Oblate Highlights: Superior General Fr. Louis Lougen, OMI
As Superior General of the Missionary Oblates, Fr. Louis Lougen, OMI said God has written an important part of his job description: “The Spirit at work among us will do infinitely more than we can hope for or imagine.” (Eph. 3:20)
Father Lougen is relying on the Spirit, and his brother Oblates, to enrich the Oblate congregation as a global family of effective missionaries. In October 2016, Fr. Lougen was re-elected to a second six-year term as the Oblates’ Superior General. “I firmly believe we have an important mission in the Church,” said Fr. Lougen. “Our simplicity, our availability, our approachability brings us so close to the people.”
Father Lougen was born in Buffalo, New York in 1952 and met the Oblates while in high school. He was ordained in 1979 and spent nearly 17 years as a missionary in Brazil, where he lived and worked among the country’s poorest people. In the United States he worked in formation and as pastor at Holy Angels Parish in Buffalo before becoming the Provincial of the United States Province.
During the first six years of his tenure as Superior General, Fr. Lougen visited many of the provinces, delegations and missions of the Oblates. He came into his position able to speak English, Portuguese and Spanish. He is now able to also converse in Italian and French.
When asked about the future of the Oblates, Fr. Lougen said that as long as there are poor people in the world, there will be work for the Oblates. He said it is the responsibility of each Oblate to reveal God’s compassionate face to the poor.
“We have many good works in the congregation, but we cannot rest or be comfortable, said Fr. Lougen. “We have to look for the people who need our help, and get out there with the Good News to them.”
After his re-election Fr. Lougen and the other Oblates who had gathered in Rome took part in an audience with Pope Francis. The following are highlights of a letter written by Pope Francis congratulating the Oblates on their past accomplishments, and encouraging them to remain faithful to their missionary vocation.
“You are needed”
It is with particular joy that I welcome you, who represent a missionary religious Family dedicated to evangelization in the Church. I greet you all with affection beginning with the newly-elected Superior General and his Council. You are here for the General Chapter, in the year in which you celebrate the bicentennial of your foundation through the work of St. Eugene De Mazenod, a young priest eager to respond to the call of the Spirit.
Your missionary history is the history of many consecrated person, who offered and sacrificed their lives for the mission, for the poor, to reach distant lands whose people were still ‘without a pastor.’ Today, every land is a ‘missionary land,’ every human dimension is a missionary land, which awaits the proclamation of the Gospel. Pope Pius XI defined you ‘specialists in difficult missions.’ The scope of the mission today seems to expand every day, embracing ever new poor people – men and women with the face of Christ who plead for help, consolation, and hope in the most desperate situations of life. Therefore, you are needed; your missionary daring and your availability to bring to all the Good News, which frees and consoles.
May the joy of the Gospel shine above all on your faces and make you joyful witnesses. Following the example of the Founder, may ‘among yourselves practice charity’ be your first rule of life and the premise of every apostolic action; and may ‘zeal for the salvation of souls’ be the natural consequence of your fraternal charity.
As your religious Family enters its third century of life, may the Lord allow you to write new and evangelically fruitful pages, like those of your brothers who throughout these 200 years have testified – at times with blood – to a great love of Christ and the Church. You are Oblates of Mary Immaculate. May this name, defined by St. Eugene as ‘a passport to heaven,’ be for you a constant commitment to the mission. May Our Lady sustain your steps, especially in moments of trial. I ask you, please, to pray to her also for me. May my Blessing, which I wholeheartedly impart upon you and your entire Congregation, accompany your path.
Original story by Mike Viola at Missionary Associates of Mary Immaculate.