Encounters – A Journey of Faith
In the Gospel this weekend we witness the first meeting between Jesus and three of the men who later became his Apostles – Peter, Andrew and John. It’s clear that they had a wonderful encounter. Years later when John came to write his Gospel, he could remember the exact time of day in which the encounter took place – it was about the tenth hour (four o’clock in the afternoon). One meeting with Jesus, and they were captivated by him. He gave them as much time as they wanted. They found him warm, friendly, welcoming and very compassionate. They knew they had met a remarkable person, and an extraordinary friendship was born.
Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. The significant encounter for me happened during my youth. I was very much involved in the Light-Life Movement, also known as the Oasis Movement in Poland. It gave me the basis of a life of prayer, helped me build and cultivate a sense of fraternity and community, and taught me the importance of service and ministry. Through this movement I encountered many mentors, priests, religious and lay people, whose witness have inspired me to a deeper and relevant relationship with Christ. The sense of community within the movement helped me to experience healthy friendships, many of which still last today.
The Oblate Constitutions and Rules state, “We will always be close to the people with whom we work, taking into account their values and aspirations.” Those are the moments and encounters that continually influence my personal expression of oblation. Working in an inner-city parish gives me the opportunity to meet people from many walks of life. I encounter the poor with many faces, those with material, psychological and spiritual poverty. It is so often that I find myself being evangelized by the poor as I journey by their side.
Currently our Oblate province, OMI Lacombe Canada, is embracing a discernment process called, “Forward Together: Listening for the Spirit”. All the Oblates and Oblate Associates are invited to generative listening with an open mind, heart and will. All are also encouraged to speak boldly and honestly in the spirit of synodality. We listen for the life and passion in our Oblate experiences of life and ministry. We pay attention to missteps that need forgiveness and healing. And essentially, we discern emerging edges, a call forward. We meet in small groups where everybody has a chance to share their story and experience of Oblate life and ministry. As I listen to others’ stories, I find myself enriched and inspired in the understanding of my own oblation and in the context of community.
I’m grateful for all the encounters with God, people and events in my life that influence my expression of oblation. I’m not perfect; I’m still striving and I’m excited and passionate about my Oblate journey of life and faith.
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director
P.S. An extraordinary friendship between Jesus and his Apostles began with a simple invitation “Come and see!” Hearing and answering God’s call is not always easy. Our OMI Lacombe Canada Vocation Team is ready to accompany inquirers and discerners as they search for how Christ is inviting them to follow Him. If you are a young Catholic man (18-40 years of age), who is a Canadian resident and are interested in Oblate religious and missionary life, we invite you to “Zoom and See” on January 25, 2021 at 7:00pm – 8:30pm Eastern Time. You will have an opportunity to meet our Vocation Team, to learn about the mission and charism of the Oblates, especially from the Canadian perspective. There will be also some time for virtual fellowship and Q&A.
For more information please see: https://omilacombe.ca/january-25-2021-zoom-see-courage-walk-footsteps-apostles/