Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - Newsroom

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Saint Eugene De Mazenod was born in 1782 in Aix in southern France to wealthy parents of the nobility.  With his parents’ wealth and social status, he was destined to live an affluent and comfortable life.  But young Eugene was forced to flee France with his family in 1789 when his father opposed the French Revolution. 

Eugene returned to Aix at the age of 20, determined to live life to the fullest to make up for lost time.  But by the age of 25 he realized he had accomplished nothing truly important with the life he had created.200th _quote

Eugene was gifted with an energetic and determined character filled with noble intentions.  With this spirit, he felt compelled to play a part in meeting the urgent needs of the Church.

In 1807 his conversion process came to fulfillment on Good Friday when he had a profound experience of God’s love for him.  This experience led him to commit himself to Christ and the Church.  Soon after he entered the diocesan seminary, and in 1811 he was ordained to the priesthood.

As a young priest Eugene realized that his mission was to minister with the poor in the most deprived areas of France.  But this task was beyond his capabilities if he acted alone; he needed help.

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And so on January 25, 1816 the Society of the Missionaries of Provence (now known as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) was born.  Today – 200 years after their founding – the Oblates continue the mission that St. Eugene began.

Oblates throughout the world gathered together on January 25 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of their founding.  Superior General Fr. Louis Lougen, O.M.I. advised the Oblates to celebrate in a simple yet meaningful way.  He wrote, “… the 25th of January should be commemorated in a solemn manner.  Surely on this day Oblates and Associates will come together for the Eucharist.  We should spend time in oraison thanking and praising God for the gift of our vocation and the charism.  We should also connect with the poor in a way that is significant and coherent with our lives.”
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Here in the United States, there will be numerous celebrations of the 200th anniversary.

“From January 5-14, Fr. Frank Santucci led a pilgrimage of Oblates and friends to Aix-en-Provence, the birthplace of the Oblates,” explained Fr. Art Flores, O.M.I. Provincial Councilor for the Southwest Area.  Father Santucci is the Professor of Oblate Studies at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
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“The major event will be our Oblate Convocation, which will be in Belleville, Illinois from April 18-22,” explained Fr. Art.  “The Convocation is a gathering of the Oblates from throughout the United States Province.”

On January 24, Mass and evening prayer at the Oblate School of Theology and the Oblate Grotto focused on the 200th anniversary.  “The evening prayer focused on various aspects of the Oblate charism, and took place in different areas of the Oblate Grotto and Oblate School of Theology,” said Fr. Art.  “There was a festive reception after the prayer service.”

200th _inset2“January 25 was the actual feast day of the 200th anniversary of the congregation,” said Fr. Art.  “On this day, the Oblates of the Southwest area gathered for evening prayer and a festive dinner.”

On January 26 Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, Archbishop of San Antonio, celebrated Mass at Immaculate Conception Chapel at the Oblate School of Theology.  “The entire Oblate School of Theology community joined with the students, faculty and staff of Assumption Seminary of San Antonio for the Mass,” said Fr. Art.  “Joining Archbishop Gustavo were the bishops of the dioceses where Oblates currently minister.  The Mayor of San Antonio also joined the celebrations on that day.”

The Oblates in the Midwest celebrated the anniversary in other ways.  Father Jim Brobst, O.M.I. Provincial Councilor for the Midwest Area explained, “Oblates, Oblate Associates and employees joined together for Sunday evening Vespers at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows on January 24 with a simple reception afterward.  Then on January 25 we had a day of reflection for local Oblates at King’s House Retreat Center.”

Four other Oblate communities – those on the West Coast, Alaska, Oakland and Los Angeles, California and Tijuana, Mexico – gathered together for more celebrations on January 25.  “We gathered for prayer, reflection and fellowship,” said Fr. Steve Conserva, O.M.I. Provincial Councilor for the Pacific Area.  “We also developed displays of Oblate history and missions in the various places of ministry.”

As the Oblates celebrate the 200th anniversary of their founding throughout the year 2016, they invite their friends, benefactors and parishioners to join them in prayer and celebration.