Creating Living and Effective Ministries
One of Fr. Ray Cook’s favorite Bible passages is Hebrews 4:12: “The Word of God is living and effective.” Father Ray is using this passage for inspiration as he begins serving as the new Provincial of the Missionary Oblates in the United States.
“I feel this is such an important message because it speaks of the Bible as a living, breathing thing,” said Fr. Ray. “We must always remember that the Word of God is active right now in our everyday lives.”
While his Catholic faith has aways been a “living and breathing thing” for Fr. Ray, it was not always his focal point. He had a late calling, becoming an Oblate priest at age 44.
Father Ray’s life experiences involved working in regional theater. He also spent 15 years as an Instructor and Course Developer for technology corporations including a time traveling the country as a Microsoft Authorized Instructor.
It was during this time of travel that he happened to visit the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. He felt at home at the shrine and began considering religious life. He eventually joined the Oblates’ formation program in 2003 and was ordained in 2012.
“It was a slow process for me, it took years to decide on religious life,” said Fr. Ray. “I never had a big conversion moment, it came gradually.”
After a few years of working as a member of the staff at King’s House Retreat and Renewal Center, Fr. Ray became the Director of the Newman Center and the Chaplain and Administrator of St. Mary’s Chapel at Rice University in Houston. He served there until last year when he began teaching courses at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio.
At Rice University he provided pastoral and administration work for a community of over 600 students, faculty and community members. Helping young people discover new aspects of their faith has been a primary focus of Fr. Ray’s Oblate life. One of these young people is Pablo Henning Manrique, who was a biomedical engineering student at Rice. While recovering from major hip surgery, Pablo began attending daily Mass with Fr. Ray and the call to religious life began to enter his heart.
Pablo said Fr. Ray became like an uncle to him and eventually his spiritual director. They met often to discuss religious life and Pablo entered the Oblate’s formation program in 2019.
Today, Bro. Pablo Henning, OMI, is a scholastic at Oblate School of Theology. If all goes as planned, he will accept his first assignment as an Oblate priest from his friend, mentor and Provincial Fr. Ray Cook.
And together, they will continue to fulfill a common mission, to make “the Word of God living and effective.”
A Message From Fr. Louis Studer, OMI
Six years ago, when I was named the Provincial for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the United States, I told myself two words: “I surrender.”
My surrender was not because I was giving up. Yes, I did have anxiety and concerns about leading the U.S. Province. I was 68 years old at the time and was
expecting my next assignment would involve a slower pace.
Instead of a surrender based on giving up, my surrender was one of letting go. It was a surrender to God and to St. Eugene de Mazenod, the founder of the
Throughout Scripture, we are reminded repeatedly about the benefits of surrendering to God: “Surrender all your anxiety to Him, because He cares for
you.” (1 Peter 5:7).
Countless times over the past six years I reminded myself that I needed to surrender to God’s plan. Surrender became the spiritual theme of my time as
Provincial. I needed to discover and accept God’s plans, not my plans. For the Missionary Oblates, one of the most significant days in our history was
the Good Friday experience of St. Eugene. During intense prayer before the crucifix, St. Eugene surrendered to God’s plan, and it gave him an entire new direction and purpose to his life. He continued to surrender again and again his entire life, inspiring others to follow him and do the same.
I traveled extensively as Provincial and got to see firsthand the many Oblates who are surrendering their lives in service to the poor and abandoned. They surrendered basic comforts to live and work among the poorest of the poor in places like Zambia, Turkmenistan, and Tijuana, Mexico. They surrendered their
time to minister to people facing spiritual crisis at parishes, shrines, and retreat houses throughout the United States.
As Provincial, I was also amazed at the number of times our co-missionaries and benefactors surrendered parts of their lives to join us in our work. They
surrendered their time, talents, and financial sacrifice to be our partners in these life-changing ministries.
As Fr. Ray takes over as Provincial, I am filled with hope for the future of our province. Father Ray is a man of deep faith, personal integrity, and a strong sense of mission. I have no doubt that he will lead our band of missionaries to a bright future. Because Fr. Ray knows that our success depends on following two words: “I surrender”.
As a student at Oblate School of Theology, Bro. Pablo Henning Manrique, OMI, is part of the Blessed Mario Borzaga Formation Community. From Houston himself, he lives and studies with other Oblate seminarians from around the world who come to OST because formation training is limited in their native countries. Today, Bro. Pablo is part of a seminarian community at OST that includes students from Zambia, Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Congo, and Mexico.
