PLEASE JOIN US FOR: “ENLARGING THE TENT: AN INVITATION TO GROWTH FOR OUR CHARISM FAMILIES”

Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies 2023 Public Lecture

Wednesday February 15  7:00PM – 8:30PM Central US Time at Oblate School of Theology IN-PERSON AND ONLINE OPTIONS AVAILABLE

The charism embodied and expressed by a founder or founding community has often “spun out” and seeds have been planted for the foundation of not just one, but often many, religious communities. In addition, these communities have welcomed lay missionaries, associates, co-workers and other lay partners who share the spirit, the spirituality, the outlook and the mission of the founder and those who have followed in their footsteps.

Through bringing together stories and theology, the participants in this session will explore the dream and the vision of what it means to be and to live as and in charismatic families. We will explore the possibilities that open to all if we have the courage and fidelity to walk this road, enlarging the tent through embracing this unfolding reality. We will delve into the theology and ecclesiology underlying this movement in the Church and, using examples drawn from various charismatic families around the world, expand our awareness of the great potential of this movement for mission.

Presenter

Anne Walsh, D.Min and Redemptorist Lay Missionary. Dr. Walsh has presented workshops, courses, and retreats all over the world. She is the principal writer for “On Good Soil: Pastoral Planning for Evangelization and Catechesis with Adults”. Dr. Walsh is also known for her “Catholic Women in Leadership” series on Catholic television. She currently serves as the Coordinator of Partnership in Mission for the Redemptorist Family in North America, and as Chair of the Redemptorist General Commission for Partnership in Mission.

Registration

Individuals can register to participate online, via Zoom Webinar, or in person, on the OST campus/WTC 101.

To Participate Online: FREE     REGISTER HERE

This event will be recorded and will be available for viewing afterward on the Oblate School of Theology YouTube Channel. Online participants will receive an automated email 24 hours after the conclusion of the lecture with instructions on how to re-watch.

To Participate In-person: FREE (Please RSVP Below)

For information or to register by phone, contact Victoria Luna, Director of Continuing Education, at vluna@ost.edu or (210) 341-1366 EXT 325.

For further details on the Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies: CLICK HERE

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GO FORTH, BELOVED SONS

Our Founder always considered himself the father of his religious family. In the closing words of the official missioning of the Oblates to Oregon, we see his fatherly concern:

Go forth, beloved sons, you and your companions chosen by us, to the task entrusted to you, so that in these distant regions of the earth which have been assigned to you, you may always work to promote the glory of God and the salvation of souls. May the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, our most loving Mother, keep you constantly under her protection. May the angels of God assist you. On our part we will never cease to implore for you an abundant shower of graces.

Mandate of the Superior General sending the Oblates to the new mission of Oregon, 22 January 1847, EO I n 78

REFLECTION

“A mission statement is not something you write overnight… But fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.”  (Stephen Covey)

Let us pray that we may be witnesses of Christ wherever we find ourselves. May the Spirit inspire each of us to offer the necessary word and action, at the right time and in the best possible way.

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THE SACRIFICE OF HIS LIFE TO GOD

Father Ricard was chosen to be the leader of the first Oblate mission in the USA because he had all the necessary qualities and shared Eugene’s missionary vision and spirituality.

To found the mission of Oregon, a mission so remote and difficult, I needed an alter ego. He had to have virtue, good sense, love of regularity, real attachment to the Congregation and conformity of views and thoughts with the head of the family from whom he would be separated by 3000 leagues, a devout and experienced man full of the spirit of God, imbued with my spirit, who acts by himself as I myself would act. Only Father Ricard combined all these qualities.

He did suffer from poor health, however.

But although he would have asked for it in time, I had good reasons to fear that he would have repugnance in accepting this mission. Yet on receiving my letter he went down into the lower church of Notre Dame de Lumières and made the sacrifice of his life to God. After that he took leave of everyone and came to me quite disposed to fulfil his mission. The courage and joy of his companions strengthened still more his resolution.

