200th Years of Proclaiming the Gospel Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate January 25th, 1816 - 2016
Saint Eugene de Mazenod began his ministry by reaching out to the poor, the workers, the youth, the sick and the imprisoned of Aix. Overwhelmed by the demands and possibilities of this ministry, he soon realized that he needed to gather a group of zealous priests to work with him. The goal: to awaken “a faith that had all but died in the hearts of so many”. In September 1815, he experienced another “impulse from without” that set him firmly on the path of apostolic action. He gave himself body and soul to the realization of his plans to establish a society of missionaries. On January 25, 1816, the society of the Missionaries of Provence was born. Father de Mazenod invited his companions “to live together as brothers” and “to imitate the virtues and examples of our Savior Jesus Christ, above all through the preaching of the Word of God to the poor”. He urged them to commit themselves unreservedly to the work of the missions, binding themselves by religious vows. Because of their small number, they initially limited their zeal to the neighboring countryside. Their fondest wish, however, was “to embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth”, as the founder had written in 1818. Pope Leo XII on February 17, 1826 formally approved the newly founded Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Its motto: “He has sent me to evangelize the poor” expressed both its charism and way of life. Today there are 3,800 Oblates, priests and bothers, working on all the continents and proclaiming the Good News to the all the people especially those most abandoned in our midst. The first Oblates arrived in Lowell in 1867 to serve the French community and since then they have been ministering in different capacity to people of New England. Let us pray for the many Oblates, who over the years dedicated their lives in preaching the Gospel of Jesus, and let us pray for more vocations to the Oblate Congregation so that the mission of evangelizing may continue in our midst and in the world.