A distinctive feature of our Oblate habit is our missionary crucifix. The crucifix is given to us on the day of our perpetual vows, after making vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and perseverance for life. For every Oblate his crucifix becomes a friend and companion in the ministry of evangelization. We grow deeply attached to our missionary crucifix or maybe better to say that the crucifix grows into us, Oblates. An Oblate cannot imagine himself without his crucifix. Las year when I was travelling overseas my bag went missing after a flight. I still remember the state of horror I was going at the airport when I realized that my Oblate crucifix was in the bag. I was frozen out of distress that this companion of mine could be lost forever. Thank God the bag was found a few days later and delivered to my accommodation but I learnt an important lesson: Now I always have my Oblate crucifix in my carry-on luggage.
As I mentioned before, among vows we take is the vow of poverty, for me personally the most challenging aspect of the vow is that after my death my crucifix, like in the case of all the other Oblates, will be taken from me and sent to the archives of the Provincial Office. It means that this dear companion of mine isn’t my “property”. I don’t own it. It is, as I said, my companion, my friend. The main reason of sending the crucifix to the Provincial Office is that after my death another Oblate who would be taking perpetual vows can be given the crucifix.
When I look at my crucifix now I just think how many graces it witnessed in the ministry of a saintly Oblate who didn’t have a long life but lived his life to the full as a friend of Jesus and as a friend of people he met.
May he rest in peace.
Maybe I shouldn’t write it publicly but I can reveal to you some secret. Although Fr Jozef hasn’t been declared a saint I find myself saying this: “Fr Jozef pray for me.”