The word OBLATE has the
same origins as "oblation". It means a person
whose life, by special dedication, is offered in service to the
In 1816, the Church in France,
suffering the effects of the French Revolution was in need of
revival. Responding to this need, Fr. Eugene de Mazenod called
together a group of priests whose main purpose would be to
preach the Gospel to the poor working people of southern France.
Other priests, drawn by the work of these men, soon joined the
group and in 1826 they received papal approval as a Religious
Congregation under the patronage of Mary Immaculate.
Fr. de Mazenod eventually became the Bishop of Marseilles. At
his death in 1861, 400 Oblates were working in Europe, Asia,
Africa and America. Today, over 4,000 Oblate Priests and
Brothers work in 68 countries, on every continent.
There are four priorities which
capture the Missionary Oblate vision:
We are committed to carrying the
gospel to others, with special preference for the poor and those
on the margins of society.
We recognize that the roles and
responsibilities of lay people in the Church are significant,
encouraging the leadership of the laity in our efforts.
We work for justice and peace,
striving to address the economic, political and social
structures which affect the lives of our sisters and brothers
We commit ourselves to programs
which foster our own renewal as Missionaries in today's world,
forming communities which give life and sustenance to one
We are men of mission, prayer and
community, seeking to get close to people, to experience their
hurts and dreams, their fears and joys.
Pope Pius XI referred to the
Oblates as "Specialists in difficult missions."
When he founded the Missionary
Oblates in 1816, Eugene de Mazenod saw the Oblates' main purpose
to be the preaching of the Gospel to the poor working people in
southern France. When news of the success of his Oblates' church
missions spread, requests for their services began pouring in.
Although the Oblates worked mostly in France, they began
traveling to nearby Switzerland in 1831 to hold similar
The focus of the Oblates' work
changed in 1841 when Bishop Bourget of Montreal invited the
Oblates to serve the spiritual needs of those living in eastern
Canada. The Canadian missions proved to be very successful, and
soon Oblates were also serving in small Canadian villages in the
central and western areas of the country.
A year after their arrival in
Canada, the Oblates were already preaching missions to Canadian
immigrants in Northern New York State and Vermont. As early as
the spring of 1843, they had begun to preach missions in English
as well as French. Such was their success that at least 20 U.S.
establishments were offered to them prior to the Founders' death
in 1861. The requests came from as far a field as Kentucky,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. For various
reasons Bishop de Mazenod declined all but five of them:
The demand for foreign
missionaries continued to grow, and by 1847, Oblates were
working in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) preaching, working with the
youth, and encouraging native vocations. At the same time, they
also began working as missionaries in several parts of the U.S.
While many of their brother
Oblates in France devoted themselves to preaching, ministering
to Marian shrines and seminaries, and working with youth, the
foreign missionaries took on another form of evangelization.
Often, these men performed pioneer work necessary for the
establishment of the Church. But all Oblates throughout the
world were recognized as the religious congregation that would
accept much-needed work that other religious or laypersons could
not or would not take on.
By 1861, the year of de Mazenods'
death, Oblates were also working in Algeria, South Africa,
Ireland, England, Corsica, Mexico, and Scotland. During the next
60 years, their ministry continued to spread in Europe and
In 1929, the Missionary Oblates
began their ministry in South America in Uruguay. They opened
missions in Zaire, Laos, and Argentina. In 1939, the Oblates
began to work in the Philippines, where they opened the Notre
Dame schools and helped build community churches. Over the next
30 years, the Oblates opened missions in more than a dozen
additional countries, including Haiti, Brazil, Cameroon, Japan,
Chad, and Peru.
In the 1960s, the Missionary
Oblates were asked to send priests to serve the needs of the
Catholic minority in Denmark and Greenland. Soon, Oblates could
also be found working in parishes in Sweden and Norway.
The Oblate ministry has continued
to grow, especially in the Far East. Currently, Oblates are
serving in Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Pakistan,
Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Senegal. More recently, with the fall
of communism, former Soviet countries, such as Byelorussia and
Ukraine, have attracted new Oblate missions. In 1998, by
invitation of the Vatican, the Oblates of the United States and
Poland have taken on the task of re-building the Church in
Turkmenistan, we have established the first permanent Catholic
presence there since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Throughout their history, the
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate followed Eugene de
Mazenods' vision, taking on many varied and challenging
ministries. Called the "Specialists in difficult
missions" by Pope Pius XI in 1938, the Oblates continue to
dedicate their lives to serving the poor in many countries of
God our Father, we thank you for having called St. Eugene de
Mazenod to follow Christ the Savior and Evangelizer.
Passionately in love with your Son Jesus and sharing his
compassion for humanity Eugene put himself at the service of
your church for the evangelization of those most in need.
Through his intercession help us to
reach out with the healing touch of Christ who calls us to
holiness and to Mission. May we build communities which are
signs of your presence, and share the Good News of salvation
with all. For this we dedicate ourselves, through Christ our
St. Eugene, Share with us your
love for Christ.
St. Eugene, Help us to stand firm in goodness.
St. Eugene, Be with us in all our efforts.