Pack nothing? Not likely!


Pack nothing? Not likely!

My suitcase is packed – I am taking only carry-on luggage, God help me. I’m headed to Rome, or more accurately, Nemi, just outside of Rome, on Sunday, September 11, 2022 for Oblate Chapter. I will be joined by six other lay people and together, we will be making a presentation to Chapter participants on Saturday September 17, 2022. After that, my husband, brother and sister-in-law are joining me for a whirlwind vacation of almost three weeks. Hence the challenge of packing lightly!

But I know I don’t want to carry a lot of baggage – literally or figuratively. I have learned through experience that an over-packed suitcase weighs me down, takes up valuable space and makes it difficult for me to find what I need amidst all the clutter.

I don’t want the same thing to happen in my head or heart at Chapter. The danger is real. I have over 26 years of history with Oblate associations; that’s a long time to accumulate baggage. I was a delegate at the first ever Lay Congress, held in Aix in 1996. I was with the lay group that made the first ever presentation at an Oblate Chapter in 1998. I have been on numerous committees and commissions, teams and task forces, locally, nationally and internationally, exploring, promoting, fostering, empowering and animating lay associations around the Oblate world. Along the way, I have been mentored, accompanied, inspired and challenged by gifted, visionary Oblates and lay people who, heeding the promptings of the Spirit, were and are still working diligently and faithfully to create something new in the Oblate world.

Still, that’s a lot of experience to be carrying around, a lot of history, a ton of baggage – both good and bad. There’s forests’ worth of paper, gigabytes of data, all proposing, suggesting, or offering ideas, plans and programs. And the wonderful news is that so much progress has been made since 1996. We saw it so clearly at the Oblate Lay Associations Congress held in May, 2022. Across the Oblate world, we saw lay Oblate men and women sharing in mission, living in communion and taking the charism of Saint Eugene into the world. It was mind-blowing and so exciting!

But the Congress also revealed that we have not yet arrived! Congress delegates, listening to the voices of Laity and Oblates around the world heard of the desire and hunger to go deeper in every way – in ministry, communion and mission. They named the need for, among other things, administrative structures to foster and support the various lay associations around the Oblate world. I know there is great hope that our chapter intervention will authentically express not only the great life and work that already exists among the Oblate laity but also the great hopes they have for the future.

But that’s where my baggage comes in. What am I carrying that might prevent me from doing that? What am I carrying that might block my thinking, shutter my mind? The first thing to leave behind, I think, is the weight of my own history. That’s a pretty heavy load. All those years of working to build association in Canada can lead to a rather arrogant sense of thinking I know the answers. I have opinions, lots of them, and that can easily lead me to think that I know what has to happen.  The peril is I ignore what already is happening or could happen in other areas of the Oblate world. Insisting, “This is the way it is done,” can shut down just about any newness before it gets off the ground. I’d like to leave that at home, please.

I’d also like to leave any cynicism behind; that can really weigh you down. Statements like “Nothing is going to change,” or “We’ve tried that and it didn’t work,’ do nothing but clutter my thinking with negativity, effectively cancelling anything creative and inspiring. I’ll leave that at home, thank you very much.

Finally, I don’t want to carry the burden of other people’s expectations, the ‘should’s’ and ‘must’s.’ If I bring too much of those, I’ll miss the spirit working right in front of me, in the people actually in the conversation.

I am hopeful that if I leave these behind – the weight of my own story, the burden of cynicism and the cartload of expectations, I can travel lightly. I want room in my suitcase for new ideas, renewed energy and a blessed new spirit.

Chapter 2022, here I come! Your prayers are appreciated! – 37th OMI General Chapter – Pilgrims of Hope in Communion (

By Sandra Prather, HOMI

Passover Remembered

By Alla Bozarth-Campbell

Pack nothing.
Bring only your determination to serve
and your willingness to be free.
Do not hesitate to leave
your old ways behind – –
fear, silence, submission.
Only surrender to the need of the time
– to love justice, walk humbly
I will send fire to warm and encourage you.
I will be with you in the fire
and I will be with you in the cloud.
You have been preparing for this for hundreds of years.
I am sending you into the wilderness
to make a new way and to learn my ways more deeply.
Pass on the whole story.
Do not go back
I am with you now
and I am waiting for you.