FORMATION PROGRAM FOR OBLATE BROTHERS
During the plenary session of 7 September – 8 October 2013, the Central Government spent a day and a half on the theme of Oblate Brothers.
The General Chapter of 2010 passed a resolution requiring that common standards in the first formation of Oblate Brothers in the Congregation be addressed. The project was to be carried out in dialogue with the Presidents of Regional Conferences, the General Formation Committee and the Standing Committee of Oblate Brothers.
The General Norms for Oblate Formation promulgated by the Superior General on the 21st of May 2011 have responded to a large extent to this Chapter resolution.
“As members of the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Brothers are united in the same charism and are full missionaries. Within this charism, they develop a special identity at the level of being and of mission, thereby calling for a formation that is both common and particular”. (cf. General Norms for Oblate Formation, n° 395)
At its meeting in March 2012, the General Formation Committee, in the light of the General Norms, worked on a first draft of common standards for first formation of Brothers which was then sent to the Standing Committee of Oblate Brothers for their meeting in November 2012 in Rome. The Standing Committee of Oblate Brothers proposed some changes. The text was again studied during the meeting of the General Formation Committee in February 2013 in Godfrey, IL, USA. Following some further minor revisions, this text was finally approved by the Superior General in council in October 2013 in Rome. One can find this formation program on the Congregation’s web site: http://goo.gl/fyYvu8.
To help the Central Government reflect on the role of the Oblate Brother, Bro. Benoît DOSQUET (France), who served for several years as chairman of the Permanent Committee of Oblate Brothers, wrote a reflection on the vocation of the Brother in our Congregation. Here is an excerpt from his reflection:
To live as brothers, among ourselves, with those around us and more broadly, with every human being, created like us in the image of God, is the goal of those who follow Christ.
Following Christ in religious life is not in “addition” to the baptismal life and it is not a ministry (that is to say, in function of animating the community of believers...); it is pure witness, given freely for all and is being “something else amongst others.”
The identity of religious life lies in what we are in our journey of following Christ. No matter if we are many or if we are weak, the essential dimension of religious life is this communion with Christ who is the Force of life. The religious is a man marked by the currents and critical issues facing society but who allows the Christ who is in him to shine through.
Reflection on the vocation and the place of the Brothers concerns all Oblate communities, Fathers and Brothers, because it touches upon the very identity of our Institute. (Normand PROVENCHER, Documentation OMI, May 2004)
Year after year, the Committee of Brothers discovered how important it is have as a starting point the religious life of the Oblate Priest and the Oblate Brother. In the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, some are called to enter as Brothers; others feel a call to priestly ministry. However, all Oblates, priests and Brothers, have complementary responsibilities in the work of evangelization. (CC & RR No. 7)
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