Oblates Focus General Chapter on Conversion

Say Ideals Might Be Clear; Change of Heart Is Needed

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ROME, SEPT. 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are beginning their 35th general chapter in Rome, with plans to focus this meeting on conversion.

A statement from the Oblates on Monday noted, «Our chapter theme is, surprisingly, not mission but conversion.» And it went on to explain that «[c]entered on the person of Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to a profound personal and communal conversion for the sake of our Oblate mission.”

Superior-general Father Wilhelm Steckling will be ending his 12-year tenure.

In his report to the chapter members, he observed that «in the congregation, there appears to be an emerging consensus about our identity as missionary Oblates. It has taken years to reclaim this identity, but now most of us agree on a model.»

Nevertheless, Father Steckling reported, though basic principles have been agreed upon, «they had not yet become full reality. The one missing element was a change of heart.»

«Intellectually and theoretically we may often be clear about concepts and ideals, models and action paths, but the heart is not fully engaged,» he affirmed. «We realized that our whole life style as missionaries had to change so that we could live together more harmoniously, be more consistent in prayer and reflection, and then cross the borders to witness to Jesus Christ to the poorest and most abandoned in more creative ways.”

A committee that was mandated at the 2004 general chapter will propose a number of changes to the Constitutions and Rules regarding the structure of the congregation.

«Perhaps,» the statement noted, «one of the biggest challenges for the capitulars will be to do all that it is mandated to do, all the while keeping its focus on the chapter’s theme of conversion.»

The Missionary Oblates were founded in 1816 by St. Eugene De Mazenod. There are some 4,500 Oblates who work in 70 countries.

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More information: www.omiworld.org

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