This week's reflection is written by
V. Rev. Lewis S. Fiorelli, OSFS, Provincial.
For two weeks, I attended the 20th General Chapter of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales held in Annecy, France, where St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal founded the Order of the Visitation Order of Holy Mary and from which stems their precious legacy to today’s world: Salesian Spirituality.
During the General Chapter, Oblates from around the world prayed together, got to know one another better, and worked collaboratively on a new edition of the Constitutions which, upon further editing, will be submitted to the Holy See for approval. The thirty-five delegates also chose the 12th Superior General of the Congregation, Father Barry Strong of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province. His election is a great honor for our Province. Three General Councilors were also elected. They come from Benin in Western Africa, Europe, and India. The new Superior General will choose a fourth Councilor. All were elected for a six-year term. Their installation took place during the celebration of the Eucharist in the Basilica in which the saintly Patrons of the Congregation lie and to which is attached the Mother Monastery of the Visitation Order. Please keep our new leaders in your prayers.
Complementing the internal work on the Oblate Constitutions and the election of leadership, was a study of three challenges facing our Church and world today: violence in our world and against the environment; interculturality among ourselves and within society; and areas relating to today’s youth: faith, ministry,and vocations.
A document that calls attention to these three challenges and provides recommendations regarding concrete ways of addressing them, in keeping with our Salesian charism, will be soon be sent out to all the apostolic units of the Congregation.
It is always a joy to find myself in the midst of fellow Oblates from all across the globe. We speak different languages, often look different from one another, and at times dress differently, but those differences never divide us. Indeed, we celebrate the deeper union that exists within those differences. In his celebrated Treatise on the Love of God, St. Francis de Sales invented a word to speak of the deepest unity of a creation that is expressed in an incredible variety. That word is, “unidiverse.” The unity in the midst of diversity that he found in creation he wanted to see celebrated in the world and promoted by the Church. When we Oblates come together to pray and play and work together, we are that “unidiverse!”