Friday, 17 February 2012

OMI: 186 Years at the Service of the most abandoned

As the Congregation of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrate the 186th anniversary of the approval of the Constitutions and Rules of the congregation, I present to you some few important moments of this great occasion of our religious family.  This story that started somewhere in Aix-in-Province has turned up to be a strong religious family comprising more than 4000 oblates exercising their ministries in more than 70 countries in the World.
Here is the message of the Superior General, Father Louis Lougen, OMI, addressed to all the Oblates in the World and the homily of Father Jun Mercado, OMI. 

Father General’s letter for February 17, 2012
Happy Feast Day!  
With joy and thanksgiving
This year we celebrate 186 years since Pope Leo XII approved our Constitutions and Rules. We celebrate this grace with great joy, thanksgiving and a fraternal spirit among us. The Founder saw the Constitutions and Rules as uniting the Oblates in a society in which we would become holy missionaries and be dedicated to the salvation of God’s poor. We see this expressed in the Preface to the CC&RR.
These two dimensions of our vocation strike me in the Preface. First of all, there is the strong expression of what burned in Eugene de Mazenod’s missionary heart: the urgent need to evangelize, to preach the Gospel and reawaken the faith. He reached out in bold new ways to those who had lost the faith and had been neglected by the clergy of the time. This young missionary was busy reaching out to those not being touched by parish structures. He was aware of those who were being overlooked and whose faith was dying. He sought ways to speak to them in their language and to gather them. He met them on their own ground and took the Word to them. He longed to bring them into contact with the Church and to reawaken their faith so that they would come to know Jesus and become his disciples.
In the Chapter of 2010, the call made for us to Conversion in the area of Mission asked us if we are merely satisfied with what we are doing and whether we are simply caring for those who are already believers. We are invited to become uncomfortable and to question ourselves. Are we seeking to bring Jesus to those who are missing out on his Good News and to work creatively with them? As missionaries, it is not our vocation to be content in doing good pastoral work for the people who come to us. Like Eugene, moved by love for Christ and the Church, we are called to notice people who don’t get touched by the pastoral structures, those on the fringes and those who suffer in poverty in its many faces. We seek them out and communicate the Gospel in their language so that God’s grace might draw them to his Son and to the Church.
The other dimension which strongly appears in the Preface is the holiness of the missionaries who will be preachers of the Good News. To accomplish the great mission before them, the missionaries must be true disciples of Jesus Christ and transformed by the Word they preach. The call to conversion is a commitment to give ourselves in an ongoing, disciplined way to the transforming process of God’s grace. Over a lifelong journey, the Spirit will fashion us into truer images and likenesses of God. What does holiness mean for us today? How do we live the Founder’s mandate: “They must strive to be saints”?
Our CC&RR guide us in an understanding of Oblate holiness, a lifelong journey into Jesus, the Savior. Prayer, individual and communal; a life founded on the sacraments and the Word of God; apostolic communal life; a relationship to Mary; living the fullness of our four vows; and qualities like generosity, joy, humility, forgiveness and hospitality are essential to our growth in holiness found in our CC & RR. Also part of Oblate holiness expressed in our CC&RR are compassion; solidarity with the poor; hunger for justice; a capacity for dialog, mutual respect and responsibility; a simple life that respects the environment. We return to our OMI CC&RR to deepen this sense of holiness which is lived in relation to God, to our neighbor, to our very self and to creation. Do you have a copy readily accessible?
This February 17th let us ask for the grace to renew our missionary vision and our thirst for holiness. Together, let us give thanks for the Congregation and celebrate this day by renewing our commitment as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I invite us to take some time together to share “signs of life” that we see in the Congregation.
Your brother Oblate in Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Father Louis Lougen, OMI
Superior General
Homily – NDU Celebration of the 186th Anniversary of the Approval of the OMI Constitution and Rules cum blessing of the new student center…[1]
This year, the OMIs celebrate the 186th anniversary of the approval of the Constitution and Rules by Pope Leo XII in 1826.
There are three things I would like to highlight on this occasion by way of retrieving a legacy of the Congregation to the Church and to the world…
First is the fact that the OMI charism is and will always be ‘evangelizare pauperibus misit me, paupers evangelizantur – ‘You have sent me to preach the good news to the poor and the poor have the good news preached to them’. That poor refers to many things and it allows many readings to the point that practically every one and all things can go under the label poor. But when all things are said and done, the poor, as defined and shaped by OMI tradition through the years, are the MOST ABANDONED!  This was the reason that the OMIs during the time of the founder… the operative words in opening new missions were ‘Mission to the most abandoned’.
The second is the courage and the daring spirit to try all for the sake of the gospel.  Yes, the OMI spirit is NOT that of timidity… It is the spirit of daringness for the gospel… and that is one of the gifts of the Spirit.  The pioneers of the Philippine mission in 1939 were men of courage, men of imagination and men of dreams.
The third is a characteristic that is reflected of the man we honor today – Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI.  It is a spirit of innocence bordering to a certain romanticism that only a child can possess.  We find in the lives of our forefathers in the congregation, this innocence… believing in the goodness of men and women of their times… Paraphrasing St. John’s gospel chapter 17, they are in the world but NOT of this world!  They can live in remote islands in the middle of nowhere, and could be martyrs, too, because they are romantic believers.  Where others despair… and leave… they stay and die… simply because, they believe that their lives with the most abandoned make sense!
These are the three things that I propose for our reflection… as we attempt to retrieve the zeal, idealism and the courage of the Founder and companions as they asked the church to approve their small band of men… selfless and full of fire and zeal for the salvation of souls…
By way remembering the event that occurred 186 years ago… we hope to renew ourselves in that same spirit that opened the eyes of the church to recognize this small band of men… because the church saw in them that this new congregation makes sense… not only for the church but also for the world…
Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI
OMI Province of the Philippines.
February 17, 2012
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.

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