The Oblates rejoice: in Canada


On July 2, 1952, 65 years ago, the Institute was founded in Canada by Fr. Louis-Marie Parent, O.M.I.  This is why Missionary Oblates, members of the Voluntas Dei Secular Institute, Volunteers of God and members of the Amicale 5-5-5 (Association of former Oblates) will gather to celebrate at Our Lady of the Cape Basilica on July 1st, 2017, in Trois-Rivières.
Here is the talk given by the President on that occasion:

JULY 1st, 2017

The Institute is celebrating its 65th anniversary and we can be very proud of it. We are thankful to Fr. Louis-Marie Parent, our founder, who successfully implemented an Institute whose members are consecrated to God and who are present at the heart of the world while living the formative spirituality of the 5-5-5. We have gone through difficult times, but thanks to the strength, the courage and the generosity of our pioneers and each one of us, the Institute has continued on its way. Today, we also underline the 65th anniversary of Oblate life of six of our pioneer-members. Our warmest congratulations to Reine-Aimée Welsh, Cécile Béliveau, Louisette Bouchard, Aurélie Boudreau, Cécile Côté and Doris Plourde. Heartfelt thanks to these first Oblates. Many years ago, it wasn’t easy to trust this new form of consecrated life known as a secular institute. Many parents were hesitant to let their daughters join a nascent Institute still seeking its way.  
Today, we gather as a family. The theme we have chosen is inspired by Pope Francis, “Look to the past with gratitude, live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope”. Let us allow these three invitations to speak to our heart.


Look to the past with gratitude

Today, in our celebration, we have highlighted spiritual and family aspects that come from the same root which is that of the foundation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate founded two hundred years ago. The first spiritual source of the family comes from St. Eugene de Mazenod.

Our Institute, the Oblates (OMMI), was founded on July 2 1952 by Fr. Parent, O.M.I., a missionary Oblate who sought out the Will of God.  I also wish to underline the many years of service rendered by Fr. Roger Gauthier O.M.I. who contributed to the spirituality and to the life of the Institute from 1957 to 1967. In 1958, Fr. Parent founded the Voluntas Dei [secular] Institute, our young brothers. Over the years, he often spoke of aspects of the spirituality common to the two Institutes he founded, namely to live in the present moment, which became one of his well-known subjects. Soon after the foundation of our Institute, an associate group was formed called the Volunteers of God.  The members of this group are committed to living the 5 attitudes of Gospel life. Then, about fifteen years ago, another group emerged called “Amicale 5-5-5” which, amongst other things, “contribute to the building of a more just and fraternal world”. Common traits among these families or groups come from St. Eugene de Mazenod. Some of the common characteristics that we find in our respective groups are: the Virgin Mary, missionary and apostolic life to the ends of the world, especially in underprivileged areas and a spirituality centred on charity.

Live the present with passion

Here is what Pope Francis said in a letter addressed to the members of consecrated life in November, 2014: “… Have the courage to be present in the midst of conflict and tension, as a credible sign of the presence of the Spirit who inspires in human hearts a passion for all to be one (cf. Jn 17:21)”.

Passion often makes us forget the real-time required to create a better world that is beautiful and real. Allow me to quote Fr. Parent who said, “If you live in the present moment, you will not regret the past, you will not be anxious for the future, you will do your best today.”

What does ‘doing your best today’ mean? It means that “… that there is no moment in your life that is more important than the present moment”. “To live in the present moment is to be attentive to those around us, to find the positive in events and to find meaning in them; it is to make the most of time and to enrich our essential values” [1], at every moment, at the level of our being and in our deeds and actions. These values, expressed in other words, are found in the Constitutions of the Oblates and of the Voluntas Dei.

To live the present with passion, is to transform the world here and now in all situations for this is something to which we are all called.


Embrace the future with hope

“Be not afraid… for I am with you” (Jer 1:8). “The hope [referred to by Pope Francis] is not based on statistics or accomplishments, but on the One in whom we have put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:2), the One for whom ‘nothing is impossible’ (Lk 1:37). This is the hope which does not disappoint; it is the hope which enables [Oblates and other groups represented here to keep writing pages of their history well into the future …]. The Holy Spirit spurs on us so that he can still do great things with us”[2].

President and former presidents

Fr. Normand Provencher spoke to us of avenues of hope for the future. It was a highly motivating talk that strongly calls us to live in hope. One thing is certain, regardless of our mission or the group to which we belong, is that we need to look to the future with hope, the hope God has placed in our hearts to transform the world. No one knows the future, even though we may have great hopes. I am referring here mostly to the Oblates. In 2010, our Institute decided to implement regionalization. We have 5 regions here on earth and a region in heaven, where Father Parent and 311 Oblates who have died during the last 65 years, are urging us not to be afraid of the future, to welcome changes with a positive outlook and to hope for the profound revitalization of our anchor points: secular consecration, charism, mission, support teams and a spirituality which includes our famous 5-5-5…

In a talk to the Italian secular institutes in 2014, Pope Francis said: “You are at the heart of the world with the heart of God”. We are called to be in the world, to transform it, but not in any way. How do we express the heart of God in our two regions of North America? Perhaps we are no longer young enough to run on open squares, but we can still be a witness of God regardless of our age. We can manifest the heart of God to our neighbour by our way of being and doing. We are called to act with the heart of God present in each and every one of us. Pope Francis invites us to go to the peripheries, to leave the place where we feel at home. At times, even though the peripheries can be very close, they can remain practically unknown to us.

A few weeks ago, Pentecost reminded us that “There is a variety of gifts, but always the same Spirit. There are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord. The activities are varied but it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.” (1 Co. 12:4-7, Mass of Pentecost) Faith in the words of Paul to the Corinthians will make us capable of giving hands and feet to hope, by a real presence at the heart of the world, with the heart of God, without forgetting the present moment.

Enjoy the rest of the day!

Denise Desrochers

July 1st, 2017

[1] PARENT, O.M.I., Louis-Marie, The Present Moment, 2000, pages 27 and 29.
[2] Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter to all consecrated people on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, November 21, 2014, # 3.