Oblate Anglo Irish Province Congress

Fr. Chicho Rois OMI is a member of the Oblate Leadership team in Rome and is the General Councillor for Europe. He was invited to the Congress as a listener and the following is a summary of his reflection which he entitled, "Listening by Heart.”

Fr Chicho began by thanking everybody present for the gift of their presence and participation during the Congress. He repeated the view held by many "We need more time” and "to take our time to really understand this "grace event”. He was keen to restate that something we need to do when working on our priorities is, "to look at what happens from the other angle, from the other perspective.” Not an easy task but one that will ensure lasting, strong and equal partnerships.

Fr Chicho urged delegates, "Please, take your time, personally and in conversation with your local community”. "Everybody is invited to be engaged in a conversation to build up relationship and to grow in faith and life” so that we deepen our faith experience and grow in our human and Christian experience. All such conversations need to be as inclusive as possible and thus will inevitably face difficulties and possible conflict. Recognising that one of the challenges we face in our local communities is of creating, increasing and expanding relationships, Fr Chicho invited us to engage in listening with our hearts. "Because listening by heart and being inclusive is a way to discover God’s presence in our midst and yes, we have to include God in our conversation.”

We are all on the same journey and share the same mission. We just need to know and agree the direction we are following – together. For, it is true that despite all the wonderful planning, programmes and preparation that might be developed to implement change, the most important experience of change has to be the change itself.

"Vatican II Council gives us the image of the Church as the People of God marching.” The challenge is walking together, respecting different rhythms and views but most importantly, being together. Fr Chicho shared an inspirational text from the Professed Oblate constitutions and rules, "Growing in faith, hope and love, we commit ourselves to be a leaven of the Beatitudes at the heart of the world” C. 11.

He suggested that walking together to seed the Beatitudes in the heart of the world is the way forward of Living Mission Together.

St. Eugene de Mazenod said we are co-workers with Jesus in his Mission, bringing the Joy of the Gospel to the poor. Fr Chicho continued "The image of the Cross made by shaking hands speaks to me about the partnership in the Mission. We have to shake hands in equality and complementarity to embrace the cross of Jesus and embrace all the crucified of our days.

In other words we have to help each other to hold true to the Oblate charism and mission. And so our partnership has to be about developing a deep and loving relationship among us and with the poor. The poor are at the heart of the spirituality and experience of St Eugene.

Fr Chicho quoted Pope Francis as an inspiration for us. "I would like a poor Church and for the poor”. Lately, the Pope has added to this statement: "Not only FOR the poor but WITH the poor.”

We are challenged to allow ourselves to be evangelised by the poor, to journey with them and to learn from them. It would without doubt change our attitudes and actions if we put the poor at the centre of all the priorities of the Anglo Irish Oblate family. But, that is what we are called to do as sharers in the Oblate charism if we sincerely want to change today’s unjust society.

Integrity of creation is a challenge but not forgetting the Justice and Peace issues, Fr Chicho linked "take care of the creation, "a phrase used often during the Congress with our priority to the poor adding "how much we have to learn from nature itself and from the indigenous people and from our own traditional cultures."

In conclusion, Fr Chicho invited us to look at this image of the Trinity: The Father, the Son and Spirit taking care of wounded humanity. Pope Francis uses the image of the Church as a Field Hospital because our mission is to take care of wounded people. Not only has Pope Francis shown us that change is possible but he has demonstrated the way forward.

Finishing with words of encouragement Fr Chicho concluded, "It is possible to incarnate the Gospel! It is possible to be a sign of the loving God for the humanity! The contemplation of this image of the Trinity can give us the strength and inspiration we need to become a sacrament of God’s love for the poor; to grow in communion in our communities, deepening our relationships, walking together and being partners in the Trinity Mission, working for and with the Poor and walking in faith, hope and love."

- Mary Tyrrell