Action on behalf of justice, peace and the integrity of creation is an integral part of evangelization.
Responding to the call of the Spirit, some Oblates identify themselves with the poor, sharing their life and commitment to justice; others are present where decisions affecting the future of the poor are being made.

CC&RR, Rule 9a

In the previous reflection I spoke about Daniel LeBlanc working at the United Nations as part of VIVAT.

VIVAT International is a coalition of religious congregations… The Oblate Congregation, and consequently, every individual Oblate, is an associate member of VIVAT. http://www.omiworld.org/en/content/news/2801/vivat-holds-a-workshop/

The impressive VIVAT website (http://vivatinternational.org) puts forward the goals and purpose of this association of religious congregations:

VIVAT International focuses on issues dealing with human rights particularly in the areas of women, poverty eradication, sustainable development, and the culture of peace.

VIVAT International has the following goals:

  • To engage in advocacy and lobbying on issues of human rights, justice and peace at the headquarters of the United Nations (New York) and its Regional Offices and Desks in Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas;
  • To promote networking and awareness raising among VIVAT members through the sharing and distribution of information on our areas of focus;
  • To glean the grassroots experiences and insights from its members and bring these to the attention of others, particularly the United Nations;
  • To provide a liaison for networking and collaboration with other agencies and NGOs;…

We believe that the presence and long term experience of our members, in many and varied situations in the world, is an important resource for achieving these goals.”

You asked me, “What do the Oblates do? Well, that depends on the needs, from country to country, and it also depends on what that same reality lets you or does not let you accomplish… I do know Latin America, and there, the first thing the Oblates do is choose the poorest places to minister, where there is ongoing poverty. We ask the Bishop, “Which are the poorest places? Where is there the most need for missionaries?” It is there that you will find the Oblates – in solidarity, physically with the poor, to become experts in understanding their problems. In the majority of the countries where we serve, there is what we know as Religious Communities Placed in the Midst of Poverty (CRIMPO, in Spanish). It is the first condition in which we put ourselves – to live “next door” to the poor. This is also the preferred and privileged place to have our Oblate formation communities. We want our young Oblates to understand this dynamic of the incarnation of the same Lord Jesus, who was in solidarity with us in all things but sin.”    Gilberto Pinon OMI

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    It is wonderful to learn about different organizations that the Oblates are involved in, about the Oblates who take on this work. Here at home they are not mentioned very much. There is still within me a desire to recognize and celebrate and give thanks for each other. I am always so grateful to be able to learn more about the Oblates and other members of the Mazenodian Family.

    I am not always sure that I “I live next door to the poor” or even in their neighbourhood. But Gilberto Pinon’s questions of ‘which are the poorest places’ and ‘where is the most need’ reminded me of how I sought out where I would spend my time volunteering over the years.

    Many years ago I decided that I would become a foster mother to a child in another country who needed help. When I signed up the organization asked me what kind of a child did I wish to foster. My answer was immediate as I told them I wanted a child that nobody else wanted to take, one that was not loved in by anyone.

    I remember too going to volunteer in a nursing home – I would spend time with one of their patients, be there to listen to her, take her out for walks, be a friend. Again I asked them for one who was most difficult to get along with, that nobody else wanted to be with. The lady I got was simply hurting – she was actually very beautiful and we became good friends.

    Over the years my volunteering and ministry work opened new doors for me to find areas and tasks that did/do not always attract many others – all quite ordinary and small, not really visible. They are quite unremarkable. But sometimes so are the faces of poverty.

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