From January 3 to 6, 2012 most of the members and candidates of the U.S. Province met at the Oblate Renewal Center (entrance pictured) in San Antonio, Texas, for a session on ongoing formation. The primary focus of the meeting was to address concretely the issue of increasing multiculturalism and interculturalism, in the seminary, in the province, and in the Church.
After an introduction by the Provincial, Father Thomas R. ULSHAFER, S.S., two outside experts were invited to address the confreres. The first, Father Aniedi OKURE, O.P., (pictured below at left) spoke on the implications of multiculturalism and its impact on priestly formation.
The second presenter, Professor Hilda HERNANDEZ-GRANVILLE, addressed the topic of teaching methods in an intercultural context. After the input from these experts, much of the three days was taken up with small group meetings and plenary discussions. The goal was to produce some practical advice for members, especially those engaged directly in initial priestly formation.
A third part of the gathering was devoted to ongoing education in the area of sexual abuse and maintaining professional boundaries in the context of ministry. Such educational sessions are held in the U.S. province regularly, in fulfillment of a Vatican-approved mandate from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men to require regular updating on such issues.
The planning team for the meeting was the Provincial Council, with the assistance of the new personnel director, Father Richard M. GULA,S.S. and his committee. The Superior General, Father Ronald D. WITHERUP, p.s.s., also participated in the meeting. The theme of multiculturalism is one that emerged strongly in the last Provincial Assembly (2009) and whose impact is greatly felt in the U.S. Church, which has become increasingly Hispanic and multicultural. In addition, the U.S. Province itself has become more and more diverse, with candidates now coming from Vietnam, Zambia, Mexico, the Philippines, Colombia, and Argentina.
The gathering also provided the Provincial leadership to present a new document they promulgated, titled Ongoing Formation for Sulpicians. This document is the product of a long and detailed consultation process in the Province. It also addresses a major topic on the Generalate level, which emerged in the General Assembly of 2008. This new document will be discussed by the General Council and the Provincials at their meeting in Rome in April, 2012 to see what use might be made of it for ongoing Sulpician formation in all the provinces.
The U.S. Province of Sulpicians has been doing priestly formation in the Archdiocese of San Antonio since 1996, both at Assumption Seminary (the archdiocesan seminary) and at Oblate School of Theology. Although the Oblates of Mary Immaculate are not directly related to the Sulpicians, their founder, (pictured at the right)
Saint Eugene de MAZENOD, always admired the French school of spirituality and particularly the spirituality of Father Jean-Jacques OLIER, founder of the Sulpicians. The Oblates have retained some of this Sulpician influence, and the U.S. Province, in particular, has good relations with the Oblates in the U.S. and in Zambia. Currently, on two Sulpicians are ministering in Texas: Father James S. TUCKER, S.S., at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, and Father James P. OBERLE, S.S., at Holy Trinity Seminary near Dallas.
Following are some pictures from the Convocation.