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2nd Lay Oblates of Mary Immaculate Associate Congress held

Lay Associates from Thailand (Photo: RVA News)

The second online and on-site Lay Oblates Associate Congress was held from May 27-30.  

Hundreds of lay people from all over the world renewed their commitment to bringing the Good News of mercy to the most abandoned, sharing in the mission of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. 

The mission has been always a priority in the life of the church, but the way this mission is fulfilled depends on the signs of time. More and more lay people are aware of their role of being the main actors in spreading the Gospel and how much their collaboration is important in the mission of the church. 

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate Congregation founded in France more than 200 years ago, works closely with the laity that shares in their charism and, together with them, brings the Good News to the most abandoned.

From May 27 to 30, the Lay Oblates Associations around the world gathered together, online and on-site, to share in their missionary experiences and to plan their future activities. Different hubs were set around the world to allow the people from different areas to come together, all these hubs were connected online for three days. 

The 1st Oblate Lay Associations Congress was held in France in May 1996 where a few hundred delegates from all over the world met at the same house the Founder of the Oblates started his mission. This time much more lay associates had the opportunity to come together and give their specific contributions to the growth of the Lay Oblate Associations network.

What emerged from the Congress was the variety of the lay people's commitment due to their specific culture and place of origin. In the Congregation’s historical places, the lay movement is strong and well organized: in the Philippines, the laity supports the formation of the new oblates generation, and they have an active role in the parishes where they work with the poor. 

Lay Associates from Canada

In Australia, they go out regularly to bring food to the homeless; in Europe, they preach in the “parish missions” with the priests and they visit the families of the village. In areas where the Oblate presence is more recent the lay people, despite their small number, are not less involved in the missionary activity.

In Bangkok, they take care of the refugees and the foreign workers, and they visit the poor and the elderly in the villages bringing them food and things for their basic needs; In China, they teach English to the poor kids in small home schools.

The 2nd Lay Oblates Associate Congress was a turning point in the life of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Congregation because it showed what the Second Vatican Council foresaw more than sixty years ago namely that the mission of the church cannot ignore the contribution of the lay people, they remain the main aim of the activity of the church, but, at the same time, they are the major players in its mission. 

Lay Associates from the USA (Photo: RVA News)

Antonia, a member of the lay associates from Italy said: “joining the Oblate Lay Association changed my way of being catholic, I was aware of my catholic identity because I received the baptism, but seldom I joined the Sunday Mass, now I feel proud of my faith and I see its power in making the people happy every time I go out to help the needy in my town”. 

Francois, 32, from France said: “I use to live my faith in an old fashion and I was quite happy, but the charism of the Oblates gave me a new perspective, with my wife we start to welcome students from poor countries, in our house, at the beginning we thought this was a moral duty, we have a quite big house, we don’t have the problem of money, and so we felt that we had to share something, but later we realized that these students were part of our family and what we receive is far more than what we give. It’s a great joy to live such an experience and we believe it’s a gift of the Oblate spirituality, it’s our way to be a missionary in the church.” - Domenico Rodighiero/ RVA Hmong Service 

 

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