Nil Linquendum Est Inausum
“We must spare no effort to extend the Saviour’s empire…” Preface to the Oblate Constitutions and Rules 1825 Manuscript
Fr. M Courvoisier wrote: “Nil linquendum est inausum ut proferatur imperium Christi…”, which states the text of the Preface of our Constitutions and Rules of 1826. As a literal translation, I suggest: ‘We must overlook nothing, leaving nothing undared, to advance, to extend the reign of Christ’. This apothegm has sustained and presently sustains the missionary thrust of the Congregation.”
Leaving nothing undared is a bold and challenging statement. The history of the Oblates in Canada had been filled with true daring. The Canadian missionary adventure began in 1841 when Eugene de Mazenod enthusiastically responded to the request of Bishop Bourget of Montreal by sending 6 men overseas out of a still relatively small Oblate Congregation. Upon their arrival to Canada, the Oblates embraced the ministry of preaching as they were instructed by the Founder. In their missionary zeal, they also learnt from experience and realized that the preaching methods of Europe needed some adaptation to the new situation. Extending their missions from the Montreal region to the north bank of the Saint Lawrence River, and expanding to the West, and James Bay, they introduced the concept of itinerant missions. Encountering new cultures, the Oblates understood the importance of learning the language of the people, which often meant more than just words. For example, the Oblates Pierre Aubert and Alexandre Taché upon their arrival to St. Boniface spent several months studying indigenous languages so they could better minister to the people. Every step of Canadian mission was an expression of “leaving nothing undared”! Nil linquendum est inausum
However nowadays, with aging and diminishing membership, secularized culture, the reappearance of the haunting “ghost” of the painful failure of residential schools and with no men in formation besides the Kenya Mission… One might wonder: is there any daring left in us. Do we have enough passion and enthusiasm, to embrace St. Eugene’s call to “leave nothing undared”? Nil linquendum est inausum
Last year our Oblate province, OMI Lacombe Canada, embraced a discernment process called, “Forward Together: Listening for the Spirit”. All the Oblates and Oblate Associates were invited to generative listening with an open mind, heart and will, and were encouraged to speak boldly and honestly in the spirit of synodality. We listened for the life and passion in our Oblate experiences of life and ministry. We paid attention to missteps that needed forgiveness and healing. And essentially, we discerned emerging edges – a call forward. We met in small groups where everybody had a chance to share their story and experience of Oblate life and ministry. Out of those conversations a number of orientation and directions were formulated looking towards the future.
We’ve heard a strong and passionate call to synodality, to healthy, authentic Oblate Community life, to ensure respectfully the participation of our elders in our ministerial and community life, to on-going discernment of our mission and ministry, to a Vocations Culture, to nurture Oblate Association and to embrace interculturality. Isn’t that daring? There is already a strategic plan developed and some actions taken. It speaks loudly that we are not yet ready to “close up shop”, that we still hear the call of the Spirit in Canadian reality, that nil linquendum est inausum!
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI