OMI World Communications
Around a thousand Oblate Youth from different parts of the world participating in World Youth Day had the pleasure of meeting the Superior General, Fr. Chicho, in Lisbon, at Parques de Jogos, on Tuesday, August 1. Here’s the message of the Superior General which he addressed to the Oblate Youth.
Dear young people.
I have been looking forward to meeting with you here in Lisbon. I thank you for your effort to come and I thank all those who have worked to make this encounter possible. A meeting that fills me with joy. Thank you very much. In Lisbon, we have the opportunity to walk hand in hand with Pope Francis and to listen to him. He invites us to walk with Mary. He did the same at our General Chapter where, after kissing this cross of St. Eugene de Mazenod, he proposed to us to walk together hand in hand with Mary. How can we, like Mary, be pilgrims of hope in communion?
First of all, I would like to share with you a dream. I think it is the same dream that St. Eugene had in Aix. I dream that young people become the driving force that helps our entire charismatic family to live the Gospel with joy and enthusiasm and to proclaim it among the poorest. Or I propose, dear young people, that in the next six years, you be the protagonists of the missionary renewal of our charismatic family and that you do it as Mary did with the community of Jesus: the Church, so that we can be pilgrims of hope in communion. Do you want to help us in this adventure?
We are pilgrims, and we seek happiness in our lives. With all humanity, we seek the fullness of life, justice and peace. We know that to become fully happy, we cannot stand still. We need to go out of our comfort zones. We need to risk, to grow, to walk. All of humanity is on pilgrimage, and to be fully human, and fully happy, we have to go on pilgrimage to build universal fraternity.
When Mary heard the Angel’s announcement, she responded with a big YES to God’s plan. Luke’s Gospel says that immediately and “with haste, she set out on her journey”. Mary did not know very well what the words of the angel meant, and she was afraid and doubted. We too, are afraid and doubtful. Mary set out to serve, and along the way, things became clearer. Mary teaches us that to fulfil the mission, we must leave the familiar; we must abandon our comforts and go on a pilgrimage in search of God’s will.
Mary also teaches us that in order to go on a pilgrimage, we need to walk with God. She walked with the presence of Jesus in her womb. We have to do the same, walk with Jesus, who tells us: do not be afraid, I am with you. Do not let fear or doubt impede your pilgrimage. On the way, Jesus will teach us with his Word and strengthen us with his presence. The important thing is that we go on pilgrimage hand in hand with Jesus and Mary.
How can we, Oblates and young people, walk together seeking to respond to God’s plan? What are the fears that prevent me from walking?
When Mary meets Elizabeth joy, and hope explode in a song of praise to God. It is the Magnificat that speaks of a merciful God who will save humanity, starting from the poorest. A God who does justice, bringing down from the throne the powerful and the proud and exalting the poor and the humble. A God who looks at our littleness for freedom and fullness of life with his mercy. Mary discovers all this by placing herself at the service of her cousin and is thus the servant of all humanity.
When one looks at the situation of humanity, one is tempted to despair. Mary teaches us that Jesus, rich in mercy, is the hope of the poor and the suffering. If we keep the Gospel in our hearts and put it into practice, we will be like Him. The hope of the poor is in Jesus, and it is we who have to proclaim the Gospel by the way we live.
Like Mary, let us keep in our hearts the words of Jesus. Let us be a Gospel that the poor can read and hear. Let us be sowers of hope by placing ourselves at the service of the poorest. And at the same time, let us allow ourselves to be touched by the poor because God has chosen them to act with mercy and save humanity from its drift. Let us learn to read and live the Gospel and to allow ourselves to be evangelized by the poor.
How can we, Oblates and young people, live the Gospel together with the poor? Can you share some experience? What do you find most difficult about the Gospel?
The Church invites us to synodality, a word that means to walk together. The last General Chapter invites us to go on pilgrimage in communion and to take care of our common home, our charismatic family. The model for pilgrimage in communion we have in Mary who knew how to build a missionary community, going out and serving. From the Angel’s announcement, she sets out on the road and visits Elizabeth and her family, thinking of putting herself at their service. She will do the same in the house of Nazareth together with Joseph, helping Jesus to grow in stature, wisdom and grace: communion and service. Later she will set out to be Jesus’ disciple when he preached. On the cross Jesus gives us Mary as a mother to accompany us in our daily crosses. Mary will be the Mother of the Church, a missionary communion. Her secret was that she always responded with a Yes to the calls of the Holy Spirit and was herself a Temple of the same Spirit.
We cannot walk alone. We need to be in communion with the Church and we need to be in communion with God. We have a very great responsibility to take care of our relationships so that they are evangelical, just as Jesus wanted: love one another as I have loved you, wash one another’s feet, listen to my Word and keep it, whoever does this to one of the poorest of my little ones does it to me and I am with you until the end of the world.
Our groups must become a field hospital that cares for all the wounded and also a tent where we meet God and open to welcome and hospitality for all. In my letter of February 17 of this year I wrote: “Let our houses become missionary homes, centered on Jesus Christ, living the Gospel, welcoming and protecting the most vulnerable and going out on the roads as pilgrims of hope in communion”. My dream is that you young people will be the main protagonists in caring for our common home in order to better serve the mission and the poor.
How can we make this dream come true? What would we have to change or improve in our groups to live in communion with God, with each other and with the poor?
Dear young people. You will now go and discuss this message in small groups. I look forward to hearing and learning from your conclusions. I am sure that St. Eugene will also be very attentive to your contributions, as he was in Aix with his young people. He had a very intense relationship with many of them throughout his life, some of whom were key Oblates in the early days of the Congregation. Let us walk with him as pilgrims of hope in communion, hand in hand with Mary Immaculate, our mother and model. May they and all our Blessed Oblates intercede for us to be the holy missionaries in the community that God has dreamed of us.
Thank you very much.
Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, OMI