The Gala!

May 14th, 2017 by frjohn

Entry by Daniel Conigliaro…On May 6, the Oblates of the Virgin Mary celebrated the 200th anniversary of our founding in 1816 with a special Gala.  Every year, we sponsor a scholarship dinner at St. Clement’s to raise money for the formation program at Our Lady of Grace Seminary.  Instead of the normal dinner, we decided to go all out and celebrate this momentous occasion properly with a Gala at the Seaport Hotel in downtown Boston.  Friends and benefactors from all over the country (and even some from outside the U.S.) came to celebrate our founding and to support the community.  We increased our attendance to just over 300 participants this year, a 50% increase over last year’s dinner.

The Gala was above all a celebration of our founder, Venerable Pio Bruno Lanteri.  Fr. Lanteri was inspired in his time to offer people an opportunity to reflect deeply on the mysteries of the faith and to lead people closer to Christ through the sacraments.  In 1816, he founded the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in the diocese of Turin, Italy, and wrote our rule of life.  The Oblates had a difficult first few years; they eventually disbanded after a dispute with the local bishop over the direction of the order, and Fr. Lanteri continued his priestly ministry in the diocese.  He later decided to become a Jesuit, but during his novitiate retreat he felt the Lord calling him to return to northern Italy and re-establish the Oblates.  In 1826, the revived Oblate community received papal recognition, officially becoming a religious congregation in the Church.  For 200 years, the spirit of Fr. Lanteri has continued to inspire the Oblates’ service to the church and the world.  It was this spirit of prayer and service that we celebrated this year.

The highlight of the evening was hearing the testimonies of three Oblate priests as they shared their experiences in ministry and reflected on the Oblate charism.  Fr. Peter Grover, rector of St. Clement’s Shrine, shared stories of his many experiences as a hospital chaplain and parish priest.    Fr. Shawn Monahan, our novice master, described the formation process and how each young man who comes to the Oblates grows in self-knowledge, comes to accept himself for who God created him to be, and eventually can offer himself as a gift to the church and the world.  Fr. Algie Quintana, who was ordained a priest in the Philippines in December 2016, gave a moving testimony of the power of God’s love in his life and how He heals the broken-hearted.  All three talks were inspiring and reflected a diversity of experiences and the beauty of the Oblate charism at work in the world today.

We still kept many of the same traditions of our scholarship dinner, including the silent and live auctions.  This year, we had over fifty silent auctions items, generously donated by friends of the community.  These included beer and wine packages, tickets to Red Sox games and local museums, and even a hand-made corn hole set with the Oblate crest on it!  Elaine Kwiecien generously donated twelve beautiful themed baskets, one of which included a baseball signed by Big Papi (if you’re not from Boston, he was a pretty important player for the Red Sox).  As for the live auction, our premier items included a weeklong trip to Nice, France, and a signed Tom Brady jersey with club tickets to the home opener game in August.  Both auctions were a huge success and raised a lot of money for the seminary.

For me as a seminarian, it was so inspiring to see and meet many of the people who have supported, and continue to support, our mission of service to the church and the world.  Each person at the Gala had been personally touched by the witness of an Oblate priest or brother in their lives.  The spirit of our founder, Fr. Lanteri, is truly alive and at work in his community today.  Thank you to everyone who made the Gala such a huge success!  With your support, we are able to carry Fr. Lanteri’s spirit into the 21st century.

Venerable Lanteri, pray for us!


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