Letter to Fr. Bruno Guigues, in Canada, 24 January 1847, EO I n 80

REFLECTION

In the final analysis, then, the true witness is the “martyr”, the one who gives his or her life for Christ, reciprocating the gift that he has made to us of himself. “The primary reason for evangelizing is the love of Jesus which we have received, the experience of salvation which urges us to ever greater love of him” (Pope Francis)

Today, may my focus be on the love of Jesus so as to allow my actions to speak louder than my words.

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HEALTH

Father Ricard had suffered from poor health in France, and those who knew him were surprised at the choice of this man for a physically challenging mission. Eugene, however, could not think of a better person to send to found the USA mission. He reflected in his personal diary:

Letter from Fr. Chauvet. He gives me an account of the health of Fr. Ricard. The doctor assures me that that all we have to do is raise his spirits and that the trip will do him good. Here we have the reassurance about the health of this dear Father in the necessity in which I find myself of entrusting to him the great mission of Oregon.

At this tremendous distance, a man is necessary on whom I can count for regularity, the upholding of the rule and the good direction of subjects whom I am in the process of entrusting to him. Of this calibre I have only Fr. Ricard available. This will be my justification to those who might be surprised by my choice of him.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 13 January 1847, EO XXI

Pascal Ricard’s character and missionary zeal led him to overcome his poor health and to be a dedicated and courageous missionary.

REFLECTION

“When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.”  (Billy Graham)

Dear God, teach me to be able to focus on what is important and eternal in my life today.

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THE SAME MARVELS THAT WERE WROUGHT BY THE FIRST DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST WILL BE RENEWED IN OUR DAYS BY YOU

Eugene reminds the Missionary Oblates, whom he is sending to Oregon, that they are continuing the mandate given by Jesus to the apostles.

I say nothing of how magnificent in the eyes of Faith is the ministry you are going to fulfil. One must go back to the birth of Christianity to find anything comparable. It is an apostle with whom you are associated and the same marvels that were wrought by the first disciples of Jesus Christ will be renewed in our days by you, my dear children, whom Providence has chosen amongst so many others to announce the Good News to so many slaves of the demon who huddle in the darkness of idolatry and who know not God.

This is truly the real apostolate which is renewed in our times. Let us thank the Lord for having been deemed worthy to be participants therein in so active a manner.

Letter to Fr. Pascal Ricard, 8 January 1847. EO I n 74

REFLECTION

“Missionaries of Christ are not sent to communicate themselves, to exhibit their persuasive qualities and abilities or their managerial skills. Instead, theirs is the supreme honour of presenting Christ in words and deeds, proclaiming to everyone the Good News of his salvation, as the first apostles did, with joy and boldness.” (Pope Francis)

May I present Christ through the witness of my actions and words today.

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RESPOND WITH JOY TO THIS CALL

Eugene prayerfully discerned the choice of Oblates to respond to the invitation to establish the first missionary community in the United States. He understood it as a call from God, and wrote:

Respond with joy to this call, be faithful to your vocation and count on the most abundant blessings of God and on a recompense proportionate to the excellence of the great mission you are going to fulfil.

Letter to Fr. Pascal Ricard, 8 January 1847. EO I n 74

REFLECTION

“Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.” Saint Mother Teresa

God, grant me the light of grace I need in my vocation to live each moment fully in your presence. May I focus on the quality of my life as opposed to the quantity of my achievements.

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WHERE YOU ARE CALLED BY DIVINE PROVIDENCE

The Oblate chosen to inaugurate the mission in the United States was 41 year-old Fr Pascal Ricard. Eugene wrote to inform him of this choice:

The new diocese of Walla Walla is in rather a beautiful country where the harvest of souls will be very abundant. I must have a man to put in charge of this mission who is mature and experienced and whom I can recommend to the new Bishop, who has already become one of our friends, as a dependable and wise religious since, for the time being, our Fathers are to educate nearly all his clergy.

And for my part I need to confide the direction of our men only to an elder son of the family on whom I can rely entirely since he must be placed at such a great distance from myself with the members chosen from our Society. So there, my dear Father, is where you are called by Divine Providence.

Letter to Fr. Pascal Ricard, 8 January 1847. EO I n 74

REFLECTION

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”   (Viktor E. Frankl)

How conscious am I about my specific mission in whatever I do today?

