Oblate Mission With Youth
by Fr. Jarek Pachocki OMI
US-Canada Regional Oblate Vocation and Youth Ministry Committee Member
“Know who you are in the eyes of God”
St. Eugene de Mazenod
There has been a significant progress in past few years in how the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate look at their ministry with our young people. One of the recent initiatives was the Oblate Youth Forum which was organized and hosted by the US Province Committee for Mission with Youth. This forum was held at the Oblate Renewal Center in San Antonio, TX on November 7-10, 2017. Fr. Jarek represented the OMI Lacombe Canada Province.
On the first day of the gathering both presenters focused on the principles of the Youth Ministry in today’s reality with very practical implications.
Dr. Alex GOTAY Jr. from Houston, TX is a teen and young adult speaker, retreat leader, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blackbelt and full-time parish Pastoral Associate. He emphasized the importance of engagement in youth ministry, getting know where the youth are coming from and meeting them where they are.
Mike PATIN from Lafayette, LA has worked in ministry settings since 1984, first as a high school teacher and coach, and then in diocesan ministry for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Since 2003, he has worked full time as a speaker and “faith horticulturist.” He reminded youth leaders that everyone we meet: loves, has lost, is struggling, is searching and has a story. In the current culture relationships are quite often “a mile wide” but only “an inch deep”. That’s why Pope Francis calls for the “culture of encounter”. This principle applies also to the ministry with young people. He spoke also about engaging parents/families into the ministry and also about personal spiritual health of youth ministers.
On the second day of the forum participants looked at the Mission With Youth from the Oblate perspective.
Fr. Jesse ESQUEDA OMI is an Oblate whose dream was to serve the poorest of the poor. He is realizing that dream in the La Morita section of the city of Tijuana, Mexico, just south of the United States border. Fr. Jesse served as a youth minister in an Oblate parish in California before joining the Congregation. He presented the outcomes of the Oblate General Chapter reflections re Mission With Youth. He also shared from his own experience the value of hospitality, relationships and leadership in this ministry.
The second presenter of the day was Fr. Frank SANTUCCI OMI well known for his animation ministry with St. Eugene spirituality and charism. He is currently a spiritual director and teaching various spirituality and theological courses at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. First of all he reminded youth leaders about key points of the Oblate Spirituality: Jesus Christ as Savior, The Church as the Body of Christ, Sharing the Good News, the most abandoned and Apostolic community. He also summed up a common OMI vision for Mission With Youth as
• Jesus Christ is the center of our life and mission
• hearing the call to conversion as St. Eugene heard it
• bringing the message as St. Eugene did (Aix-en-Provence Youth Congregation)
• St. Eugene’s “Pedagogy”: Human, Christian, Saints
• Mission WITH Youth
Three Goals of Oblate Ministry with Young People
• In becoming Human we seek to foster the psychological, intellectual, physical and spiritual growth of each young person; helping them to recognize their dignity and the dignity of others.
• In becoming Christians we seek to draw young people to responsible participation in the life, mission, and work of the Catholic faith community.
• In becoming Saints we seek to empower young people to live as disciples of Jesus Christ in the Oblate charism, fully human and fully alive, in our world today
The quote from Pope Frances was a perfect sendoff summarizing the forum: “To “go out” into the world of young people requires a willingness to spend time with them, to listen to the story of their lives and to be attentive to their joys, hopes, sadness and anxieties”.