About the Oblates
Who are the Oblates?
France was a shattered society when Eugene de Mazenod, gathered around him a group of like-minded priests. They would go the poorest people in the land to remind them of their human dignity, announce again the message of Jesus Christ and help them to a new way of life.
This enthusiastic group became the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1826. Despite being a small number, Eugene sent his missionaries to the furthest reaches of the world: To the poor in Canada and on the Texas / Mexican border; to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) and South Africa. Oblates first came to the UK in 1841 and to Ireland in 1856. At Eugene de Mazenod’s canonisation in December 1995, Pope John Paul II said of him:
“he had a heart as big as the world”.
Where are the Oblates today and what do they do?
Over 4000 Oblate priests and brothers are to be found today in more than 60 countries of the world. Oblates from Ireland and the UK are missionaries in Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, United States and Canada.
Oblates exercise very diverse ministries but above all seek to dedicate themselves to the poor and abandoned. One can thus find Oblates in Britain and Ireland working in parishes, in missionary formation, preaching, social justice and pastoral ministries, or prisons. “No ministry is alien to us as long as we never lose sight of the main purpose of the Congregation: the evangelization of the most abandoned.” ~ Oblate Constitutions and Rules.
So, the Oblates strive to seek out, befriend and respect as sisters and brothers, the abandoned poor with their many faces: weak, unemployed, illiterate, victims of addictions, sick, marginalized, immigrants, minorities – not only the materially poor, but also those who are poor in spirit, those who do not know the name of Jesus Christ. Our mission invites us to a team approach, to collaboration with laity and other religious communities, to formation of lay leaders who will serve the needs of others, to become a part of the lives of those of others.
St. Eugene de Mazenod, first sent Oblates to Britain and Ireland in 1841. Local people, in their turn, soon began to leave these islands to help continue the work of the Gospels throughout the world. Today there are men from this Anglo-Irish province in places as far away as Brazil, Australia, The Philippines, Indonesia and South Africa. They are helping the church take root in local cultures. As well as these, there are 140 Oblates, priests and brothers, gathering in small faith communities across Britain and Ireland. They work at keeping hope alive in the middle of life’s difficulties, especially where there is poverty, addiction or lack of opportunity. Together we are nourished by God’s word, sustained in prayer and united in the Eucharist. At the centre of our lives stands the figure of Jesus. God became like one of us, so that we might become like God. Jesus shares our joy and our grief, our hope and our anguish. Following where he calls, we come as we are, leaning on God and on each other for the strength and the courage to respond in these present times to the needs of our world.