Superior General Visits the United States

The first United States visit by Father Luis Ignacio Rois Alonso, OMI, since his election as Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate coincided with the start of the Lenten season.

Father Luis, known affectionately as Fr. Chicho, was elected in September 2022 to the position that oversees the 3,500 Oblates serving in 70 countries around the world. His trip to the United States centered around events at Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto and Tepeyac de San Antonio, Texas.

Father Chicho spent time with the Borzaga Formation Community, led the first Ash Wednesday service and delivered the Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies 2024 Public Lecture.

At each stop, Fr. Chicho talked about the joy he felt as a missionary of hope. For example, at the 7 a.m. Ash Wednesday service, he told the faithful in attendance there are two main reasons the Lenten season is a time for joy.

“The first is a feeling of joy in the God of mercy,” he said. “The second is because we are called to fulfill the will of God, and the will of God is for us to become His sons, His daughters. That is a reason for joy.”

Missionary of Hope

Father Chicho is a native of Madrid, Spain. He professed his First Vows as a Missionary Oblate on September 19, 1982, and received his priestly ordination on May 21, 1988.

From there, he has served as the vocation director for the Province of Spain; the Superior of the Scholasticate in Pozuelo de Alarcón, Spain; the provincial of the Province of Spain; the General Councilor for Europe; and in the Western Sahara Mission of the Mediterranean Province.

His six-year term as the 14th Superior General providing the spiritual direction for the more than 3,500 Missionary Oblates around the world began with his election on September 29, 2022.

Since then, Fr. Chicho has been visiting Missionary Oblates around the world. His first year-and-a-half as Superior General has seen him travel from Lesotho to Canada, Ukraine to Bangladesh.

When he was elected, he said he saw his job as that of a missionary of hope.

“We have to become friends ourselves and then live the Gospel as good missionaries for the poor, and in commune together,” he said.

Visiting Oblate Brothers

Father Chicho’s visit included time with the Borzaga Formation Community, which includes the formation team and seminarians who study at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio. Mario Borzaga was an Italian Oblate and one of six Oblates killed in Laos during the country’s civil war and Communist takeover. He and 16 others were beatified in December 2016.

During the group’s weekly time of reflection, Fr. Chicho stepped forward to speak to the community. He told them it is the responsibility of each member of the Community to bring the charism of the Missionary Oblates to life.

Fr. Chicho’s final words to the seminarians were to challenge them to live the Gospel every single day and to bring God’s Word to the poor and abandoned around the world.

‘I Need You’

Father Chicho then delivered the 2024 Public Lecture for the Kusenberger Chair of Oblate Studies speaking about the charism of the Missionary Oblates. That charism, he said, is a gift of the Holy Spirit, both to St. Eugene de Mazenod 200 years ago as well to all Missionary Oblates today, both clergy and laity.

“The entire Oblate community is responsible for protecting and spreading the charism of the Missionary Oblates which,” he said, “is to take God’s Word to the poor and abandoned around the globe.”“I need you,” Fr. Chicho said. “The mission of the Superior General is to keep alive the charism. Do you think I can do this alone from Rome? I don’t. You can do this, not me.”