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 Eugene 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.
The Oblates arrived in Western Australia in 1894, taking charge of Fremantle Parish and a reform school. The Oblates moved from the West Coast to the East cost thirty two years later to Sorrento, which became a launching pad for a virtual explosion of missionary activity. Through parish missions and retreats the Oblates became known throughout Australia.