The Oblates of Mary Immaculate are a missionary order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. The congregation was formed in the early XIXth century by St Eugene De Mazenod near Marseilles in South-East France. The order have had an aspiration in supporting the less fortunate in our community since its creation. The Oblates received Papal approval in 1826 and has flourished around the globe being present in Europe, America, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Eugene de Mazenod was born in southern France in 1782. Being a nobleman he experienced the upheavals of the French Revolution and the sufferings of eleven years of exile in Italy, including the separation of his parents. At the age of 20 he returned to France and gradually became aware of the pitiful state of the Church and the high degree of religious ignorance among the poor. He responded by becoming a priest, specially dedicated to the poor. His early years of priesthood focused on those who were the last touched by the ministry of Church: the youth, prisoner, domestic workers, and the inhabitants of the small villages of Provence.
In 1816 others joined him in his ministry, concentrating particularly on the preaching of parish mission in the rural villages.
in 1826 this group of priests and brothers was given the name of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. During his lifetime he sent missionaries to various parts of Europe, England, Ireland, Canada, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Today they are in every continent.
Appointed Bishop of Marseilles in 1837 he worked indefatigably to bring the members of his diocese to Christ the Saviour, while at the same time continuing to direct the missionary zeal of his Oblate sons.
He died on 21 May 1861, and was declared a Saint on 3 December 1995.
Eugene’s personal experience of Christ the Saviour’s love and forgiving mercy led him to dedicate his life to those who were the most abandoned: to teach them who the Saviour is and to lead them to the fullness of God’s mercy and love. He invited others to live by his own inspiration: “Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference”.
Moved by his inspiration, some 4,000 Oblate priests and brothers, together with many lay associates enthused by the same vision, today continue Eugene’s mission in the Church: “Whoever wishes to become one of us must have an ardent desire for his own perfection, and be enflamed with love for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church, and a burning zeal for the salvation of souls”.