Pope to Oblates of Mary Immaculate: ‘Proclaim the Gospel of hope'
By Sophie Peeters
Pope Francis met on Monday with members of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) on the occasion of their 37th General Chapter. The missionary order was founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod in the south of France.
In his address to members of the Congregation, the Pope offered his well-wishes to Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, who was elected last Thursday as the new OMI Superior General for a 6-year term. He also thanked the previous Superior General, Fr. Louis Lougen, for his service over the past 12 years.
“Pilgrims of Hope”
For the occasion of their 37th General Chapter, the Oblates have chosen the theme: “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion.”
Pope Francis noted that this theme embodies their very identities as disciples of Jesus, who are “called to bring the Gospel of hope, joy, and peace” in a time where wars and conflicts, the struggles of migrants and refugees, and an economy focused on the rich engulf the world in darkness.
“Only the Gospel can keep the light of hope burning,” said the Pope.
He also said the core mission of the Oblates is to be pilgrims who travel the world serving the Church in 70 countries, “always ready to go like Jesus with His disciples.”
Furthermore, being a “missionary of hope”, the Pope continued, means learning how to recognize virtue amongst the poor, daring to let themselves be evangelized by those less fortunate, so that they may “teach you the way of hope, for the Church, and for the world.”
Importance of living in communion
Living in communion today, Pope Francis went on to say, is the foundation upon which the “future of the world, the Church and consecrated life may depend.”
This future must first be rooted in communion amongst ourselves, cultivating it with “everyone without exception.”
Returning to the source
Taking care of our “mother earth”, Pope Francis noted, remains crucial, as our planet is the source that continues to feed us “without asking for anything in return.”
Similarly, the Pope continued, it remains necessary to return to God the Father as the source of life and mission, the “first love that prompted you to leave everything to follow Jesus.”
The charism of the founder, St. Eugene, should remain as a point of reference for Oblate life, “rooted in missionary vocation” in mutual love for the other and “zeal for the salvation of souls.”
St. Eugene’s great love for the poor and mission, to spread God’s love through faith, remains an inspiration for the Oblates, Pope Francis said.
Looking to Our Lady as a model for Oblate life
Focusing on the special grace St. Eugene received before the statue of Mary Immaculate in Aix-en-Provence at a difficult moment for the Congregation, Pope Francis said Mary can play a special role “as your traveling companion” along the pilgrimage path.
Mary, the Pope said, gave her “yes” to God, leaving in haste to “share God’s gift and place herself in service”.
Therefore, Our Lady can serve as a model of how best to live in service to the mission and God’s people.
Finally, Pope Francis concluded his address with a prayer for the Oblates as they continue their General Chapter, and blessed the OMIs and those associated with them, asking them to “please pray for me.”
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