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THE FIRST OBLATE MISSION IN THE UNITED STATES

The Missionary Oblates had arrived in the east of Canada in 1841. Now, five years later, they were invited to establish themselves in the west coast of North America. Eugene de Mazenod wrote to an Oblate in France:

Bishop Blanchet, Bishop of Walla Walla, brother of the Archbishop of Oregon, wants to entrust his interesting mission to our Congregation; he wants the Fathers of our Society to work with him to extend the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in the regions entrusted to his care. By this preferential choice, the work of the Congregation will extend from sea to sea, and by spreading out we will range from Canada to the United States.

Letter to Fr. Pascal Ricard, 8 January 1847. EO I n 74

REFLECTION

“Dear brothers and sisters, I continue to dream of a completely missionary Church, and a new era of missionary activity among Christian communities… Indeed, would that all of us in the Church were what we already are by virtue of baptism: prophets, witnesses, missionaries of the Lord, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the ends of the earth!” (Pope Francis 2022)

How can I be a witness today in my ordinary everyday life?

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RECALLING OUR FOUNDING STORY 207 YEARS LATER

The all-important first day of community life for the Missionaries was obviously a story often repeated in all its details over the past 207 years. In his Memoires, Father Tempier, described it as: “This memorable day that I will never forget for as long as I live.”

Here Eugene is writing to the novices and scholastics who were in Billens, Switzerland, to escape the dangers of the anti-religious persecution by the government of Louis Philippe. He narrates the story of the beginning of their religious family, and draws a conclusion linked with the vow of poverty and the call to simplicity.

… I celebrate the anniversary of the day, sixteen years ago, I left my mother’s house to go and set up house at the Mission. Father Tempier had taken possession of it some days before… My camp-bed was placed in the small passageway which leads to the library: it was then a large room used as a bedroom for Father Tempier and for one other whose name we no longer mention amongst us. It was also our community room. One lamp was all our lighting and, when it was time for bed, it was placed in the doorway to give light to all three of us.

The Foundation Room today

 The table that adorned our refectory was one plank laid alongside another, on top of two old barrels. We have never enjoyed the blessing of such poverty since the time we took the vow. Without question, it was a foreshadowing of the state of perfection that we now live so imperfectly. I highlight this wholly voluntary deprivation deliberately (it would have been easy to put a stop to it and to have everything that was needed brought from my mother’s house) so as to draw the lesson that God in his goodness was directing us even then, and really without us having yet given it a thought, towards the evangelical counsels which we were to profess later on. It is through experiencing them that we learnt their value.

 I assure you we lost none of our merriment; on the contrary, as this new way of life was in quite striking contrast with that we had just left, we often found ourselves having a hearty laugh over it. I owed this tribute to the memory of our first day of common life. How happy I would be to live it now with you!

 Letter to Jean-Baptiste Mille and the novices and scholastics,
24 January 1831, EO VIII n.383

REFLECTION

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” (Colin Powell)

Loving God, we thank you for the dream which you planted in the heart of Saint Eugene and his first missionary co-workers. Today, 207 years later, we are amazed at how much has been achieved through the dedication of every member of the Mazenodian Family to the poor and most abandoned. Accept our desire to continue being inspired by this dream and putting it into practice in our everyday lives

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SELF-CARE AS CARE FOR OTHERS

Father Adrien Telmon’s missionary zeal in caring for others was indefatigable, but at a price. He had eventually fallen ill and needed to be cared for by the Grey Sisters in Ottawa. Eugene’s letter of gratitude to them for their care is filled with the plea to make Fr. Telmon see the foolishness of his endless activity which affected his health.

“Would to God, my dear Sisters, you had as much power to dissuade this Father from throwing himself into a whirl of activities as you have charity to cure his illness… Tell him that this is not willed by God and consequently no one in the world can demand him to ruin his precious health.”

Letter to the Grey Nuns of the hospital of Bytown, 30 July 1846, EO I n 68

REFLECTION:

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” Saint Mother Teresa

Loving God, may the care I take of myself be motivated on my being there for others.

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