On the Threshold in the Oblate Charism
As I write this the Oblates are convened for the 37th Chapter in Nemi, Italy, as “Pilgrims of Hope on the Journey”. Together, this special occasion highlights for us our union in Christ with Oblates and peoples of Ukraine, with Oblates and Associates in Africa, Australia, Poland, Canada, Unites States, South America, Europe, Philippines, and the list goes on around the world.
I watched Fr. Louis Lougen’s video on the founder and foundation of the Oblates. I watched in the early morning when I was struggling for energy and enthusiasm to carry on my work as Director of The Star of the North. He told the story of St. Eugene at a critical point on his journey, where he felt besieged on all sides with Oblates joining and leaving, with diocesan bishops and priests against his works with the poor of Marseille, and how he wondered with Mary in prayer, before the statue of Our Lady of the Smile, if the call he pursued to establish the Oblate community was really the will of God after all.
Fr. Louis shares how he received a grace through his prayer confirming his commitment and foundation of the Oblates, that together as Oblate community they would go on to do great good in the world for years to come. ‘And so, they have’, I thought. Despite failures and setbacks, God’s mercy prevails.
As I watched and listened, I recalled years of struggle and of turning to prayer to confirm my choice to work in retreat ministry with the Oblates and then to confirm my call as an Oblate Associate. I resonated at recalling receiving similar graces of God’s mercy through the years. Fr. Louis ended his video saying, “Let us claim the grace of hope St. Eugene received!” I listened, trusted, and said my “yes” once again. I got up and went to work with fresh spirit and energy, mindful of communion with the family of Oblates around the world and beyond the world…all those in spirit who’ve gone before us.
At The Star of the North, we are on the threshold of 70 years of Oblate Retreat ministry, and I am on the threshold of celebrating 25 years working in Retreat Ministry. Fourteen years spent at Queen’s House Retreat and Renewal Centre in Saskatoon and The Star of the North for 11 years as of May 2023. Working alongside Oblates through the pandemic and into darker, seemingly more uncertain times with the outbreak of war, I see that the Oblate, Gospel charism to bring good news to the poor, is at the threshold of yet greater good to come.
This gives me courage, and enthusiasm to walk with colleagues, Oblates and Associates for meeting the challenges of our times in a way that is sign of hope in the world. At The Star, we will continue spiritual formation through Word and creation, one with the poor, with the Aurora Living program and a host of other retreats and programs that inspire confidence in God’s Word for a new creation. This is our small and humble offering alongside far greater ones in communion with the Oblates and it gives me joy to see how all these invisible acts work together for creating the greater good.
With St. Eugene we will live united in preparing the post-modern age and generations to come as Pope John Paul II declared of Eugene at the mass of canonization, “Eugène de Mazenod, whom the Church today proclaims a saint, was a man of Advent, a man of the Coming. He not only looked forward to that Coming, but… he dedicated his whole life to preparing for it. His waiting reached the intensity of heroism, that is, it was marked by a heroic degree of faith, hope and apostolic charity. Eugène de Mazenod was one of those apostles who prepared the modern age, our age.” And may his legacy in Christ Jesus and Mary Immaculate be so through us, however small or large, humble, or great, for ages to come.
By Lucie Leduc