Oblates Hold “Come and See” Weekend in Brownsville

Brownsville, TX.

Special Thanks to Oblate Vocation Directors, Fr. Richard Hall, OMI and Fr. Paul Dass, OMI

The visitors stopped for a group photo prior to Fr. Mike Amesse’s talk. Vocation Director, Fr. Paul Dass is on the left.

Sixteen young men from around the country gathered with Oblates in Brownsville Texas over the weekend of June 27, – July 1, 2019 to participate in a “Come and See” Weekend where they could get to know some Oblates, and see some facilities and ministries to help in their discernment regarding a missionary life. The men, who came from California, Texas, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee were joined by Mateusz Garsteki,  who has just finished two years in the Oblate Prenovitiate in Buffalo, NY. Mateusz, who will be entering the Oblate’s novitiate in the fall, was able to share his experience with the men who are anxious to know all about what to expect as they consider Oblate formation.

The group gathered at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Brownsville where they were hosted by pastor, Fr. Mike Amesse, OMI. There was a morning Mass at the Cathedral presided over by one of the Oblate Vocation Directors, Fr. Paul Dass, OMI.

On Friday morning, Fr. Paul Dass, OMI celebrated Mass for the group in the Cathedral

Fr. Mike Amesse, OMI told the men about the history of the Oblates in Brownsville along with a bit about the Immaculate Conception Cathedral. He also talked about the importance of their discernment in considering religious life.

Fr. Amesse takes to the streets daily to hand out food to the homeless. The young men went along to experience it for themselves.

Fr. Art Flores, OMI, Vicar-provincial of the U.S. Province visited with the men and talked about perseverance.

Over the next few days the young men had presentations by Fathers Art Flores and Mike Amesse, and had the opportunity to hand out food to Brownsville’s homeless, plus visits to important sites in Oblate history including: The former Shrine of San Juan de los Lagos in San Juan, TX.,  Port Isabel and the La Lomita Chapel in Mission, TX.  Outside the historic La Lomita, they heard Fr. Roy Snipes talk about the 100-plus years history of the chapel, and about some of the recent history in which the chapel has found itself in the way of the proposed border wall along the Rio Grande River.  Some even experienced the “rare privilege” of riding in the boat Fr. Snipes uses to minister along the banks of the Rio Grande.

In addition, there was time for the visitors to get to know a bit about each other, and to chat more deeply with Oblates about the rewards and challenges of life as a religious missionary. According to Vocations Director, Fr.Richard Hall, OMI, “This was a mature group of very spiritual men who are very interested in religious life. They especially enjoyed the “hands on” opportunity to hand out food to the homeless with Fr. Amesse.”

The itinerary included a visit to St. Eugene de Mazenod Parish in Brownsville, in this picture we see Fr. Richard Hall, OMI (front L,) St. Eugene pastor, Fr. Kevin Collins, OMI in the center, and on the right, Fr. Paul Dass, OMI

Fr. Richard Hall was presented with this icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe by the parents of Sch. Bro. Lazaro Angel Leal during a hospitality stop at their coffee shop.

The group visited Port Isabel and posed by the statue of the Immaculate Conception. Fr. Art Flores, OMI is third from the end on the left, he’s just behind Vocation Director, Fr. Richard Hall, OMI who is forth from the end on the left. Fr. Paul Dass, OMI is on the right, second from the end.

At the former Shrine of San Juan de los Lagos, the men experienced the Way of the Cross

With La Lomita Chapel in the background, Fr. Roy Snipes, OMI talked about the Oblate history and mission in the Rio Grande Valley

The visitors stand where Oblates have ministered for well over 100 years. Soon-to-be Scholastic, Mateusz Garsteki is seen on the right of this photo.

A few of the men ride off into the sunset on Fr. Snipes’ boat. The shoreline on the other side is Mexico.

At the end of the weekend it the Oblates accepted six of the young men into the Oblate formation program at the prenovitiate in Buffalo, NY.

The next Oblate “Come and See” Weekend will be held October 11-14, 2019 at the Oblate Prenovitiate in Buffalo, NY.