THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY MEN OF THE BISHOPS

 In the letter to the Bishop of Quebec, which we saw in the previous entry, Eugene has one sentence which it is important to focus on:

They are essentially men of the bishops. It is with this in view that I have founded them and, thanks be to God, they are all imbued with this spirit that belongs to their Institute.

Letter to the Bishop of Quebec, 10 August 1843, EO I n 22

The phrase “they are men of the bishops” has been misused at times. It does not mean that Oblate priests are to be treated by the local bishop as diocesan priests, to be used as he thinks best. The second part of Eugene’s statement gives the key to understanding this assertion: ” they are all imbued with this spirit that belongs to their Institute.” Oblate priests have a specific charism and spirit that they contribute to the local diocese and with which they do their ministry. On several occasions, Eugene withdrew Oblates from a place or refused an invitation to take on a ministry because the specific aspect of being missionary preachers, in an apostolic community, to the “poor with their many faces” was absent.

Our approach is to minister according to our charism in communion with the diocese and to be mindful that our vocation is different from that of the diocesan priests in their administration of the Word and the sacraments. When we are assigned to parishes we are called to fulfil the same ministry but as missionaries in apostolic community.

From our Rule of Life:
“Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with the pastors whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles.
We coordinate our missionary activity with the overall pastoral plan of the local Churches where we work, and we collaborate in a spirit of brotherhood with others who work for the Gospel.” OMI Constitutions and Rule, Constitution 6

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1 Response to THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY MEN OF THE BISHOPS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    One size does not fit all! A general surgeon is different from a respirologist- yet they are both doctors and they both help people to heal. They may have received the same training at some point in their lives, but then they went on to become specialists, learning in depth in their given fields. I also think of the members of my birth family; we are each of us different and yet similar. There are shared qualities and ways of being and there is a love that cannot be broken. We live with the shared bonds that unite us as brothers and sisters.

    I find myself speaking as a committed Lay Oblate Associate within the Mazenodian Family. This is what God has called me and others to. How have we been imbued with this Spirit? The Oblates share their spirit, their way of living, community, love for the poorest of the poor… And we receive these gifts according to our milieu, culture, and state in life. This is where God has placed us. I think of the values expressed in the Dictionary of Oblate Values and the Rule of Life; they are shared with us in our formation and then ongoing as we walk with the Oblates.

    We do not need to change or ignore this shared Rule of Life, for it to become the lived expression of the charism within us. It is how we see it and make it our own as lay people.

    “Our love for the Church inspires us to fulfil our mission in communion with [all] whom the Lord has given to his people; we accept loyally, with an enlightened faith, the guidance and teachings of the successors of Peter and the Apostles. [We live this standing in the light of St. Eugene de Mazenod.]
    We coordinate our missionary activity with the overall pastoral plan of the local Churches where we work, and we collaborate in a [familial spirit with our many brothers and sisters] who work for the Gospel.” Constitution 6

    It is in this way that I do not walk alone, doing “my own thing,” but rather sharing all the gifts that God has given to me, as called by God, and in the light of Eugene de Mazenod.

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