García Ismael, OMI

Fr. Ismael, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate from the Mediterranean Province, recently participated in the World Youth Day activities in Lisbon. The Experience provoked in him some deep reflection, here he shares with us his reflections on this unforgettable experience.

32 years ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in one of the annual summer camps held by the parish of San Leandro in (Aluche) Madrid.  I am talking about July 1991. It was my first time participating in such an activity.  At that time, Fr. Chicho was the parochial vicar of that parish.

A few weeks ago, I accompanied a small group of ten young people from our Oblate parish in Malaga (Our Lady of Hope and St. Eugene de Mazenod) to the Oblate Encounter before WYD, organized by the Mediterranean Province, and later to WYD with all the young people from around the globe. I was taken aback by how Fr. Chicho, whom I had met many years ago when I was a young man of fifteen, is the same one with whom we shared, especially with the group of young Spaniards. I want to talk about two things that show this is true.

His way of talking and being a witness to young people of God’s love

In the first place, his way of talking and being a witness to young people of God’s love, the love for Jesus Christ and the Gospel, which he tries to live daily, and the love for the poor were things that at that moment helped form my Christian life.  He taught me how to read the Gospel, love Jesus Christ, and love those who are most in need.  In synthesis, his message resonated directly within me, both in the words that he addressed the young people during the preliminary meetings and then during the Oblate Encounter, when he met Oblate Youth from around the world in the middle of WYD.

His way of living and relating to young people

Secondly, his way of living and relating to young people. Fr. Chicho has always been a close and attentive person who showed concern for young people. And he has shown this by sharing in our experiences, our own lives, by sharing in our fatigue, standing waiting in queues, not sleeping, etc…the difficulties that any young person experiments during World Youth Day. He reminded me of that first summer camp I shared with him where we didn’t have electricity or running water in a hotel in a town in León. On this World Youth Day, thirty-five years later, we have again shared other types of discomforts, just as we did at that time.  It was a joy to share these special days with him and other members of the general administration who accompanied us.  

Moved by his closeness and proximity

The young people were surprised by his closeness and proximity, his willingness to talk to any of them with such naturality, and his willingness to answer all the questions and personal concerns they had because they were living with an Oblate who was sharing life with them. I was once again affirmed that the Chicho whom I had encountered thirty-two years ago remains the same, and has come to share with us again.

A complete and broader vision of what we lived during those days

I will end with one last thing. I recently received all the speeches and catechesis Pope Francis gave in Lisbon. It would be nice to be able to have Chicho’s two catechesis and his responses to the young people during these days before the arrival of Pope Francis.  This will help to have a complete and broader vision of what we lived during those days.  We were with two people who, each in their way, have transmitted to us the same message of love for Jesus Christ and the most abandoned in our world.