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Mission of the Oblates

demazenodOur Beginning: St. Eugene De Mazenod

Born in France in 1782, Eugene De Mazenod lived amid turmoil in his country and in his family.  Although he grew up with the privileges and luxuries of wealth, his family life was far from ideal.  From an early age Eugene was troubled by the living conditions of the poor and their degraded status in society.  After years of struggling to find his place in life, Eugene had a profound conversion experience at the age of 25.  Soon after that he entered the seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1811.

Eugene was not satisfied to accept the traditional role of a pastor serving a large, affluent parish.  Instead, he sought out the poor laborers of southern France and preached the message of God’s love — a message they had not heard before.

In 1816 Eugene invited other men to join in his ministry to the poor and founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Eugene invited his fellow Oblates “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 wholeheartedly to the work of the missions, binding themselves by religious vows.

Because of their small numbers, the Oblates initially limited their ministry to the countryside of France, while dreaming “to embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth,” as the founder had written in 1818.

Efforts to have Eugene De Mazenod canonized began in 1926 and were rewarded with his beatification in 1975.  On December 3, 1995 Pope John Paul II declared Eugene De Mazenod a saint and recognized his example of untiring dedication to the poor.  Saint Eugene De Mazenod’s feast is celebrated on May 21, the anniversary of his death.