Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 17, 2003
Oblate helps people experience God
Fr. Mark Blom travels the West teaching the faith to youngsters
By RENATO GANDIA
"Lord, if you want me to be a priest, I'll give it my best shot. I'll give it a good, honest try."
- Fr. Mark Blom
But he was also struggling with the idea of getting married and raising a family. At the same time there was also a new desire to do something for the Church.
"They were both attractive to me," said Blom, who belongs to St. Mary's Oblate Province.
After a long time of anguish, praying, sleepless nights and sweating bullets, he decided to look at this more seriously.
He went to the Benedictine monastery in Muenster, Sask., for a discernment retreat during which he said in his prayer, "Lord, if you want me to be a priest, I'll give it my best shot. I'll give it a good, honest try."
He saw enough pieces of the puzzle he was trying to solve. And the picture, though not totally clear, suggested the priesthood. There were no signs that seemed to suggest it was a bad idea. But there were a lot of signs saying it might be a good thing.
The first call was to the priesthood. And the second level was a call to belong to an order.
"I want to help people arrive at an experience of God that is relevant. And I feel that I have a relevant experience of God and I want to help other people to have the same."
The more he read about the Oblates, the more he thought, "This really seems to match my own character, my own gifts."
"It just seemed so natural. It just seemed a good fit that I did not really look anywhere else," stressed Blom.
In September 1992, he became an Oblate postulant followed by four years of study at Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C. for his bachelor's degree in philosophy.
He then attended Newman College for two years after which he was sent to Rome to finish his theological studies.
He made his perpetual profession as an Oblate in 1998 and was ordained a priest on April 11, 2002.
As a seminarian, the image of a priest he had was shaped by stories of missionaries, particularly those who have worked in the Northwest Territories.
It was like a combination of an outdoor adventurer and a scholar, he said.
"What I really saw . . . then was someone who is particularly bringing the sacraments to people, celebrating the Mass."
"Now, my key image of missionary priesthood is someone who brings people into communion with the Word, the Gospel."
He likes to see how the Gospel actually reads, interprets and speaks about contemporary life.
Presently he is a team member of Oblates in Edmonton and does youth ministry mainly in the Edmonton Catholic School district. The team also works in other western dioceses.
He considers the "goodbyes" and moving on he does regularly as the "acute hardship of missionary life."
On the lighter side, he misses not being able to plant a garden every year because he moves from place to place.
"Now that I've faced what the challenges are and the kind of rewards this ministry deals with, I want to do this as long as there are people who want to know about God."
For him the most important part of his rootedness is the practice of contemplative prayer, he calls, "intentional, silent practice of attention towards God."
"Within that silence, there is a kind of refined consciousness that emerges that I'm with God and God is with me . . . that eliminates anxiety."
In his spare time he loves studying, and reading books of poetry, mythology and other world religions.
He also loves art and uses it to make his props for his talks.
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