Every six years the Missionary Oblates gather for an important meeting, called a General Chapter. Here, representatives from each province come together to review the state of the Congregation and to evaluate its responses to the needs of the world at that particular time. It is the highest decision-making Oblate gathering and ensures faithfulness to our God-given charism and spirit.

Rey, the Founder’s biographer, describes this gathering which took place in July 1843 in Marseilles.

In May he had already sent the official letter of convocation of the General Chapter for July 10. This was the seventh that the Congregation was to hold. On the 11th and 12th of the same month, he made the canonical visit to the Calvaire community as a kind of preparation for the general meeting of his children. He was fully satisfied and his desire increased to see the Superiors and delegates of all the houses assembled around him…

On July 10, the members of the Chapter met at the Major Seminary, 22 in number. After the Mass celebrated by the Superior General, they went to the chant of the “Come Holy Spirit” in the assembly hall, and there, taking his place at the stand prepared in the center of the auditorium, the Founder addressed his children.

But,” say the Acts of the Chapter, “no sooner had the Superior General said a few words to thank heaven for the memorable things accomplished since the last Chapter in the bosom of the congregation than he was suddenly overwhelmed by one of those tender and lively emotions that he could not hide. His spirit, he said, had descended into his heart. The emotion was shared by the whole assembly and each one tried to express the most filial and caring affection towards a beloved father. Guibert’s elevation to the episcopate and the founding of the missions in Canada and the British Isles, he exclaimed:

“These are the wonders of Providence upon us and an ever more pressing reason to thank the Lord who has given us such a vocation and to accomplish even more faithfully the apostolic virtues that this vocation demands of us.”

REY II p 161 – 162

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember the response of my heart when we learned about the General Chapters in our Oblate Studies Program, a practice not just with the Oblates, but with every congregation throughout the Church. I think of the pictures and videos that I saw of the last two General Chapters from Rome. To witness the Holy Spirit residing in the hearts of the capitulants, this being the highest authority of the congregation until the end when the capitulants led by the Holy Spirit call forth a new Superior General to enact all that they have decided upon. Just thinking of it brings tears to my eyes at the very experience of witnessing how the Spirit is fully engaged within us. Is it any wonder then that Eugene felt himself overcome with emotion, saying that his Spirit had moved his to his heart? Is this not where the Spirit resides?

    I think of Jesus, inwhom the Spirit was one, with whom the Mother/Father was one and how they all make up the heart, mind, and body of each of us. We are talking not just about the parts of our body, but the spirit within us, our being.

    More than a hundred years ago Fr. Albert Lacombe OMI joined the Oblates because he needed the regularity, the Rule of Life that the Oblates lived by in order for him to grow and live as a true missionary, so that he would not get lost and separated from who he was called to be.

    This is true of myself. And it shows how the gifts of the Spirit are passed down and shared with all of us who are called to live as Oblates and Oblate Associates within this Mazenodian Family.

    This is what I will share today as I prepare a video to share with our Associate brothers and sisters in another Province.

    Indeed: “These are the wonders of Providence upon us and an ever more pressing reason to thank the Lord who has given us such a vocation and to accomplish even more faithfully the apostolic virtues that [ed. our] vocation demands of us.”

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