VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic missionary orders like the Oblates of Mary Immaculate have as much work to do as ever, Pope Francis said.
“Today, every land is a ‘mission land,’ every dimension of human life is mission territory awaiting the proclamation of the Gospel,” the pope said Oct. 7 during a meeting with delegates to the general congregation of the Oblates.
The delegates were led by Father Louis Lougen, a native of Buffalo, New York, whom they had re-elected superior general Oct. 1. After 17 years in Brazil, Father Lougen returned to the United States as a pastor and novice master, and he was named provincial in 2005. He was elected superior general of the order in 2010 for his first six-year term.
Pope Francis told the Oblates that the number of those needing to hear the good news of God’s love, mercy and offer of salvation is expanding, embracing the “new poor, men and women with Christ’s face who ask for help, consolation and hope in the most desperate life situations.”
Noting the coincidence of the Year of Mercy and the Oblates’ celebration of the 200th anniversary of their founding by St. Eugene de Mazenod, the pope told the missionaries, “May mercy always be the heart of your mission, of your evangelizing commitment in the world today.”
Sharing their founder’s love for the church, Oblates must join the effort to ensure it is increasingly an “open house. It is important to work for a church that is for all, ready to welcome and accompany” everyone, Pope Francis said.
To reach out to the “new poor” and “to bring them with you to encounter Christ the redeemer,” he told the missionaries, “it is necessary to seek appropriate, evangelical and courageous responses to the questions of the men and women of our time. To do this, one must look to the past with gratitude, live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope without letting yourself be discouraged by the difficulties you encounter in your mission.”