Dear Archbishop of Dakar and my dear brothers and sisters.

We give thanks to God who has called together today in Dakar all the Superiors of the Units of the Region of Africa Madagascar together with the central government. Our whole charismatic family is praying for us and joins us in our common pilgrimage to sow hope among the poorest and to build communion in the Church and in the world. We begin our assembly by celebrating the Eucharist and asking for the grace of the Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ may be at the center of our dialogues, at the center of our communal search for God’s will. For that is what it is all about, seeking God’s will together in a process of communal discernment that will help us discover how to collaborate with Jesus in proclaiming the Gospel to the poorest by living our Oblate charism.

The first reading invites us to listen carefully. When all God’s people, deceived by the two judges, are ready to kill an innocent victim, Daniel, a child, raises his voice. The audacity of the child to raise his voice in this situation is as surprising as the people’s listening to someone who in principle could contribute little to the process. Boldness to speak from the heart and boldness to listen from the heart. Listening to God in his Word, but also listening to the little ones because often God reveals himself through those from whom no one expects a response.

I would like this assembly to continue this synodal process of spiritual listening to which the whole Church is invited. We are invited to go on pilgrimage together listening from the heart to discover the word of God that dwells in the heart of the other. This listening will help us to overcome any temptation to close in on ourselves by defending ideological positions or the interests of a particular group. It will help us to open ourselves to the will and judgement of God in order to discover what He is asking of us today for the good of the Church, the Congregation and the poor.

Perhaps before speaking and teaching others we have to retreat many times to the Mount of Olives, as Jesus did before teaching in the Temple. Only a prayerful attitude helps to have a free heart to speak and to listen. “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone”, says the Lord. Indeed, Jesus invites us to examine our hearts to see if we are free enough when we listen and when we speak. Free from prejudice, free from our own ego so that we can open ourselves to the freedom of the children of God. Free from the pressure of the group that often wants to impose its law in order to “test” others by mistrusting their intentions. Freedom of heart is a grace that we must ask for ourselves and also for others: Lord, set us free from our sins so that we can listen to one another and discern together your holy will.

Our Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, desired to be like Jesus. Eugene de Mazenod and our Oblate saints strove during their lifetime to make real what St. Paul asked of the Philippians: “Have the same mind as Christ Jesus”. Today the Gospel shows us in all its radicalness what those sentiments were: Jesus had a merciful heart. It is his mercy that dominates his dialogue with that woman who was terrified of her imminent death, caught in the act of adultery. It is this mercy that offers this woman a new beginning, a new opportunity for conversion: “Woman, does no one condemn you? Go and sin no more”.

It is God’s mercy that has called us to this meeting to give us too a new opportunity to be like Jesus and to have a merciful heart as we go on pilgrimage in search of communion. Only a merciful heart is capable of listening with tenderness to the little ones or to those who do not think like me, only he is capable of discovering the salvation needs of the poorest. Let us ask for a heart that is capable of giving its life in oblation to fulfil the will of the Father and to collaborate with the redeeming death of Christ, making hope grow for all humanity.

It is from the merciful heart of Christ that we will find together what God asks of us to live fully the Oblate charism and mission in our beloved Region of Africa-Madagascar. As our whole charismatic family contemplates us in these days, let us strive to be witnesses of hope. We will be so if we reproduce that merciful heart of Jesus in our way of praying, in our way of relating, in our way of speaking and listening, in our way of making decisions, in our way of celebrating our friendship, in our way of making possible in these days the Founder’s dream of us becoming the most united family in the world.

Even though we may go through moments of darkness and uncertainty, let us trust in the Lord, who is our shepherd and who guides us. Let us not be afraid to go on pilgrimage as brothers and sisters because Jesus, the Pilgrim, guides us and accompanies us with his tenderness and mercy. Let us trust in him who anoints us with the perfume of his Spirit, offering us each day his cup of salvation. Let us help one another to find fullness and joy in our life and mission so that one day we may all dwell together in his house, together with Mary Immaculate, our Mother, and our Oblate saints and blessed Oblates who walk with us and intercede for us. May the peace and mercy of the Trinity be present in our hearts and may God grant us the gift of living our charism and our mission to the full in these days of pilgrimage together in hope and communion. Amen.

Superior General
March 18, 2024, Dakar, Senegal