Fr. Juan Gaspar, OMI
The first meeting of the Young Oblates of Canada US Region took place in May 2018 at Cap de Madeleine Shrine in Trois-Rivières. The latest meeting happened at Queen of Apostles Retreat Center in Mississauga ON, from September 23rd – 26th 2019. The meeting was a continuation of last years’ Congress which was a beautiful synergy of enthusiasm for collaboration. The meetings were a response to the Joint Session (2015) call for increased regional collaboration. CROCUS (Oblate Conference of the Canada-United States Region) mandated a Young Oblate committee to plan a regional gathering towards greater collaboration, discussing the possibility of joint efforts in the North America Region. The committee will continue to assist CROCUS in their discernment of the future missionary presence of the Oblates in the Region.
This year’s congress invited us to focus on rediscovering the essence of our missionary charism and the role it plays in discerning ministry responses, especially with the current mandates of the 36th general chapter. Fr. David MUNOZ, who works closely with Frank SANTUCCI in Oblate Studies, moderated the first evening. On the second day, Fernando VELASQUEZ spoke about the beautiful possibilities and messiness that is Interculturality. On the third and fourth day, our facilitator, Michelle Miller, who has worked closely with Oblates in Ottawa, ON, led us in a process where we considered potential sites for collaborative regional ministry. Fourteen sites were considered in our days together.
The May 2018 meeting offered lots of time to get to know each other and our respective provinces. This year, we accomplished two main goals.
1) To continue to build and foster Missionary Oblate relationships among younger members of the CA/US Region, along with current CROCUS and General Leadership.
2) To begin discernment process to identify one or more existing ministries in the region which we would jointly staff as a regional ministry.
On Thursday the 26th, our last evening together, we visited St-Patrick Parish, an Oblate Parish in Hamilton, ON that is embodying the missionary efforts. We celebrated a beautiful liturgy honouring the Canadian Martyrs and, followed by a delicious supper prepared by the parish staff. The meal consisted of food almost entirely from the Province of Ontario.
We were able to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves, but as always, it was hard to say farewell when we all returned to our assigned ministries throughout Canada and the US.
Each evening was filled with jokes, storytelling and delicious appetizers that hopefully will carry us through the year until next congress.