Fr. Cleber Lopes, OMI

The General Committee for Formation (GCF) met in Cedara, South Africa from February 26 to March 3, 2020.

The committee was coordinated by Fr. Cornelius NGOKA, Assistant General for Oblate Formation, with one formator representing each region: Fr. Joseph PHIRI (Africa / Madagascar), Fr. Ross KAPUNAN (Asia / Oceania), Fr Frank KUCZERA (US / Canada), Fr. Sebastian LUSZCZKI (Europe) and Fr. Cleber LOPES (Latin America and the Caribbean).

The members of the committee in general have just been appointed, so in the first moment we took time to get to know each other, a beautiful sharing among brothers, of the history of life and vocational history, this was the key point to create a community; in this way, we reminded ourselves that it is Jesus Christ, who as the center of our lives and our personal Savior, invites us to the mission of OMI formation.

It is significant that our meeting was held in CEDARA! The South African region of KwaZulu Natal, where the first Oblate missionaries gave their all for the mission ad-gentes, and of course, our dear Blessed Joseph Gerard. To get a glimpse of where we were, we went to visit the first house where he lived and to learn a little more about the history of the Oblates in this region.

We began the meeting with our sharing about the regions, a time of listening to the reports prepared by each representative, the positives, the challenges, and the future projects. The Oblates working in formation around the world are seeking to respond with great sincerity to the challenges that arise in this difficult mission of accompanying and forming future missionaries. We were also enriched by the shared experiences of collaboration among different regions.

In the days that would follow, we took time to discuss several important topics: Interculturality in the Houses of Formation, the regency experience of the formandi, the Vademecum of the Pre-novitiate, the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, ongoing formation and the meeting of the Post-Novitiate superiors which will take place in Aix in July this year.

Living together with the Oblates at Cedara, both the formandi and the formators, gave us an experience of “feeling at home” as brothers. The Oblates in South Africa have not measured efforts for a fraternal and friendly welcome, offering space and services so that the meeting of the committee was very fruitful.

Besides the sharing with the formandi at the Post-Novitiate in Cedara, we also had time to visit the Pre-novitiate house, another beautiful moment of listening and sharing.

Now the task of the representatives of each region is to bring all those rich sharing, inspirations and challenges to their respective regions, to reach out to the provincials and major superiors, formators and formandi, and continue to shed light on the mission of OMI formation.

We are grateful to God for this important and beautiful moment in the welcoming land of South Africa, and to our brother Oblates of the OMISA province,. Besides contemplating the beautiful natural landscapes that God has given it, we thanks South Africa provided us with a “back-to-school” experience; to learn from a society that always seeks Freedom, equality among people, continues to be a model of the search for the Kingdom of God.