Oblates and Associates Celebrate Feast Day in Belleville

Belleville, IL

Photos by Will Shaw

Fr. Jim Allen, OMI leads the prayer service

On Sunday, May 19, three communities of Oblate Associates were invited to a celebration for the Feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod at the Esquiline Life Plan Community on the grounds of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, Illinois. The celebration was held for Oblates, Honorary Oblates and Associates and hosted by the Missionary Oblate Community of the Shrine. In order to maximize participation, the celebration was scheduled two days prior to the actual Feast Day of May 21st.

A prayer service prepared by Fr. Elvis Mwamba, OMI and Geri Furmanek was led by Fr. Jim Allen, OMI and included a commitment ceremony for new Oblate Associates, and the re-commitment of current Associates.  Fr. Jim Allen began by receiving the the one-year commitment from the new Associates.

The new Associates make their commitment

“I ask to serve God as an Oblate Associate of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for one year.”

Having made their commitments, Geri Furmanek assists Fr. Jim as he presents each of the new Associates with their Oblate Cross

“Accept this cross as a sign of your commitment to the charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod. Let it remind you of the need to take up your own daily crosses and follow Christ”

Current Associates renewed their commitment for another year.

“…send your Spirit upon these Oblate Associates as they live this commitment of St. Eugene’s charism along with us, your Missionary Oblates. Strengthen their intention to serve you each day in the midst of the world…”

At the end of the Associates commitments, the service concluded with the Oblate’s Renewal of their vows, and the singing of the Salve Regina

The new Associates making their first commitment were: (L-R) (back row) Mary Anne Willmore, Sandy Essien (Front row (L-R) RoseMary Steuer, Maria Elena Niniz, Ana Arzola, Gonzalo Esquivel

The entire group of attendees: current and new Associates, from all three communities at King’s House, and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows pose for a photo.

After evening prayer, the much-anticipated pot-luck supper commenced in the high-rise lounge of the Esquiline. The Oblates provided the meat and the Associates provided a large assortment of home-made sides and desserts.

(L-R) Oblate Fathers Joe Ferraioli, Paul Wightman (Visiting from Ava, MO., and Mark Dean await dinner.

At the potluck, Fathers Sal Gonzalez (left above) and Harold Fisher (right above) seem totally engrossed in what Margarita Garza is saying

Two Honorary Oblates were special guests: Gwen Stauder (L) and Betty Rule are all smiles with Fr. Allen Maes

Some venerable Oblate residents of the Esquiline: (L-R) Fr. Andy Chalkey, Fr. Eugene Prendiville,, and Fr. Joseph Menker

(L-R) Fr. Jim Allen who led the service and Fr. Elvis Mwamba who planned the evening

Geri Furmanek (L) National Director of Oblate Associates is with Barbara Prosser, President of the Esquiline where the event was held, and Fr. Tom Singer