The Oblates of Mary Immaculate are celebrating 125 years of serving the Church in Australia. It is an opportunity to give thanks for the past, to acknowledge the many blessings in our Province today and to prepare for another 125 years of service in Australia. The De Mazenod Family Gathering is an opportunity to build and strengthen connections between the Oblate ministries and explore structures for a Lay Association. Please keep the De Mazenod Family Gathering (14-18th August) in your prayers and continue praying for Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious life.
The following reflection is part of this journey, a series of reflections on our history written by Fr Austin Cooper OMI.
Charles Joseph Eugene De Mazenod, who founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI, was born in 1782 in Southern France. Although his family was wealthy, they were forced to flee France during the French revolution, leaving all their possessions behind. It was 1790 and Eugene was just 8 years old.
Eugene’s father had been a politician but was forced to become a tradesman in Italy, making it difficult for Eugene to have a good education other than that provided by a Priest in Venice.
Eugene returned to France in 1802 when he was 20 and saw that the Catholic Church in his native country had suffered a great deal during the Revolution. The education he had received in Italy had included religious instruction and Eugene was drawn to the beauty of the religious life he had witnessed in Venice.
Assisted by a mystical experience, he entered a Seminary in Paris and was ordained a Priest in 1811, aged 29. Rather than work in a Parish, Eugene worked among the poor and vulnerable and in 1826 received approval from Pope Leo XII to found a new religious Order. Thus, was born the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate OMI.