World Day of Prayer for Vocations, May 14, 2017
As a start, what is a secular institute?
It is an institute of consecrated life for men or women. Its members can either live where they were born or wherever they have been led in life, in different milieus because of their professions or their own life situations.
The secular institutes were recognized by the Church in 1947. As they are barely 70 years old, they can be considered as “young” in the Church.
Their specific mission is one entrusted to them by the Church. They exercise a responsible presence and a transforming action within the realities they encounter, to make them more just and more humane.
Their profession takes first place in their active involvement, then also, depending on each person, their social involvements, their political or associative activities, their participation in the neighbourhood or parish life, etc. … and when they reach a certain age: life after retirement!
The members gather periodically to support one another, to share lived experiences and fraternal life and to pray together.
The Oblate Missionaries of Mary Immaculate was founded in 1952 by Father Louis-Marie Parent, OMI. They number approximately 400, most of whom are in North America but also in Latin America, Africa and Europe.
They exercise all sorts of professions: teachers, nursing assistants, secretaries, hotel employees, pharmacists, notaries, nurses, salespersons etc.
In certain countries, there are astonishing professions. For example:
In Kerala, an Indian woman is head of an Institute of technology for women masons. They earn their living by making clay bricks and houses.
In Rodrigues, a Mauritian woman is in charge of an agricultural centre for the rehabilitation of young people.
What is specific about the Oblates?
When the founder, Louis-Marie Parent, saw how difficult it was for people, namely Christians, to live simple attitudes that make life more pleasant and more fraternal, he invited us to cultivate basic attitudes for all Christians! Here is what he said: “If the Oblate thinks of God, avoids criticism and complaint, is of service to others and spreads peace, her voice, her mouth, her heart and her conscience will be instruments of charity and her whole life will be one of prayer”.
This seems elementary…but it can never be taken for granted!