Celebrating richness and embracing challenges of the Oblate community


Celebrating richness and embracing challenges of the Oblate community

Communion signifies relationships that permeate our soul and create paths of healing and reconciliation within our communities and with the world. In communion, we nurture the bond of fraternity among us as Brothers and Priests, calling us to live out our consecration in apostolic community, celebrating its richness and embracing its challenges.”

From the Acts of 37th OMI General Chapter (2022)

From the beginning, the context of the apostolic community was at the heart of the Oblate identity and mission. From experience, I have noticed that while it might be a blessing at times, it can often be a challenge too. Our Oblate communities bring together men of different ages, personalities, experiences of life and cultures.

Through my Oblate life, I’ve been blessed to live and minister within the community. It’s not about the community’s “perfection” but rather about journeying together, supporting each other, and often carrying each other’s crosses. I have so often witnessed wonderful things happening when members of the community offer their particular gifts and talents, share mutual respect, and hold each other accountable.

In almost 30 years of my Oblate life, I’ve always lived in community. Sometimes it was in a very large community, such as over 100 members in my scholasticate time; other times, it was just with another Oblate in the northern missions. However, the quality of our communities wasn’t determined by the number of members but rather by their effort to build, cultivate and appreciate community life and mission. Over the years, I’ve experienced the blessings that community can be, such as support, encouragement and a place of healing and healthy friendship. I’ve also experienced the challenges that community can bring, such as misunderstandings, undermining the ministry of an individual, gossip and judgement. I’ve experienced broken humanity striving to embrace the ideal of the apostolic community.

Fr. Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, OMI, Superior General, in his letter to the Oblates on the occasion of the 197th Anniversary of the Papal Approbation of the Constitutions and Rules, echoing the General Chapter’s discernment, emphasized the importance of the apostolic community in our identity and mission, in who we are and what we do. He said: “I would like to follow another path that, for me, is much more urgent: that each member of our family rediscover the beauty of our missionary vocation lived in apostolic communities. Amazed and attracted by the beauty of living our vocation together, we will be able to find new energy to change what does not correspond to the gift received.”

I believe there is “the beauty of our missionary vocation lived in apostolic communities”. But it doesn’t happen on its own. It requires a sincere effort to overcome our personality and cultural differences. Since we are not a monastic congregation, our community spirit is built on and driven by the mission, fulfilling our vocation.

By Jarek Pachocki, OMI