Celebrating the Anniversary of the papal approval of our Congregation Happy Feast Day and a Prayer for Vocations
‘The call of Jesus Christ, heard within the Church through people’s need for salvation, draws us together as Missionary Oblates of Mary.’ (Oblate Constitution 1)
Remembering and celebrating any anniversary is very important. It might be a birthday, a wedding anniversary or any other significant event we care to name. Remembering is a sacred act. Recalling significant anniversaries is a powerful way of connecting to our past. It brings us back to our origins and helps us to recall where we have come from and gives us a sense of who we are today. Celebrating our past lets us connect with those who have gone before us. When we tell their stories and speak their name, we honour them; they are still with us and they are not forgotten. We are here today because of them and what they did.
Tomorrow, 17th February, as well as being Ash Wednesday is also a very important day for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. On this day in 1826, Pope Leo XII approved our original Constitutions and Rules. One could say that tomorrow is our birthday! These are not simply a list of what we can and cannot do. Inspired by the life and writings of St. Eugene and the gospel, they help us to stay true to his original vision and spirit; his charism.
This decision, which blessed our way of life as a Religious Congregation and gave us a public role in and for the Church was welcomed with great joy and gratitude. Eugene himself wrote, ‘Heart and soul we should cling to our Rule and practice exactly what they prescribe… they are no longer mere regulations… they are Rules which the Church has approved… they have become the property of the church, for she has adapted them. We are few in number, but we have our place in the Church as definitely as the most famous Institutes and Societies.’
Today with Oblates all over the world we recall with gratefulness our humble beginnings and the countless Missionary Oblate Oblates of Mary Immaculate who have gone before us. We continue to be inspired, encouraged and challenged by the spirit and vision of St. Eugene. He committed his life to following Jesus, serving the Church and proclaiming the good news of the gospel to the poorest and most neglected people of his time. As we recall and celebrate the day when the Oblate Congregation was officially recognised, we also appreciate that we do not remember this day merely as an historical event. Today, as Oblates and in collaboration with all those who are inspired by the life and example of St. Eugene, we realise that each of us in our way are called to continue his mission and ministry of reaching out to and caring for the most abandoned in our society.
Eugene took as the motto for his new Congregation the words of Jesus; ‘I have been sent to bring the Good News to the Poor.’ This is still our motto to this very day. We are reminded of this very clearly in our Rule; ‘We are a missionary Congregation. Our principle service in the Church is to proclaim Christ and his Kingdom to the most abandoned…Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and hope which only Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.’ (Constitution No. 5).
The radical mission and ministry that Eugene began all those years ago is as relevant and needed now as ever it was. Oblates and those with whom we work continue to proclaim the good new to the poor across world in almost every country as we try to work with the poor with their many faces and voices. Today, we are doing to our very best to carry on and remain faithful to the vision and dream of St. Eugene and all Oblates of Mary Immaculate who have gone before us
As Pope Francis said to us; ‘Your missionary history is the story of many consecrated people who have offered and sacrificed their lives for the mission, for the poor, in order to reach people and places where there were still sheep without a shepherd…. Therefore there is still need of you, of your missionary courage, your availability to bring everyone the Good News that frees and consoles….You must look to the past with gratitude, live out the present and embrace the future with hope, without allowing yourselves to be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in the mission, but instead to be strong in your faithfulness to your religious and missionary vocation… You are Oblates of Mary Immaculate. May this name be for you a constant commitment to the mission. (2016)
What encouraging and challenging words!
As we prepare to celebrate our origins and this most important of days for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the whole Oblate Family, may we look to past with pride and gratitude, strive to be radical witnesses of Jesus today while living in joyful hope.
Prayer for Vocations:
Loving God, you called St. Eugene to send missionaries to proclaim and live the gospel among the poor.
Increase our love, we pray, for those who are most abandoned.
Extend your call to many young people in our communities
and grant them the desire to give of themselves, their talents and their lives
to the service of Jesus Christ and the Church.
May our young people answer your call as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
to serve those who are most in need.
St. Eugene de Mazenod: Pray for us
Mary Immaculate: Pray for us
– Br Michael Moore OMI
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