June 2023 Issue
From the Provincial, Fr. Louis Studer, OMI
In January, the Missionary Oblates opened a new Oblate Retreat Center in the Diocese of Livingstone, Zambia. I was in Zambia at the time and was given the honor of celebrating the first Mass at the center. The Mass was held on the Feast of the Epiphany, the day we celebrate the three Wise Men bringing gifts to the Baby Jesus.
Joining me on the visit to Zambia were two other members of our provincial leadership team: Fr. Art Flores, OMI, and Fr. Jim Chambers, OMI. We are definitely not kings. And I’m pretty sure we have never been referred to as the three Wise Men. But like every member of the Oblate family, we do bring gifts — our talents and passion to be of service to our less fortunate brothers and sisters.
Presiding at that first liturgy I was joined by 25 other Oblates. As I sat there, I had a small epiphany — we are all wise. We may not all be book smart, but we all have wisdom through our life experiences and through the expression of our faith.
Bishop Valentine Kalumba, OMI, was at the Mass. He is often referred to as My Lord or Your Excellency, titles he doesn’t like. He prefers to be a humble servant of the people in his diocese. Somehow, he has the wisdom to live on just a few hundred dollars a month.
Brother Wilbroad Kapembwa, OMI, has wisdom well beyond his age. I accepted his temporary vows while in Zambia. Five years earlier, I had accepted his First Vows when he was a novice in the United States. At First Vows I asked Bro. Wilbroad why he chose to join the Oblates. He said the Oblates are never phony, and that they are “sincere missionaries with an unflinching zeal to preach the Good News to the poor with their many faces.”
Please know that you too bring many gifts to Jesus Christ through your support of the Missionary Oblates. Our ministries in Zambia simply do not exist without our benefactors and co-missionaries. You are a wise person, and may God bless you for sharing your wisdom with us and the people we serve.