A New Day Dawns at the Oblates’ Novitiate
For more than 70 years, Missionary Oblates have considered their novitiate in Godfrey, llinois a “place set apart.” Now that place is here to stay for generations of Oblates to come thanks to a complete renovation.
In recent years the Oblates had to look at the possibility of closing the novitiate and moving to another location. The nearly 100-year-old building, which the Oblates acquired in 1950, had not been significantly updated for about 60 years.
“Each time the discussion came up about what to do with the novitiate, the decision was made to keep it in Godfrey,” said Fr. Louis Studer, O.M.I. Provincial of the U.S. Province. The overwhelming majority of Oblates preferred to keep the novitiate at its present location because it is a ‘place set apart’ that affords wonderful opportunities for prayer and vocational discernment in an area of beautiful surroundings.”
The novitiate has always had one beautiful surrounding — a breathtaking view of the Mississippi River. But over the past few decades it was hard to find any other beautiful surroundings. The building had been deteriorating, and patchwork repairs could no longer keep the building as an adequate home for the novices and the novitiate staff.
A fundraising campaign was started which allowed for renovations of the building to begin in 2020. Last year’s novices moved into temporary arrangements at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows Jasmine Engineering was hired as the contractor for the renovation. Despite complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, workers were able to bring the renovations to completion on time and on budget. The novices and staff are expected to be in their new home by the end of September with a formal dedication of the building taking place in October.
In addition to serving as the Oblates’ novitiate, the property is also home to the Oblate Ecological Initiative which educates Oblates and others in ecological awareness. The initiative also includes the La Vista Community Supported Garden and a wildlife preserve on more than 200 acres. As part of the renovations, an eco-lab was created at the novitiate to help novices to reach a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving the integrity of creation.
Father Studer said word about the improved novitiate has been spreading not only in North America but also around the world. In upcoming years, it is likely that about a dozen novices will be at the novitiate annually, representing countries from around the world.
“Provincials from several English-speaking countries have already contacted me, inquiring about the possibility of sending novices to the U.S. for their novitiate year,” said Fr. Studer. “Each of these units is blessed with many vocations and the Provincials recognize the value of the program we are able to offer during this key year of Oblate formation at Godfrey.”
One of the biggest expenses for the Missionary Oblates every year is the education and formation of our novices. Expenses can run about $50,000 annually per novice depending
on how many men are in the program.
Adding to the cost is that the novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois is now truly an international novitiate, with candidates coming from around the world. Invitations were made this year
to the Oblates in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zambia and Cameroon to send their novices to Godfrey.
“These young men come from some of the poorest countries in the world and the Oblates there don’t have the funds to cover their expenses for their novitiate year,” said Fr. Louis Studer, O.M.I. Provincial of the United States Province. “So the U.S. Province has to assume all of the formation costs, room and board. This is our gift to the international Oblate community, one that we can only provide because of the support of our generous benefactors.”
In addition to the ongoing support needed to keep the novitiate flourishing, the Oblates are still in need of some funds to cover the final expenses for the novitiate renovation. About $233,690 is needed to cover the last remaining expenses.
This is a wonderful time to make a gift to complete the funding of the novitiate. A matching-gift program is in place so that for every $1 donated at this time, an additional $1 is matched, thus doubling the impact of your gift.
Our Oblate novices are truly at the beginning of their Oblate journey. They are the future of the Church and ask for your prayers as they continue on their journey to become missionaries to the world.
Five men with very different backgrounds have started their novitiate year with the Missionary Oblates.
Novice Pablo Henning-Manrique is from the United States Province. Born in Venezuela, Pablo has been living in Texas since 2001 and is a graduate of Rice University.
Last year Pablo was a member of the pre-novitiate community located at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. He said the increased isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has helped him prepare for the novitiate year, a time to detach from much of the world in
order to focus on discerning if God is calling him to religious life.
Joining Pablo at the novitiate are Etienne Kabemba Lukusa of Canada and three men from the Oblates’ Delegation of Zambia: Mukobola Sipho, Mulenga Chileshe and Miyambo Kapesa Royd.
Kevin Miller to Lead Team
For Kevin Miller, being named the Oblates’ new Director of Charitable and Planned Giving is like coming home.
After helping to raise more than $200 million for organizations around the country, Kevin said he is excited about the challenge of raising funds to support the good works of the Oblates both in the United States and around the world.
Kevin was born and raised in Belleville, Illinois, home of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. He and his family spent many times at the Shrine attending Mass, eating at the restaurant and visiting family at the retirement community.
Prior to joining the Oblate family, Kevin was the Chief Development Officer for three and half years with Great Rivers Greenway Foundation, an organization that raised philanthropic support to enhance bike and walking trails throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.
Kevin also worked for more than nine years in fundraising for Shriners Hospitals for Children. At first Kevin was the Director of Development at the St. Louis hospital and then for seven years he was the Senior Director of Planned and Major Giving for the central United States, an area that covers 16 states and seven hospitals.
Kevin also worked for nearly 20 years in fundraising for higher education, at the University of Indianapolis and the University of Maryland.
Kevin and his wife, Diana, live in Kirkwood, Missouri and their daughter, Elizabeth, is currently in college.
I was recently looking through a scrapbook when I came across an interview I did before entering the Oblate Novitiate. In the article I said, “I am looking forward to my novitiate year so that I can determine what God has in store for me.”
At the end of my novitiate year, I knew God wanted me to become a missionary priest. The year I spent at our novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois was the most transformative year of my life.
In August I was blessed to take part in the Rite of Reception for our new novices. During the celebration I said a prayer for each one of them, that they too will discover what God has in store for them.
One thing I can guarantee is a more favorable place to pray and discern their religious calling. When I was a novice, we were pretty much in survival mode. The building was old and falling apart.
Our current novices don’t have to survive their novitiate year, they can thrive. A steady supply of heat and air conditioning, enhanced spaces for prayer and having their own bathroom may not be luxury items, but they will allow our novices to concentrate more fully on discerning their future to religious life.
Thank you for your giving heart. Know that the novices and I are honored to remember your needs at Mass and in our prayers. And may you be blessed with whatever God has in store for you.
In Jesus Christ and Mary Immaculate,
Fr. David P. Uribe, O.M.I.
Oblate Chaplain Director
A Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) can be a win-win opportunity for both you and the Missionary Oblates.
If you are age 70½ or older, you can transfer funds from your IRA to the Oblates through a QCD. This transfer can count towards satisfying your required minimum distribution 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 withdraws 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.
For the Oblates the transferred funds can be used for a variety of important ministries, including the education and living expenses of the novices living at the Immaculate Heart
of Mary Novitiate.
To learn more aboutt how you can take advantage of a QCD, check with your IRA administrator or contact Diane Green at 1-800-233-6264 or email@example.com.
Legal Title: Oblate Missionary Society, Inc.
Tax ID: 26-0634043
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.
John E. Johnson
John B. Keefe
Raymond J. Murphy
Anna May Neff
Henry Sweeney, Jr.
Blanche Rita Tolan