Associates Seek Richer Collaboration at General Chapter

Mazenodian Family

By Fr. David Muñoz, OMI

With the relic of St. Eugene’s heart (L to R) Pauline Thomas (From the United Kingdom, Representing Europe); Maria Regina Velasquez-Espinosa (From the Philippines, Representing Asia-Oceania); Sandra Prather (From Canada, Representing Canada-USA); Mildred March (From South Africa, Representing English-Speaking Africa-Madagascar); Stefano Dominici (From Italy, Representing the Central Working Team for the Second Oblate Lay Associations Congress); Sebastian Cortes Cruz (From Chile, Representing Latin American and the Caribbean); In front, holding St. Eugene’ Cross: Michele Mbami Mbeukeu (From Cameroon, Representing French-Speaking Africa-Madagascar) and Fr. David Muñoz.

I had the privilege to work throughout the first week of the Chapter with a team of lay women and men who diligently prepared the final report and presentation for the Chapter delegates which took place on Saturday, September 17.

The Chapter theme is: “Pilgrims in Communion.” The members of the team expressed the appropriateness of the theme as they shared life and faith with the Missionary Oblates during the first week of the Chapter. At their meeting immediately after the opening Mass of the Chapter, the lay representatives expressed their emotion at feeling a part of the Mazenodian family. Michele was asked to sing in the choir for the opening liturgy. Sebastian was asked to proclaim one of the readings for the Mass. Pauline was invited to recite the Chapter prayer as the Chapter began. Sandra participated in carrying the Oblate mission cross with other Oblates into the Chapter Hall.

For the laity at the chapter, it solidified what they wrote in their report: the corresponsibility and sharing in the charism is not something for which they were asking; it is already happening! The Second Oblate Associations Congress expressed this very sentiment: we are already pilgrims in communion, Oblates and laity, in one large Mazenodian family.

September 17 was a profoundly impactful moment for me. I saw the struggle of the lay team as they worked through the report to faithfully express the spirit of the Congress. However, I also saw their enthusiasm and deep gratitude in sharing the charism of St. Eugene in their individual states of life. What most impressed me, though, was the pride with which the lay team worked on their report. They expressed how important St. Eugene is for their lives and how proud they are to work in communion with Missionary Oblates and others in the charism.

Saturday evening was a transformative event. The members of the lay team, dressed to the nines, entered the Chapter Hall and there was an electrifying feeling among the Chapter delegates. They presented on the richness of manners in which the charism of St. Eugene is lived around the world as well as some recommendations made by those who participated in the Congress. They ended by challenging the Chapter delegates to consider their various recommendations for facilitating a richer collaboration in the charism. At the end of the presentation, the lay team received a long, standing ovation. Fr. Louis Lougen, the Superior General, gifted each one with an Oblate rosary. Later that evening, the celebration continued with the members of Rome’s M.A.M.I. preparing a social for all.

While the official report made to the Chapter is still confidential until the Chapter delegates make decisions on the recommendations, I would encourage our readers to take the time to listen to the interview produced by the Oblate General Communication Service, Chapter Chat, which can be found below.