Dare We Hope?


Dare We Hope?

What an invitation!

As I sat in the Edmonton airport waiting for my flight home from Convocation 2024, I thought of how glorious it is to be called by God. During the 4-hour flight, I would read for a while and then close my eyes so as to be able to think about my experience during the past 4 days with the other members of our shared family and how we managed to be gifted to each other. We chose life, continuing life and how we might carry on in the future with fewer Oblates, but with the Spirit-filled Oblation that each of us was committed to. Convocation was and continues to be like a dream becoming realized. And being a part of the ongoing presentation videos and documents with the other Oblate/Mazenodian Family members, just as the 37th General Chapter was shared around the world.

The Spirit was very much in evidence during our week at St. Albert, and on the way home, I asked her to continue to guide all of us as we continue to walk in the light of renewal and refreshment as we praise God with our lives.

Recently I felt impelled to reflect on my very humble beginnings with the Oblates  and their “Immense Hope” and then to Eugene de Mazenods invitation to join him at the foot of the Cross. Another invitation to life and oblation.

Dare We Hope? The response to that question was born long before our Convocation this past May. It is recognized in the Oblate Rule of Life as well as in at least two of the past General Chapters. The fruit of those seeds became evident in and during the Convocation.

I am reminded of the Acts of the 34th General Chapter “Witnessing to Hope” which stated:

“…there is our special strength, which is our hope itself, our joy-filled sense that, at the heart of these difficulties, God who is Lord of this world, is still very alive, and worth giving our lives for.  The Spirit of the living Christ is within us..” (Acts of the 34th General Chapter (2004) Witnessing to Hope p.10)

The Acts of the  37th General Chapter (2022) gave birth to the title and theme of: “Pilgrims of Hope in Communion”. Reading Section 2, I took note of Articles 8 and 9: “The contribution of our lay associates helped us to see that we are not alone in our missionary field and in living the charism. We are on the way together.”

“We are called to be signs of hope, witnesses, and artisans of the Kingdom in these difficult times for the Church and the world. The General Chapter has given us new energy and a new vision to look forward with joy and confidence and to commit ourselves for a better world. (Acts of the 37th General Chapter (2022) Pilgrims of Hope in Communion p.13)

Our 2024 Convocation left no doubt in our minds and hearts as we were nourished by Hope – intimately in our own hearts and lives, and within the greater community. We faced some difficult truths, both personally and communally with each other.  Facing diminishment of the Oblates we have all come to know has been difficult not just for the Oblate Congregation but also for the Oblate Associates. Our prayers were filled with breaths of wisdom and endurance, as well as the continued expressions of the Charism which is incarnated within the OMI Rule of life.

Could we possibly ask for more?

Hope has been our constant companion over the years since St. Eugene de Mazenod make his life one of Oblation. A loved way of being for us as we continue to Evangelize the poor: the poor are evangelized. It is how we walk in the footsteps of Eugene de Mazenod.

It is with hope that we look briefly at how far we have come in our respective journeys only so as to make space for our next steps forward together.

It is how we Dare to Hope.

By Eleanor Rabnett