From the Sahara Desert to Rome: New OMI Superior General

37th General Chapter

By Devon Watkins, Originally Published by Vatican News

Pope Francis kisses the Oblate cross of St. Eugene de Mazenod, worn by Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate should bear witness to Christ in community and in hope, always staying close to the poor, according to Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, the newly-elected Superior General.

Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, OMI, was in the Western Sahara on 29 September, when he was elected as the 14th Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI).

The 58-year-old Spanish-born priest had spent the previous 6 years in the mission territory on the northwestern coast of the African continent.

Then, the call came, and within a few short days he was back in Rome, taking the helm of the 206-year-old OMI Congregation, which counts nearly 3,500 priests and professed brothers.

Fr. Chicho, as his brother Oblates call him, is now playing catch-up to get a handle on what the 78 delegates have been discussing at the 37th General Chapter, taking place until 14 October in Nemi, near Rome.

But this is not Fr. Chicho’s first time in the Eternal City. He served as the General Councilor for Europe from 2004 until 2016, and was frequently a resident at the Oblate General House in Rome.

Missionaries of hope

Speaking to Vatican News after his election, Fr. Chicho said he feels his new mission is one of “animation”.

“Our theme at the Chapter is ‘Pilgrims of Hope in Communion’. So, our mission is about being pilgrims with the whole of humanity and pilgrims with the poor, in communion among ourselves and with the Church.”

His new job, therefore, will be to act as “a missionary of hope”, together with the new leadership team, known as the General Counsel, which has been elected for a 6-year-term.

“We have to become friends ourselves,” said Fr. Chicho. “And then live the Gospel as good missionaries for the poor, and in communion together.”

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