Lost Oblate Cross Finds Its Way Home
When a man becomes a Missionary Oblate priest or brother, he is given an Oblate Cross to carry throughout his ministry. Occasionally an Oblate Cross is lost during these missionary endeavors. Here Fr. Andy Sensenig, O.M.I., Pastor at St. Gregory Nazianzen in Sitka, Alaska writes about a lost Oblate Cross that he recently discovered.
Mission Friendship Club members receive a replica of an Oblate Cross when they commit to partnering with the Oblates through prayer and financial sacrifices. Father Andy thanks you for being a co-missionary with the Oblates, and asks that you pray for the Oblates who carry their crosses to some of the most difficult places in the world.
I was recently searching on the Internet for a book on our founder, St. Eugene De Mazenod. Instead of finding that book, I found something more interesting and disconcerting.
What I found was an Oblate Cross someone no longer wanted. These crosses are the ones in which a Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate receives after making his perpetual vows of Chasity, Poverty, Obedience and Perseverance for life. When the Oblate receives this cross, he keeps it in his possession until he dies and then it is returned to the Oblate community until another man comes and takes it up as an Oblate.
My Oblate Cross’ previous owner is Fr. Maurice Laliberte, O.M.I. He served the Oblates as a priest and a provincial. I knew him when I first joined the Oblates. Father Maurice was a man with a gentle and joyous spirit, which would put everyone at ease in a heartbeat. I am honored to have his cross.
Over time I learned to not only wear the cross or place it in a place of devotion in a chapel or keep it close over my bed, but to pray with the cross in my hands before the Blessed Sacrament. Doing this simple practice of praying has enriched my life and deepened my devotion to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate immensely.
Now back to the Oblate Cross I found on the Internet. The owner was in the Province of Quebec Canada, where in the past the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate thrived. Now, the vocations there and the men themselves are greatly diminished. I was successful in acquiring the Oblate Cross, but was unable to find out anything about its past life.
The cross arrived in the mail and as I opened it I could see that it had taken years of wear and tear. As I looked at this Oblate Cross I spoke to it, “Welcome home, my brother.”
I pray with this Oblate Cross in my hands before the Blessed Sacrament for two intentions. First, I pray for the soul of the Oblate I do not know, who had this cross before me. Also, I pray for an increase in vocations for Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Our Oblate heritage needs to be remembered and we need to pray for our future. Please pray with me that the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate will thrive as we make our prayers to Jesus Christ, who said at the Last Supper: “Do this in memory of Me.”