Transforming a Place of Transformation
Last year, Bro. Democracy Mudenda, O.M.I. was a novice at the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. A native of Zambia, Democracy spent a year praying, studying and discerning his future as a Missionary Oblate. It was the best year of his life.
“The novitiate year changed me forever, I was able to experience the unconditional love of God every day,” says Bro. Democracy. “I grew so much in the Spirit of God, and became more deeply committed to giving my life to God as a Missionary Oblate.”
The Oblate Novitiate transformed Bro. Democracy’s life. Now, a capital campaign has
been established to transform the novitiate into a special place of faith and family. The opportunity to take part in such an important capital campaign comes about every 100 years.
The current novitiate building was constructed in the 1920s as a summer home for a St. Louis family. In 1950 it was given to the Oblates and was transformed into a place of prayer and discernment. In addition to the novitiate, the 255-acre property is also home to the Oblates Wood Nature Preserve, the La Vista Farm and the La Vista Ecological Learning Center.
With a main building that is nearly 100 years old, items such as plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems need to be replaced in order to become efficient and safe. Places for worship and study need to be renovated. Updates are also needed to individual rooms as well as community spaces including a complete overhaul of the kitchen and dining area.
Father Louis Studer, O.M.I., Provincial for the United States Province, said the improvements are needed because the number of novices has been growing steadily in recent years. No longer exclusively used by the United States Province, novices now arrive from countries that either have few vocations or are so poor that they can’t afford to have a formation program of their own. Today there are novices in Godfrey from the United States, Canada, India, Kenya, Myanmar and Zambia.
“Our Lady has guided me to the Missionary Oblates and now to the novitiate in the United States,” said Moses Khisa who is from Kenya. “I pray that she will continue to guide me to life as a Missionary Oblate priest.”
The future of the Oblate world is at the novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. And today you have the opportunity to impact that future for generations to come.
The novitiate year is when a Missionary Oblate vocation really begins to bloom. It is a time to get away and experience community life. In order for the novitiate year to be as beneficial as possible, the novices need a proper place to live, study and discern their religious calling.
To enhance the novitiate experience, the campus is undergoing an extensive renovation. A total of $2.5 million needs to be raised to make the new novitiate a reality. Below are areas of need which are available for sponsorship.
These areas will facilitate a deepening of faith and spiritual life for the novices.
- Sacristy ($75,000)
- Spiritual direction rooms (3 available at $30,000 each)
These spaces allow for gathering as a community for recreation, meals and conversations.
- Dining room ($100,000)
- Recreation room ($100,000)
- Kitchen ($100,000)
- Meditation walkway ($40,000)
These rooms provide a quiet place to study, sleep and to be alone with God.
- Novice rooms (8 available at $30,000 each)
- Formator rooms (3 available at $35,000 each)
In these classrooms and learning centers, the novices will dive more deeply into their theological studies and training.
- Theological learning center ($150,000)
- Ecological learning center ($100,000)
- Classroom ($50,000)
- Multi-purpose room ($30,000)
*Amounts listed are for sponsorships with naming rights and do not reflect actual cost of renovation.
In 2008 I lived at the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. The house wasn’t great, but the home was amazing.
The novitiate house consisted of floors that creaked, plumbing that leaked and doors that squeaked. And living conditions have not improved in the 12 years since I lived there.
But the novitiate home was one of the happiest places I ever resided.That’s because I got to live and learn so much from my brother novices, four of whom became Oblate priests.
Two of my brother novices are now ministering in our new mission in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. Father Jesse Esqueda, O.M.I and Fr. Lucio Castillo, O.M.I. are providing for the spiritual and physical needs of people in some of the poorest neighborhoods. My two other novitiate brothers, Fr. Mathews Zulu, O.M.I. and Fr. Felix Nyambe, O.M.I. minister in impoverished parts of Zambia. Father Mathews recently emailed me that drought conditions have been so severe at his mission that starvation is now a concern for the poorest of the poor.
At the novitiate, we truly learned how to become missionaries. Today, I ask that you consider supporting our capital campaign, so that the novitiate will be a treasured house and home for generations of Oblate novices to come.
In Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Fr. David P. Uribe, O.M.I.
Did you know that if you are age 70½ or older you can make a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) to the Missionary Oblates that is advantageous for both you and the Oblates?
A QCD is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA that can be made in support of Oblate ministries. When you send QCD funds directly to the Oblates, it may count towards satisfying your required minimum distributions (RMD) for the year.
Additionally, if you do not itemize your charitable deductions on your federal tax return, you can still receive a federal tax benefit with a QCD because it does not count as taxable income (unlike regular withdrawals from a pre-tax IRA). When you keep your taxable income lower you may also reduce your taxes on your Social Security and Medicare income as well.
Please refer to the SECURE Act passed on December 20, 2019 or contact your IRA administrator to advise you if your QCD will satisfy your RMD.
To learn more about how you can take advantage of a QCD, check with your IRA administrator, or contact the Office of Charitable and Planned Giving at 1-800-233-6264 or email@example.com
Legal Title: Oblate Missionary Society, Inc.
Tax ID: 26-0634043
Most teenagers don’t want to hear advice from mom and dad. Mateusz Brzezinski is sure glad he listened to his parents.
Mateusz grew up in St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish in Mississauga, Canada. His family was active in the large Polish parish and young Mateusz was involved in several parish programs. In 2016 a group of youth from the parish decided to go to Poland for World Youth Day. But Mateusz didn’t want to go, preferring to spend the summer at home with his friends. That’s when mom and dad stepped in.
“They pretty much forced me to go to World Youth Day, I didn’t really have a choice,” said Mateusz. “And I’m so glad they did.” At World Youth Day, Mateusz had “a moment,” a realization that he might be called to religious life. When he returned home he had a burning desire to examine a vocation to the priesthood. He contacted the Missionary Oblates, who staff St. Maximillian Kolbe Parish, and began the discernment process.
Just a few months after World Youth Day, the Oblates sent Mateusz to a “Come and See” held at the Oblates pre-novitiate in Buffalo, New York. It was a chance for Mateusz to experience the day-to-day life of a pre-novice.
“It was a weekend full of prayer and great discernment, and I felt that my vocation became more concretely solidified,” said Mateusz. “I knew I wanted to answer God’s call and live a life for God in the Oblate community.”
The Oblates in Canada decided Mateusz was uniquely qualified to take part in one of the Oblates’ most acclaimed formation programs in the world, at Holy Cross Monastery in Poland. The sanctuary is the oldest in Poland dating back to the 11th century. Mateusz, who speaks fluent Polish, discerned his calling at Holy Cross for one year.
After his year in Poland, Mateusz was next assigned to another foreign country, the United States. In 2019 he joined the novitiate community at the Oblate Novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. Today he is part of a community of young novices from the United States, Zambia, Kenya and India.
Mateusz is scheduled to make First Vows this summer and then will begin his formal studies for the priesthood. He will be on the road again, but may take some time to return home to thank his mom and dad for their push which started his Oblate journey.
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.
Virginia & John Skocz
Richard Harold Stork