LATIN AMERICAA new community in Rodó
About 3 years ago, during the annual retreat of the Delegation of Uruguay, while on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Virgin of the Thirty-three at Florida, we Missionary Oblates asked ourselves: why not ask the Virgin to help to found a new community? In reality, there were not many of us, but we trusted in the fact that the good God would provide. Maybe it’s only an anecdote, but I am convinced that it was at that moment that a new foundation began.
Opening a new community is not at
all easy. First of all, one must understand the purpose. We must not forget
that we Oblates have been called to evangelize the poor in community. Then we
must see what the diocese is planning and consider whether we have the
personnel available for the activity. A lot of things have to come together for
a common goal and we had to discover where God wanted to lead us.
What seemed important right from the start was the openness of the bishop of Mercedes. He proposed that we establish a community for the missionary animation of the diocese: certainly a challenge but an interesting one, to return to our origins. The clergy also seemed interested in our missionary work and in our presence as religious in the diocese. After having consulted the entire delegation, the response was positive and it was necessary to pick a place.
We were looking for a place to establish the community that would be at the center of the diocese so we could get around quickly, a place that did not require the work of a big parish that would have taken us from our principal activity. The place suggested by the bishop was a town some 200 km from Montevideo called José Enrique Rodó, better known as Rodó. This place had been taken care of for 40 years by an Italian priest “fidei donum” who had recently died. This missionary devoted his life for the people, especially setting up important services. Besides having well-furnished chapels, he provided wedding dresses for women who wanted to get married but who were too poor to buy; he had a radio station; he broadcast the mass on the local television station, etc.
After his death, the town had a supply priest for a few months. We arrived in January of this year and we immediately began to establish first contact with the people of the place and with the pastoral workers of the neighboring areas. For us Oblates, it is a big challenge that requires the collaboration of everybody. Right now, we are 13 missionaries in Uruguay, but it is a challenge that feels like a new beginning, a new life.
We now have two Oblates on site, Fr. Agostino IADEROSA and Fr. Stefano CARTABIA, and we hope to have a third one soon. We have already scheduled two missions for this year and a youth mission in 2016 for the youth of the diocese. It’s a big step for our little delegation. It is helping us to prepare for the bicentennial of the foundation of the Oblates; it gives us a desire to renew ourselves and to keep alive the legacy of Saint Eugene and of the Oblates who have preceded us. It helps us to be a Church “on the go”, such as Pope Francis is requesting, so as to pass on the joy of the Gospel. (Fr. Jorge ALBERGATI)