37th General Chapter
September 14, 2022
We gather as the Oblate Family to celebrate, discern, work and share our faith and missionary spirit in evangelizing the poor. This important opportunity for the life and mission of our Congregation takes place under the sign of the Triumph of the Holy Cross. Our theme accompanies us: “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion.”
The Cross is at the heart of Eugene’s life-long pilgrimage of conversion in becoming a disciple of Jesus. On that momentous Good Friday, before the cross, he not only experienced the depths of his own sinfulness, but in that same moment, tears of joy welled up from his heart as he encountered the unconditional love of God. He was immersed in the paschal mystery: death and life, sin and grace. This was part of an ongoing movement in Eugene’s life, a journey of conversion into holiness.
The Oblate charism, centered on the Cross, is intimately connected to the Resurrection. In his Preface, Eugene calls us to constant engagement in conversion, moving as pilgrims toward the definitive encounter in the heart of the Holy Trinity. The light of the cross illuminates this pilgrimage and engenders hope. When I look out at you, my sisters and brothers, gathered here for this General Chapter, I think of the concerns you bring: the tragedy of the pandemic and its effects; situations of extreme poverty, wars and conflicts; refugee and migrant situations; effects of the climate crisis in droughts, floods, severe famine; and natural disasters. We face religious, political and social persecution. In many places, societies and the Church are divided and polarized. The Church suffers scandals, and people are indifferent, if not hostile, to her. In some places, the diminishment of our Oblate Family has fostered an atmosphere that we have no future and are dying.
I repeat what I quoted several years ago from a pre-novice who declared: “We were born for times like this!”
Oblates are distinguished by one sign alone, the Cross. In what seems to be a climate of death, we proclaim the Cross of Jesus as the sign of abundant life and radical hope, drawing all people together and reconciling us to God, and to one another. We are men, women and young people whose hope is rooted in the fullness of the Paschal Mystery. The Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, is truly working among us to do infinitely more than we can even ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
In this General Chapter, with creative fidelity, we will renew our missionary vision. Let us vigorously proclaim our faith that the Trinity is at the heart of the world and is transforming it, even if we do not see this clearly at present. God travels in our midst and sustains us. We draw hope remembering Abram and Sarah, knowing that the Three Holy Pilgrims are always coming to our encounter. God is among us and with us. We might be inclined to laugh like Sarah, and think that it is impossible, but the Cross stands as a witness to the liberating and transforming power of God, who emptied himself and became the path to salvation.
The Three Holy Persons reveal that God is a communion of love, always outgoing to encounter, first of all, the poor and most abandoned. Made in God’s image and likeness, our mission is likewise to weave bonds of communion, witnessing to the glory and beauty of God’s preferential love for the most rejected.
May our Chapter give a new impetus to the whole Oblate Family to journey as pilgrims with a deep faith in things not seen; with radical hope; and as artisans of communion, beginning with the poor. Mary Immaculate, the Oblate Madonna, blesses us with her loving smile and prays that we might be true brothers and sisters of her Son, Jesus.
Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate!