The Congregation Today
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate is a Roman Catholic Congregation of priests and brothers, founded in 1816 by a French nobleman Eugène de Mazenod. They are dedicated to serving the poor throughout the world. After 25 years of work in France, missionaries were sent to Canada and the United States and, after that, to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and South Africa.
The relationship with North America, which was a part of the 19th century colonization of Canada and the United States, focused on ministering to the Aboriginal Peoples of both countries. Today, while still involved in some services to Aboriginal communities, the Congregation continues the work of running parishes, schools, hospitals and other service organizations. In the US, in particular, they provide special services to Black and Latino and other immigrant communities.
A focus of their first 100 years of missionary work was on serving the spiritual needs of people in their own languages. In Canada, Oblates such as Frs Émile Petitot and Valentin Végréville, in the 19th century began the documentation of the language and customs of Aboriginal Peoples. They played an active role in the preservation of Native languages and prayers, books and newsletters were prepared in various Native languages. Father Francis Ebner and Brother Henri Sareault developed extensive Aboriginal collections working with the community and these are the basis of the Northern Life Museum in the Northwest Territories. Father Clement Desrochers undertook the same work and his collection is the foundation of the museum at Girouxville, Alberta.
The Assumption Province, Canada, website provides the following information about the Congregation:
Today we number 4,440 priests and brothers working in 71 countries throughout the world. Having arrived in Canada in 1841, the Oblates presently form one of the most important communities of men in the country. We now number about 700 men in Canada. The Oblates in Canada are organized into three sections known as Oblate Provinces. Oblates exercise very diversified ministries, but above all we seek to dedicate ourselves to the poor and abandoned in urban centers, in Northern Canada and in other remote areas of the country. Oblates also work with immigrants, ethnic minorities and First Nations people. One can thus find us for example, in parishes, retreat houses, in missionary formation, preaching, social justice and other pastoral ministries, and universities. Our work situates us throughout Canada, from coast to coast.1
Assumption Province helps Oblate efforts worldwide but, in particular, the work of Polish Oblates in Cameroon, Madagascar and Kenya in Africa.
The Missionary work of the Oblates worldwide involves serving communities on six continents and their mandate has been re-interpreted in the language of the latter half of the 20th century. Besides spreading the faith, educating priests, serving the poor and immigrant communities, they also “promote non-violence, acceptance, and understanding through interfaith initiatives.”2 They are, thus, involved in “the rehabilitation of drug addicts, in care for those suffering from AIDS, in planning for economic housing, in care of refugees and migrants, as well as in the re-evangelization of those who have become estranged from the faith."3
Oblate Communications – The Official Site of the General Administration of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, http://www.omiworld.org/
Mission Oblates of Mary Immaculate Australia Website,
http://www.oblates.com.au/index.php?page=1, retrieved May 6, 2009.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Assumption Province, Canada Website,
http://www.omiap.org/, retrieved May 6, 2009.
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate United State Province Website, http://www.omiusa.org/
2. Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate United States Website, http://www.oblatesusa.org/About.aspx?path=root/momi/About/Mission§ion=mission, retrieved May 6, 2009.
3. Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate United States Website, http://www.oblatesusa.org/About.aspx?path=root/momi/About/Mission§ion=mission, retrieved May 6, 2009.
This project has been supported in part by the Canada-Alberta Agreement on French-language Services; the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Governments of Canada or Alberta.
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