Our Founder, St. Eugene De Mazenod
Saint Eugene De Mazenod was born into an aristocratic French family at Aix-en-Provence in 1782. The French Revolution forced his family into exile when Eugene was eight years old, and he spent his youth shuttling among a variety of cities in Italy.
At age 20 Eugene was able to return to Aix where he gave himself over to the pleasures of this world. But in 1807 he had a profound religious experience during the Good Friday liturgy and committed himself to Christ and the Church. Soon he entered the diocesan seminary to become a priest. He was ordained in 1811.
As a young priest Eugene was appalled by the condition of the Church in southern France. The poor and those who lived in rural areas were, by and large, neglected.
Feeling called to do something about this situation, Eugene gathered around him a small group of idealistic young priests and began to preach directly to the poor. Eventually this small band became the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Even after he became the Bishop of Marseilles, France in 1832, Eugene continued to watch over the growth of his beloved Oblates. By the time of his death on May 21, 1861 the congregation he founded had grown to 415 priests and brothers in seven countries.
On December 3, 1995 Pope John Paul II formally declared Eugene De Mazenod a saint.
Today there are about 4,000 Missionary Oblate priests and brothers living out St. Eugene’s call to serve the poorest of the poor in more than 60 countries around the world.