The Oblates of Mary Immaculate
The Oblates of Mary Immaculate (O.M.I.) were founded as a Religious Congregation in 1816 by the vigorous 34-year-old Father Eugene de Mazenod.
He came from the stock of French nobility, but offered his life to God as a priest, and as the leader of a small band of priests who set about restoring the damages done to the faith of the French peasants by the bloody and anti-Christian French Revolution.
In his own lifetime his Oblates (i.e. men who offer themselves to God through Mary Immaculate) had grown to a 4500-strong Religious Congregation in the Church, and were missionaries in many countries of Europe, throughout Africa and with the new settlers in the Americas. The Oblates came to Australia in 1894, just 34 years after their founder, who became Bishop de Mazenod of Marseilles in France, had died. He was declared Blessed by Pope Paul VI and, in a wonderful celebration on December 3rd, 1995, at which this College was represented, he was declared a SAINT for the whole Church – and a mentor, guide and protector of youth – by Pope John Paul II.
The Oblate Feasts
On this day in 1826 the Oblates became a Religious Congregation in the Church when Pope Leo XII officially recognised them. On that occasion he declared that the Oblates were “the specialists at the most difficult missions” on account of the zeal they had already shown to carry out their programme and motto:
“He sent me to bring the Good News to the poor”
On this day in 1854, the ageing Bishop Eugene saw the culmination of the work of a committee to which the Pope had appointed him to examine the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Mother (i.e. that Mary was conceived free from Original Sin). He was present in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to hear the Pope pronounce that this doctrine was a Dogma to be believed in Faith by the Catholic Church. It was a second cause for the deepest joy to the weary Bishop de Mazenod: it was under that very title that he consecrated his Congregation of priests and brothers to the Church some 38 years before.
21st May – Feast of St. Eugene de Mazenod
Eugene de Mazenod was born in France on August 1, 1782. In 1811 he was ordained a priest. Named Bishop of Marseilles in 1837, he fully realized the Episcopal motto which he had chosen: “He sent me to preach the Gospel to the poor”. As he lay dying on May 21, 1861, he said to the Oblates about him: “Practise amongst yourselves charity, charity, charity and zeal for the salvation of souls”. Many favours have been attributed to his intercession. The Holy See has now declared that the Feast Day of St. Eugene de Mazenod is to be celebrated on 21st May each year.