Joint Session of the Central Government and the Latin American Region (CIAL)
21-28 August 2023
Day 8 – Monday, August 28
Today was the last day of the joint session. The theme of the Morning Prayer was again “communion.” The prayer was led by the leadership of the Latin-American region (CIAL).
The Superior General’s address: In his address to the delegates, Fr. Chicho reminded them of some fundamental concerns. He emphasized that the community constitutes the fundamental unit of our structures within the congregation. Therefore, any restructuring must be initiated at the community level first. Therefore, we need to start restructuring our communities. No Oblate should live alone! Every community must have at least three members and have a superior, a treasurer, and a council. The call of the 37th General Chapter for the Superior General to present a proposal for restructuring the whole congregation requires that units and regions evaluate their status, using the congregation’s Discerning and Sustaining Oblate Mission. The feedback from the units and the regions will significantly contribute to the Superior General congregation-wide plan.
Fr. Chicho also challenged the delegates to avoid falling into the trap of protectionism of units and regions. We are one congregation.
He also spoke of the importance of Laudato Si for the congregation, the Church, and the world at this time. Our failure to care for our common home affects the poor the most. We, as Oblates, must do everything possible to improve the poor’s lives.
The chapter’s call to promote the vocation to the brotherhood is another critical challenge we are called to respond to today. Fr. Chicho spoke of how he felt personally affirmed in his calling as Superior General when the Brothers at the Chapter blessed him.
Lay Associates share in the same charism that we have received. This is confirmed by the many men and women who are a witness to this. As Oblates, we are called to listen to them and learn how to be faithful to our vocation.
Finally, he reminded us of our consecration to Mary. The pilgrimage we made to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe served as confirmation for him that our renewal as a congregation would be efficacious under the patronage of Our Lady.
Before the evaluation session, Fr. Ariel Martinez, President of CIAL and Provincial of Mexico, presented some points of convergence of the joint session. The evaluation focussed on whether the objectives of the joint session were achieved and what delegates considered as the positive and negative fruits of the experience. Many contributions were made from the floor highlighting the Oblates of Mexico’s hospitality, the retreat center’s personnel, the fraternity experienced, the moments of prayer, etc. Among the negative elements pointed out: too much time was spent in plenary sessions and not enough time for the different committees to work; not enough background information was circulated on some issues before the session; the small number of delegates from the Province of Haiti; the absence of the General Treasurer.
Fr. Chicho presided at the Mass and preached the homily. He was joined at the sanctuary by the leadership of CIAL. At the end of the celebration, Fr. Ariel thanked all who collaborated in the joint session and declared it closed. Fr. Chicho then offered the final blessing with the Founder’s cross and invited all to come forward to venerate it.
And so, the joint session of the Latin-American region (CIAL) and the Central Government has ended. In many ways, it was a fruitful experience for the region and the whole congregation. We continue to walk together as pilgrims of hope in communion.
Members of the Central Government will take some time off before beginning their annual retreat on Wednesday, 30 August. Please accompany them with your prayers. God bless you all!