We are missionaries. We began 200 years ago, on January 25, 1816, when Father Eugene de Mazenod and four companions came together to preach missions in Provencal, in the rural countryside of southern France.
We are nearly 4,000 Oblates in all – young men, old men, Oblates in formation, priests, Brothers! Of this total, more than 600 are in formation, having already made their first commitment. For the highest number in formation, the prize goes to Africa, with 259 young men in training.
We are on six continents. The branch planted in Aix-en-Provence thrived well: Oblates serve the poor in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin America, and North America.
And all these people, what do they do? We do everything. We are not specialized, except in facing urgent needs…. It was enough for bishops to come to our Founder and say to him: “I do not have anybody…” for him to act, re-examine his manpower, cut personnel here and there, and release 2 or 3 men for these new needs. And that continues today still. You see, it is a question of passion, of missionary concern….
These quotations show both the realism and the ideal of our life. Seeing the demands of our commitment sometimes frightens us. Mediocrity is always a potential danger. Daily generous fidelity, often heroic, that is the way followed by our brothers whose holiness the Church has recognized: Saint Eugene de Mazenod, the Blessed Joseph Gerard, the apostle of Basuthos, and Blessed Jozef Cebula, who was killed in Mauthausen in 1943, and so many others whose anonymous holiness is registered in the heart of God.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate