Oblate Voices is a JPIC blog that follows stories of hope and is about how Oblates and associates live and experience mission work in the spirit of the Oblate founder, St Eugene De Mazenod of responding to the needs of poor and most abandoned around the world.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Engagement and Transformation

On Friday, April 28th, 2017 JPIC-OMI Lacombe was very pleased to participate in the Eugène de Mazenod Medal award ceremony at the University Saint Paul, as their nominee Mr. John Joe Gunn was the honoree of the day.

As Br. Leonardo Rego, director of JPIC OMI Lacombe, mentioned in his speech:

“When the opportunity to nominate someone for the Eugene de Mazenod Medal award reached me, I was very inspired by the Oblates’ two hundredth anniversary, which brings innovative changes and movements towards a new future and a new mission that are very much in sync not only with this award, but Joe’s work and Saint Paul University’s vision and mission. The Oblates’ new heart in connection with the conversion, the new spirit in connection with the prophetic voices and the new mission relating it to our future can be easily related to Joe’s work, his commitment to social justice within and outside the Catholic institution, always with great faith and firm conviction that a better world is possible.”

The medal bears the name of the founder of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and recognizes the spirit of St. Eugène de Mazenod in addressing the social issues of his time. The Eugène de Mazenod Medal honours individuals who have made a significant contribution to the development of their community, in their environment, in the church and in society as a whole.
In a very friendly and casual environment, the mixture between formal, common to such events, and casual took place. Although the awarding followed all procedures and decorum, the familiarity between all the ones present there, as well as their familiarity to Joe made the event a brilliant success with the feeling of family gathering.
Moreover, the event and speeches brought about friendly discussions on engagement, next steps towards change, as well as a reflection on our own role in the fight for justice. It brought us to re-think our engagement with progress and our commitment to change and development, postulates for the mission carried by JPIC and its areas of work.
(L to R) Mr. Joe Gunn, Suzanne (wife), Benjamin Gunn (son)
Joe came with his wife Suzanne and son Benjamin (his daughter Daniela could not be present, but was surely connected in mind and spirit). Everyone shared their part in the celebration, friends and partners shared stories and impressions about him and laughter was guaranteed.
Between jokes and audience interaction, the event brought about friends to celebrate another friend and his amazing work so far, as well as his renewed thrive to continue his engagement with transformation for a better world.
As always, we could count on Fr. Ken Forster to give his support and blessings. Although he could not be present at the event, he graced us all with his connection through video (link below).

Referred as a myth, Joe’s work is extraordinary, yet his humility makes him human and drives us all to achieve greatness through his example on fighting for justice, peace, integrity of creation and development.
His speech was not limited to thanking his wife, family and friends, but rather he presented us with an inspiring and engaging speech, a call to justice in difficult times, giving examples and calling us all to join a coalition for the greater good, take on the opportunity to build a future towards change and fight poverty.

(L to R) Leonardo Rego O.M.I., Mr. John Joe Gunn (honoree), Mme. Chantal Beauvais, Eugene King O.M.I. and Richard Beaudette O.M.I.

“None of us is anyone without everyone else, so let’s take this opportunity to form a coalition for the greater good in the collaboration and union of all here present today, expressing a preferential option for the poor.”
Joe Gunn
I believe we can all say that this was not only an event for appreciation and honoring but also for engagement, inspiration and thrive. A call for commitment, an eye opener to all of us, not only to inspire but also to make us all reflect on our own actions. What are we doing to make the world better? What are the risks we are taking? What are our conclusions and new pledges with the seed planted by Joe in our minds and hearts?