Called to Community


Called to Community

Over the past few months I have had many experiences of community and much time to reflect on those experiences. Our Constitutions and Rules remind us often that we are called to community: “We come together in apostolic communities” (CC1), “the community of the Apostles with Jesus is the model of our life” (CC3), “community is the life-giving reality fashioned by the vows which binds us in love to the Lord and to his people” (CC12), “We fulfil our mission in and through the community to which we belong. Our communities, therefore, are apostolic in character” (CC37). These are but a few of the references to Oblate community life in our ‘Book of Life’.

Being present at Chapter was a month-long experience of the wider community that is our Oblate Congregation worldwide. About 100 Oblates were present – capitulars and support staff, and for a month we lived, prayed, ate, worked and relaxed together. Spending so much time together in an environment that was conducive (read ‘a bit isolated’!) to forming community was a gift. While it was not possible to forge close bonds with every Oblate present, our small sharing groups and the regional gatherings facilitated the forming of closer bonds with some of the members present. Whether it was sitting together at meals, walking the beautiful property of the Centro ad Gentes, exploring Nemi or just relaxing together in the evening, there were many opportunities to share life. This time of Chapter was a moment of growing in appreciation for the gift of community as well as an opportunity to share faith, to come to know other members of the congregation, to learn about their lives, ministry and environment.

After returning to Canada, we spent weeks gathering with the district communities. In each case, Oblates and Associates came together to pray, listen, visit, share meals and recreation and nurture the bonds of community. The joy of gathering together was clearly visible and many expressed the joy of being able to gather in person and share life and faith. Others mentioned what a gift it was to get to know others through the province-wide Zoom gatherings we held throughout the past two and a half years. They expressed a desire to continue gathering in this manner as we are so scattered across the country that there are too few opportunities to get to know each other. This longing for community that we hear from members of the province is echoed around the world within the various units of the congregation as well as at the level of the General Chapter.

This call to community is a gift to us from St. Eugene, guided by the Spirit. It is our primary call as religious and is also our primary apostolic activity, as it gives witness to the unity of the Trinity, the Body of Christ as well as the unity God wants to have with humanity.

By Richard Beaudette, OMI