Born into a noble family in Aix (Provence), Eugene spent part of his childhood in Italy because of the French Revolution. Ordained a priest at Amiens in 1811, he soon organized missionaries to go to rural parts of Provence, instructing the people whose religious training had been disrupted for many years by the French Revolution and its aftermath.
Eugene began the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1816, obtaining papal approval for them 10 years later. From rural preaching, they soon moved into running seminaries to improve the quality of the clergy. Their first foreign mission was in Canada in 1841; soon they were in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America.
In 1851, Eugene followed his uncle as archbishop of Marseille; Eugene died in that city 10 years later. He had focused his energies on Church renewal and reform while vigorously defending the Church’s right to spread the Good News.
His congregation has grown to serve the Church in over 60 countries. Many of its members have become missionary bishops.
At Eugene’s canonization in 1995, Pope John Paul II praised his vision, perseverance and conformity to God’s will.
Reflection for the Feast of St. Eugene by Geri Furmanek, National Director of Mission Enrichment and Oblate Associates
“We must lead people to act like human beings, first or all, and then like Christians and, finally, we must help them to become saints.” –Fr. Eugene de Mazenod, 1825, Preface of the O.M.I. Rule
Interiorly, Bishop de Mazenod was filled with zeal; in his later years he encouraged, inspired, corrected and supported people. His confidence in God was without limits… To the very end, he maintained an intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin… When Bishop de Mazenod died, May 21, 1861, he gave the impression of being a man in full possession of his faculties, conscious of having fulfilled the mission that the Lord had entrusted to him and eager to carry out God’s holy will until the end. To his doctor, he said: “Oh! How I would like to die fully conscious in order to wholeheartedly accept the will of God!” And to the people surrounding him, he said: “If I happen to fall asleep or my condition gets worse, please wake me up; I want to die knowing that I am dying.” To the Oblates, he left this legacy, a legacy which captured his life in a nutshell: “Among yourselves practice charity, charity, charity – and outside, zeal for the salvation of souls.” (Dictionary of Oblate Values, Mazenod by Fr. Fernand Jetté)
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