Father Steckling, 57, was first elected superior general in 1998. In 1992 the congregation’s general chapter elected him second assistant general.
Founded in 1816, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate have 4,440 members, including 580 in formation, in 70 countries. Pope Pius XI once described the Oblates as “specialists in difficult missions.”
In statements on Vatican Radio, German-born Father Steckling explained that although the Oblates maintain their presence in remote indigenous populations, “today there is a new frontier, perhaps the most difficult: interreligious dialogue.”
The Oblates try to be missionaries “in Muslim countries, at times in countries characterized by armed conflicts, as in the south of the Philippines,” he noted.
“Another frontier is Eastern Europe. New foundations have come into being in Belarus, Romania and the rest of the former Communist world,” the superior general added.
“I think that the frontiers of the mission are always demanding,” he said. “There is much to be done. I always say: a missionary will never be without work.”