Jorge ALBERGATI, OMI
General Councilor for Latin America
Greetings from the Central Government as we commemorate the 208 years of the First Community of the Congregation.
On January 25, 1816, the day the Church celebrates the conversion of Saint Paul, marks the beginning of our missionary family in Aix. As our history narrates, Eugene de Mazenod and his small group of missionaries officially move into the old Carmel Convent of Aix and experience community life. From day one, they strove to practice religious and communal life virtues within their small group, engaging in mission preaching and working with the youth.
For our missionary family, it has been 208 years of faithfulness to this received gift, walking with the people, serving the poor and most abandoned, especially the youth. The approach chosen by Eugene de Mazenod and his first companions in the mission was to work together as a community.
Recently, the central government and members of the Aix Community gathered at the General House in Rome. It was a profound encounter to share our lives, vocation stories, community life, and current mission. It was a moment to live the essentials, to unite in our following of Jesus, and to view our personal history through the eyes of the Crucified Savior, reviving the spirit of the first Oblate community. As Pope Francis stated, “Being a neighbor is an everyday task because selfishness pulls you down, being a neighbor is going out.’” (PEC Discourse by Pope Francis)
As the central government, we are in the middle of our fourth Plenary Session. The Superior General reminded us that we have visited over half of the Congregation in the past year, putting faces to many names and places. We have shared the joys and difficulties of each unit and fraternally connected with many of you.
One of the most recurring themes in our meetings is the Restructuring of the Congregation’s Houses of Formation, Units, and Communities. We are undertaking this journey synodally, expressing gratitude to each one for participating and sharing reflections. In the Joint Session with Latin America in 2023, we highlighted some responses to the question: Why restructure?
- Revitalize the religious life of Members of the Congregation.
- Renew the governance and economic structures of the units.
- Optimize resources for initial and ongoing formation.
- Improve the quality of communal life for members.
This year, we are preparing for the Joint Session with Africa-Madagascar and CROCUS (Canada-USA). These are significant moments for the life of the Region, visiting each unit, getting to know the Oblates, the laity within our Charismatic family, and the places where we are present. These are God’s times, where we seek to know each other more, discern, and dream together the gift St. Eugene and his first companions received, “The Spirit of the Lord has sent me to evangelize the poor.”
In this same Spirit, we wish you a joyful celebration. May Mary Immaculate guide each community in fidelity to the received gift, renewing our consecration and mission.