The Oblate pioneers of our Province, having established their base in Western Australia in 1894 with the parish of Fremantle and the school in Glendalough, set out preaching missions as well, to places like the Kalgoorlie gold fields and the remote Aboriginal communities of the Kimberley. Fremantle was not just a thriving parish, but a mission headquarters for the earliest Oblate ventures.
Thirty two years later, the Oblates moved east to the little seaside town of Sorrento, on Port Phillip Bay, 90 km south of Melbourne This became the launching pad for a virtual explosion of missionary activity over the next 50 years.This only became possible because the Oblate spirit, shared with the people in our parishes and through our mission preaching, inspired the sons of Australian families to become Oblates themselves.: It also moved the families affiliated with the Oblates to work to generously support our growth, both spiritually and materially.
Those first Australian Oblates had to study overseas, and so it was a major achievement for the Province to establish its first minor seminary at Geelong in 1950 and a major seminary in 1963 at St Mary's, Mulgrave. That same story of faith and belief in the potential for a home Province inspired the Australian Oblates to establish a seminary in Java in 1982, for our Indonesian Oblates.
From the beginning, education was always part of the Australian Oblate Mission, especially with disadvantaged youth and this was the most urgent need of the Australian Church in the 1950's and 1960's. In responding to this need, the Oblates established three Boys' Colleges, Iona in Brisbane and Mazenod Colleges in both Perth and Melbourne.
In the new millennium, when so many of our youth have become estranged from their faith, there has been a critical need to train strong young Catholic lay apostles to reach out to the increasing numbers of young people who are homeless, jobless, and treated as society's discards. The ROSIES Oblate Youth Mission, begun in 1975 in embryonic form, has blossomed into a full time mission in Queensland and Victoria, where the needs of abandoned youth and young adults who feel a call to serve, are met by creating a community among both, inspired by the Oblate spirit of daring.
Oblates also serve hospitals, prisons, homeless centres, houses of justice and spirituality and universities as chaplains This brings us into close contact with people at various stages in their journey of life.
The Oblates have parishes in Western Australia (Fremantle, Lesmurdie, Pickering Brook-Karragullen), in South Australia (Tea Tree Gully and Dernancourt), in Victoria, (Springvale North, Sorrento, Moe), in New South Wales, (Sefton and Eagle Vale) and in Queensland (Burpengary). Previously, we have worked in North Melbourne, Sunshine and Rosebud (Victoria), Kalinga and Eagle Junction (Queensland), Massey and Hibiscus Coast (N.Z.) and Beaconsfield and Kalamunda (WA).
The Oblates are a Missionary Congregation and their Missionary Spirit challenges them to work within the Church to bring the Gospel to our Australian secular society and also to help the growth of the Church in lands beyond our shores. In 1971 the Australian Province began work in Java and this Mission continues today as the Indonesian Province. Our Mission to China is a Delegation of the Australian Oblate Province while Australian Oblates also work in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The Oblate Rule recognises that Oblates always work very close to their people. The Australian Province has been a very clear sign of this. Whether in schools, parishes, special works or youth outreach, the Oblates feel a very special sense of belonging to their people and it is reciprocated.