Bro. Samith Sandaruwan OMI
Oblate Scholasticate, Kandy

The Oblate Scholasticate of Mary Immaculate, Kandy, Sri Lanka, joined the five-day Enrichment Program from 26th October to 29th October 2021, organized by the Asia-Oceania Formation Committee (AOFC) in collaboration with the Oblate School of Theology (OST) via zoom. Our community had the privilege of participating in the program together with the rest of the Oblate Scholastic Brothers in the region of Asia-Oceania, viz., Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Jaffna-Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. It was indeed a good move for the Oblate Scholastics living in the Asia-Oceania region, although separated by different cultures, languages, provinces, and countries for we all belong to one family of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Certainly, this program deepened our understanding of the vision of Our Founder and of the Congregation, Charism, and the Oblate values. The program revolved around the theme: “Internalization of Oblate Values.”

During the course of these five days, we were asked to reflect on the few central themes that our Founder, St. Eugene De Mazenod, envisioned such as the love for the Church and Mary Immaculate, recognition of the need for the salvation, zeal for the salvation of souls, the spirit of reparation, the striving for perfection etc. We were also able to explore the topics related to the Oblate world and in fact the Charism and the Mazenodian Spirituality.

We offer our deepest sentiments of gratitude to the OST team who were the resource persons in conducting the program. They did their best in presenting the subject matter under review, thereby imparting knowledge and sharing inputs with their own rich experiences as to how to internalize Oblate values and to get them actualized into our day-to-day life. The colossal contribution they made for our formation journey is very much appreciated. We were moved by their enthusiasm and sagacity they put in carrying out this delicate mission of the formation of the future Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

“Oblate life is not a system but persons who strive to respond to the call of Jesus Christ within the Church.”

Needless to say, that this program is very much enriching and motivating us, the young Oblates, to be well-prepared here and now for the mission awaiting. It truly gave us a glimpse and helped us to broadened our horizons of mission and Oblate way of religious life that our Holy Founder envisaged. St. Eugene was recognized by Pope Paul VI as “a man who was passionately in love with Jesus Christ and unconditionally committed to the Church.” We, his sons too are invited to commit ourselves fully for the greater good of the Church through the Congregation in serving the poor and the most abandoned. Our charism is a gratuitous gift of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, being in the Holy Grounds we are dealing with the things of God and not of the things of men as rightly said by Fr. Frank Santucci, OMI in his presentation on the Oblate Charism. Fr. David Munoz, OMI rejuvenated the Mazenodian Spirituality with its implications. He correctly said that as St. Eugene was burning with love for Jesus and the Church, he was deeply disturbed on seeing the condition of the poor and the most abandoned and committed himself by his entire life for this cause. Further, Fr. Bonga Majola, OMI in his talk on Internalization of Oblate Values said that we are born for the mission and we exist for the mission for we are invited by Christ Himself to follow and to share in His mission. He went onto say that we should own and live the book of Constitutions and Rules as it is integral to the Oblate values. The importance of Apostolic community was emphasized by Fr. Thomas Klosterkamp, OMI while making ourselves aware how to live actually the Oblate values in a more practical way today. He also said that we are still learners yet we are missionaries and our mission in formation is clearly defined. Thus, he reiterated on the personal relationship with Christ, if not one lacks a solid foundation. It is really amazing the manner that Fr. Cleber Lopes, OMI integrated all what we learnt in a holistic way. For him an apostolic man has a sacred history to share and he should celebrate forgiveness, the mercy of God, with others for one’s brother or sister is not divine but a person with human frailties. Thus, this celebration of forgiveness is quite important in community life. All these talks were interconnected and complementary to one another and much inspiring.

We also had the opportunity to discuss in small groups certain questions pertaining to the theme in order to have a better understanding of the inputs shared; these were held in zoom break room. Fr. Julito Dela Cruz, OMI initiated and helped us in this regard. It is really a cherishing moment to share our life with the Oblate Scholastics right round the Asia-Oceania region and to create solidarity with them by way of exchanging news regarding the spirit of formation prevalent in different houses of formation apart from the questions given for discussion. This helped us, the future oblates, to have a close link with one another and to have a broader picture of the region as well.

All in all, we realized that the primary concern of the Congregation is to evangelize the poor. The Cross of Jesus Christ is central to our mission. We need to see the world through the eyes of the Crucified Saviour which He redeemed with His blood. We are indeed merited to hear the words of Jesus, “The spirit of God is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…” (Lk 4, 18). This missionary oblation and mandate should touch us personally as Oblates. A pivotal insight of Pope Francis is that, we are all missionary disciples and agents of evangelization. We therefore become, by our response, co-workers with Christ the Saviour and we imitate his example. Thus, mission belongs to Christ and we are his co-operators.

This program was really an enriching treasure, and I am sure that we can start our life with a renewed mind-set. To conclude, I wish to quote from the Dictionary of Oblate Values: “Oblate life is not a system but persons who strive to respond to the call of Jesus Christ within the Church.”