian of the
house where he began to live 65 years ago, even before it was officially open,
on 24 February 2015, celebrated 95 years of life. Ad multos annos!
(Fabio Ciardi at http://fabiociardi.blogspot.it/)
During the last week of February,
a pilgrimage of the priests of the Diocese of Aix and Arles took place in the
footsteps of Saint Eugene de Mazenod. Bishop Christophe Dufour made this
pilgrimage together with about thirty priests of his diocese. The role of guide
and preacher was entrusted to Father Bernard DULLIER OMI, author of “15 days
with Eugene de Mazenod”.
During the pilgrimage, the participants attended conferences on the spiritual journey of Saint Eugene de Mazenod. All the conferences were given at the Foyer of Charity in Sufferchoix. The pilgrims visited the Church of Grans where the first parish mission preached by Saint Eugene and his companions took place, three weeks after the foundation of the Missionaries of Provence. Then, they walked following the footsteps of Saint Eugene through Marseille and completed the pilgrimage by the celebration of Eucharist in the chapel of the vows at the Oblate House on Cours Mirabeau in Aix.
Here are some words of Fr. Dullier during his inspiring homily at the closing Mass: “In this Chapel we encounter Christ who calls each of us by name, to be with him and to send us to bear witness to the Good News. In this chapel, this morning, is present the Diocesan Church with its presbytery gathered around their Bishop. The local Church is a sign of the universal Church. At the end of this pilgrimage, a call is heard, a call to unity and brotherly love without which the Church is not the Church, a call also to love the Church; because no one can claim to love Christ, if he does not love the Church”. (Krzysztof ZIELENDA)
A long work-session, which aimed
at assessing the two recently conducted De Mazenod Experiences and at drawing
up a new program for this privileged Experience, came to conclusion on the 5th
of March. Three members of the General Administration, the Oblate community of
Aix, and two specially-invited Oblates participated in the session.
The De Mazenod Experience is
meant to be a time of spiritual renewal, lived in Aix, the ‘Holy Land’ of the
Oblates. This program has its origins in the decision of the General Chapter of
1953 which introduced to the Congregation the Second Novitiate, which, a year
later, was to be renamed the De Mazenod Retreat. The first De Mazenod Retreat,
given in French, was held in Rome. Subsequently, more retreats followed fairly
regularly, in French or English, and were held in Rome, France, Canada, and the
United States. The General Chapter of 1972 ended the organization of the
Retreat at the Congregational level and recommended that Regions should
establish their own sessions for spiritual and pastoral renewal. Finally, the
1986 Chapter launched the program called the De Mazenod Experience and chose
Aix as a favourable home for such an Experience. The eligible participants for
the program are Oblates of the entire Congregation with at least 10 years in
perpetual vows. Today, forty De Mazenod Experiences have been held at Aix, and
about 550 Oblates have participated in the program. The last two Experiences
were held in 2014, in Spanish and in English respectively.
Recently, the De Mazenod Experience has been rethought in the light of the call to conversion of the last General Chapter.
The following are some of the essential elements of this new program:
# Progressive Integration, sharing, community prayer, pilgrimage in Aix – in the footsteps of Saint Eugene. Fundamental question: How does the Founder’s life inspire my own?
# History of the Congregation and the first Oblate community. Fundamental question: How does the life and experience of the first Oblates inspire my own mission?
# Oblate charism. Fundamental question: What is my personal experience of the charism?
# A 15 days retreat based on Ignatian Spiritual Exercises.
# Concerning the present missionary outlook of the Congregation, with the presence of a member of the General Administration. Fundamental question: What are the challenges of the Congregation’s mission and how do they align with the challenges of my own mission?
# Renewal of vows and commissioning.
The dates of the next De Mazenod Experiences will be communicated soon. (Krzysztof ZIELENDA)