Category Archives: De Mazenod Experience

De Mazenod Experience

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Fr. James Ralston OMI from Johannesburg, South Africa (OMISA), recently participated in the De Mazenod Experience, he shares with us what this Experience meant for him.

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“In this, the year of my 25th anniversary of religious vows, I felt it pertinent to spend some quality time in reflection and revitalisation, so I applied to participate in the De Mazenod Experience. The 21 years since ordination have been spent in Formation as a treasurer for 8 years and the balance in parish ministry.

Coming on the De Mazenod Experience has been the realisation of a long-held desire. From the very moment I set foot on Aix-en-Provence I have experienced an emotion not experienced for ages. Being within the walls of where the Congregation began; being in the city where the Founder was born and visiting the places and sites of significance to the Oblates has brought a whole new reality to my life as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate.

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The time spent listening and reading about St. Eugène and the early Oblates, their experiences and their drive, enkindled in me a renewed enthusiasm and determination to bring to life what I have learnt, to bear fruit on my future life and ministry, not without its challenges and demands, but with a revitalised view of the commencement of the Oblates.

The retreat spent at Notre Dame de Vie outside of St. Didier was grace-filled and wonderful experiencing both extremes of tears, for joy and from frustration. The mere fact of being guided through the meditation with frequent encouragement permitted me to open my heart to the working of the Holy Spirit and to be able to view myself and my spiritual journey on a more positive light, this making me more responsive to God’s work in my life.

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My feelings of gratitude are beyond words, but not beyond how I intend to express them in my ministry and my life. My sincere thanks to God and all those who have made this De Mazenod Experience what it proved to be for me. I quote from my journal notes, “Should I begin to rationalise, I can see no logical reason why he (God) should have remained at my side as my protector, except the fact that he loved me to life and therefore continues to love me, even though there remain occasions of ingratitude in my life.”

I return to parish ministry, and a new obedience, filled with fresh zeal and an enlightened view on life and mission.”

James Ralston OMI

The De Mazenod Experience and My Encounter with Jesus

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At the beginning, this De Mazenod Experience (DMX) was not my priority. I came to this DMX because I wanted to know the spirituality of St. Eugene, but without any excitement. What made me so exited most was my plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, prior to the DMX. After the Camino, then I would joint the DMX.

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But now I could say that this DMX is the best gift from God that I can not be grateful enough. I received many blessings from this Experience. All my questions, mostly spiritual questions were answered. I know much better who St. Eugene is, and this is more important, I fall in love with him again. His spiritual life became an inspiration for me to live out my own. Knowing and loving him help me to see clearly my identity as an Oblate. I know where I am going. It guves me a meaningful life. I feel so grateful to the call of my Oblate life. As an Oblate I am connected to such a great history of St. Eugene and of the Oblate Family. Those are the graces that I never imagined before.

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This DMX also give me an experience of encountering Jesus in a very intimate way. He loves me beyond my sinfullness. He calls me to live in an united live with Him. He always look for me to forgive my sins so that I can live in Him and He lives in me. He never leaves me. He shows me the way to live my life according to His will. He makes me understand how to love Him and live my life happilly.

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Now I live my life full of gratitude, love and joy. I will live my life as an Oblate faithfuly. I will follow the Constitutions and Rules without any excuses. I will give all my life to Jesus through prayers, reflection, study and mission. I will give my whole life for the sake of the Church’s mission, through the Congregation with the heart full of gratitude. I will invite my brothers Oblate to live as an Oblate in accordance to the dream of St. Eugene. I also want to be the witness of St Eugene ‘s charism to many people by choosing the most powerless, simple and less publication acts. I will leave nothing undared.

In Jedus’ and Mary’s name

Antonius Radjabana OMI

De Mazenod Experience in 2019

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In 2019, there will be two De Mazenod Experience in Aix; each lasting two months. The first is for English-speaking Oblates that will begin on April 24. The second is for the Spanish-speaking Oblates that will begin on September 11th.

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The De Mazenod Experience is a renewal program that gives participants a re-reading of their experience of the Oblate Charism. The Experience takes place in an atmosphere of prayer and reflection. Fraternal sharing is an important dimension of this session.

During the Experience the participants make pilgrimages to the significant places of the foundation: Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Laurent du Verdon, first missions preached by the Missionaries of Provence as well as pilgrimage to the tomb of the Founder in Marseille. They also make two weeks of silent retreat according to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius.

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The second De Meazenod Experience for the year 2018 is about to end. It is done in English. There are 16 Oblates from 9 nationalities live this experience. Fathers Asodo and Bonga, of the community of Aix, and Father Tony RIGOLI, of the United States, animate this session.

We wish the Oblates welcomed among us having a true spiritual renewal.

Gérard SOLDAINI

45th De Mazenod Experience

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Twelve Oblates from 8 different nationalities are currently participating in the De Mazenod Experience that is being given in French. This session is taking place in the birthplace of the Congregation and is led by three Oblates: Joseph Bois and Asodo Istoyo (Aix-en-Provence) and Ron LaFramboise (San Antonio in the United States).