Most of the foreign Oblate seminarians come from impoverished missions where the Oblates have limited financial resources. While the Oblates in these countries do their best to stretch every dollar, they simply do not have enough funds to cover all of the seminarian’s expenses. During the five years that a seminarian is a student at OST, the cost for education and living expenses is $175,000.
To fill this financial gap, the Oblates established the Borzaga Scholarship Program at OST. Your gift to the scholarship program allows these young men to receive a worldclass education in order for them to become missionaries around the world.
To learn more about the Borzaga Scholarship Fund, contact your gift advisor or the Office of Charitable and Planned Giving at 1-800-233-6264, oblategiving.org.
Coming to the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows transformed my life. And for our new Provincial, Fr. Ray Cook, OMI, coming to the Shrine also transformed his life.
My first assignment after ordination was as Pilgrimage Director at the Shrine. Later, I became the Shrine Director. Countless times I have been told by pilgrims how important the Shrine is to their lives, and how they have reached a deeper understanding of their faith because of this unique place.
When I read how a visit to the Shrine sparked an interest in Fr. Ray to consider religious life, I wasn’t surprised. He told me that the Shrine visit was like “coming home.” And through the Shrine, he found a home with the Missionary Oblates.
Like Fr. Ray, I hope you feel like you have found a home with the Missionary Oblates. During a recent v isit with Fr. Ray, he reminded me several times to make sure that friends and benefactors like you know that he considers you to be a vital co-missionary to the future of the Oblates in the United States and our mission fields.
Everyday Fr. Ray and I remember you in our daily prayers. I ask that you say a prayer for Fr. Ray today as he begins his journey as leader of our life-changing ministries.
Still Time to Make an Impact
Your end-of-year donation will allow the Missionary Oblates to continue to bring healing and hope to poor and abandoned people in 70 countries. Your gift makes you a co-missionary with the Oblates in these vital ministries.
HERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS TO GIVE:
- Outright cash gifts are the easiest to give. You may donate by check, credit card, or a monthly pledge payment.
- Donation through your IRA. For taxpayers 70½ and older, federal law requires annual distributions from IRAs to be included in the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxed.
The IRA Charitable Rollover allows taxpayers to directly transfer up to $100,000 to the Missionary Oblates without paying taxes on the distribution. You can also fund a Charitable Gift Annuity with your IRA that provides you with a variety of tax advantages.
- Donate back your Oblate Annuity Trust distributions. Donate your Oblate Annuity Trust payments back to the Missionary Oblates.
- Donate stock. If you hold long-term (purchased more than one year ago) publicly traded securities, you may be able to benefit the Oblates while avoiding capital gains tax and obtaining a potential federal charitable tax deduction (if you itemize on the fully appreciated value of your stock).
- Create a Donor-Advised Fund (DAF). DAFs are a simple, flexible, and tax-advantaged way you can make charitable donations. You can designate a DAF grant via your trustee’s website (such as Fidelity or Schwab Charitable).
Join Our Facebook Group
On a Mission with the Missionary Oblates is a group formed to bring together individuals who support the work of the Missionary Oblates around the world.
Advisors with the Charitable and Planned Giving Department provide regular updates to members about various Oblate missions and how to best support these vital ministries. Several recent posts about the work of the Oblates in Ukraine have given valuable insight into this extraordinary mission during this time of war.
Father David P. Uribe, OMI, Oblate Chaplain Director at the Missionary Association, also posts updates from his trips to Oblate ministries, including a trip earlier this year to Lourdes, France, where he prayed for our benefactors.
It is simple to join the Charitable and Planned Giving Facebook Group
#1 Click on Groups
#2 Search for “On a Mission with the Missionary Oblates”
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Rest in Eternal Peace…
The Missionary Oblates are grateful to our friends who have remembered us through a bequest or charitable gift annuity. Please join us in prayer for these benefactors who have been called to their eternal rest with the Lord.
Cecilia M. Goldthwaite
Marie A. Grannan
Laverne & George Lamb
Mary Ann Larter
Araceli V. Magpantay
Mary P. Milton
Melvin & Mary Schwartz
Ronald L. Smith
Mary Ann Wolfe