Fr. Marco Ortiz, OMI
After nearly three years of living through a pandemic, 12 Oblates from Hong Kong, mainland China, and Australia gathered for their first in-person retreat since the pandemic, preached by Fr. Marco Ortiz OMI.
Theme of the retreat
Perhaps the only phrase most people remember from Qohelet is his infamous and often misquoted refrain, “vanity of vanities, everything is vanity.” However, Qohelet also says, “Eat, drink, and find enjoyment.” This refrain was the theme chosen for the annual retreat of the OMI Hong Kong delegation.
Prayer, reflection, and fraternity
After nearly three years of living through a pandemic, 12 Oblates from Hong Kong, mainland China, and Australia gathered for their first in-person retreat since the pandemic. The entire delegation, with their provincial Fr. Christian Fini OMI and the retreat master Fr. Marco Ortiz, OMI, gathered from 7 – 12 May 2023, in a retreat center run by the Sisters of St. Paul de Chartres for a time of prayer, reflection, and fraternity.
A gift from God
The Oblates of the delegation are involved in various ministries, from Parishes to teaching and working with the homeless and those affected by addiction. Although the common language is English, all of them have some level of Cantonese Chinese. The interculturality reality of the Congregation is reflected in the delegation, they represent 7 nationalities. Amongst them were two young native Oblates representing the two lungs of our congregation: brothers and priests. As they detached from their daily ministries, Qohelet’s words served as a reminder that despite life’s struggles, hardships, and challenges, we need to remember that everything is a gift from God.
Finding meaning and joy in the ordinary
The retreat centered upon Qohelet’s tripartite refrain “Eat, Drink, and enjoy” and the joys of religious life. As a way of entering into the spirit of the theme, the delegation journeyed with two unlikely companions from the 1970s dark comedy “Harold and Maude.” On the one hand, Harold, obsessed with death, is looking for life. And on the other hand, Maude, obsessed with life, is looking forward to death. Harold and Maude journey together finding meaning and joy in all that life gives. This is the message of Qohelet, and the key to religious life, finding joy in the ordinary of everything.
Basics of human existence
Eating, drinking, and enjoying is not a pass to act carelessly instead, it is a call to the basics of human existence. The joys of religious life are not found in the extraordinary but in the ordinary. As the Psalmist reminds us, “How very good and pleasant when brothers live together in true unity” (Psalm 133:1).