Prepare a Place for Others
“Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house…” 1 Peter 2:5
“I go to prepare a place for you” John 14:2
From the beginning, the context of the apostolic community was at the heart of the Oblate identity and mission. “Community life, in its many forms, has always been essential to our Congregation.” (Acts of the 37th General Chapter) From my experience I have noticed that while community life might be a blessing at times, it can often be a challenge too. Our Oblate communities bring together men of different ages, personalities, life experiences and cultures.
Throughout my Oblate life, I’ve always lived and ministered within the community. Sometimes it was in a very large community, such as over 100 members in my scholasticate time; other times, it was just with one other Oblate in the northern missions. I’ve experienced the blessings that community can be, such as support, encouragement and a place of healing and healthy friendships. I’ve also experienced the challenges that community can bring, such as misunderstandings, undermining the ministry of an individual, gossip and judgement. I’ve experienced broken humanity striving to embrace the ideal of the apostolic community. The quality of our communities wasn’t determined by the number of members, but rather by their efforts to build, cultivate and appreciate community life and mission. It’s not about the community’s “perfection” but rather about journeying together, supporting each other, and often carrying each other’s crosses. I have so often witnessed wonderful things happening when members of the community offer their particular gifts and talents, share mutual respect, and hold each other accountable.
A life-giving community, with healthy relationships, as within a family, faith community or religious congregation doesn’t happen on its own. It requires a conscious effort “to prepare a place” for each other, so every member feels at home. How can we do that? “Community is a place for dialogue and healing, forgiveness and reconciliation. To live in communion and enrich our community life, especially in international and intercultural communities, it is essential to know ourselves as Oblates, to recognize each other as brothers, and to be open to values other than our own.” (Acts of the 37th General Chapter)
By Jarek Pachocki, OMI
OMI Lacombe Canada – Vocation Director