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The De Mazenod Experience is a renewal program whose purpose is to enable the participants to look at their experience of the Oblate charism as it is lived in their daily missionary life. The experience takes place in an atmosphere of prayer, reflection and fraternal sharing. Important moments of the Experience are the pilgrimages to the significant places of the foundation: Aix-en-Provence, the first missions preached by the Missionaries of Provence, the tomb of the Founder in Marseille. The highlight of the program is the two-week silent retreat according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius that is held in a monastery.

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It was the 1986 General Chapter that gave birth to the spiritual renewal program called the De Mazenod Experience and choose Aix-en-Provence as its location. The first of 45 Experiences to date was in 1990. Nearly 620 Oblates have participated in this program. September 12 the English Experience will begin.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

De Mazenod Experience in Spanish – 2017

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From September 12th to November 9th, with Chicho Rois (Western Sahara) and Domingo Di Meo (Italy), I led the De Mazenod experience (DMX) in Spanish by accompanying 13 Oblates from various Latin American countries, USA and Ukraine, and facilitating the encounter with God through St. Eugene.

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To be in the Mother House at Aix-en-Provence is always a unique experience. Being in the “holy land” of our congregation, it is to feel the strength of the Spirit that accompanied Saint Eugene and his first companions at the dawn of the Oblate life. It is to put one’s footsteps in theirs to experience what they have experienced and to discover the poor who needed the love of God on these Provencal lands.

At the beginning of the experience we had a touching celebration in the Foundation Room where we presented both our Oblate crosses and what everyone wish to experience during those months. The first weeks were a time of integration, study and personal reflection. Each day was presented an aspect of the life of St. Eugene or the Oblate Charism that helped us to re-read our own lives and to enter into the mystery of our vocation. It was the significant moments that allowed us to deepen our lives and our mission. We concluded this first period with a meeting with the heart of St. Eugene. During this celebration we were all able to hold in our hands the heart of Saint Eugene (venerated in the Founder’s Room) and feel the feelings and zeal for the mission of our dear Father.

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We, then, made a retreat for two weeks at Sainte Garde, a house held by the Institute of Our Lady of Life. Days filled with the Spirit of God who accompanied each of us in a different way and allowed us to re-discover the presence of God that was constantly manifested in the events of each day: in prayer, interviews, meals, walks, and our rest. The consecrated persons who took care of the house, the teachers and the young seminarians and students as well as the Provençal nature invited us to marvel once again of the greatness of the Lord.

On Sunday October 15th we had a chance to walk to visit the Church of Our Lady of Life and celebrating together the feast of Saint Teresa of Avila. We also shared a solemn moment of encountering the Lord with Saint Teresa.

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During the retreat, by the personal accompaniment, we perceived how God revealed himself to each person according to his own characters, and how he gave everyone what he needed to rediscover his life and his vocation.

Returned to Aix after the retreat, we welcomed Father Alberto Huamán, the General Councilor for Latin America, who introduced us to the ways that the congregation discovered to continue his mission at this time, and invited us to continue to follow in the footsteps of St. Eugene.

The high point was the presence of Father General, with whom we were able to speak personally. During the final and missioning celebration, we renewed our oblation that one day we made in fervor before him, our Superior General, who handed back our Oblate crosses and sent us to continue our Oblate mission.

We give thanks to God for all that we have lived and we also thank the Oblate community of Aix who, by its closeness, fraternity, and constant attention, allowed us to realize this encounter with God through Saint Eugene de Mazenod.

Omar FRIEDRICH, OMI

The De Mazenod Experience in Spanish

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On September 13th, the De Mazenod Experience began with 16 Oblates from the Spanish-speaking countries. The session is animated by three Fathers: Chicho ROIS (Western Sahara), Domenico DI MEO (Italy) and Omar FRIEDRICH (Argentina). The thirteen participants are from Spain, USA, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil and Guatemala.

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The De Mazenod Experience is a renewal program designed to allow participants to re-read their experience of the Oblate Charism in their daily missionary lives.

The primary objectives of the Experience are: ongoing formation, renewal of the Oblate vocation, reflection on the lived experience of the Charism, deepening of the Oblate Charism in one’s own life, as well as to deeper understanding of the Founder and personal conversion. The experience takes place in an atmosphere of prayer, reflection and fraternal sharing.

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The important moments of the Experiment are the pilgrimages to the significant sites of the foundation: Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, the first missions preached by the Missionaries of Provence, pilgrimage to the tomb of the Founder.

In this program, one other strong moment is the two weeks of silent retreat following the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Pilgrimage to Fuveau

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On Pentecost Monday, participants of the De Mazenod Experience made a pilgrimage to Fuveau where, in September 1816, the missionaries of Provence preached a parish mission. This mission gave birth to the vocation of Marius Suzanne, a young native of this city. Suzanne entered the novitiate at the age of 17.

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The pilgrimage began in the Chapel of the First Vows where the rite of the commissioning of missionaries was celebrated as prescribed by the Constitutions and rules of 1818. The rite begins with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, followed by a community prayer, and the blessing by the Superior. Prostration during the blessing is part of this rite.

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On arrival at Fuveau, the pilgrims stopped for prayer before the mission cross, erected on the roadside by Saint Eugene de Mazenod and his companions at the end of the 1816 mission. Later, a Mass for Oblate vocation was celebrated in the Parish Church of Fuveau.

The pilgrimage ended with a picnic at the square in front of the Chapel of St. Michael, patron of the town of Fuveau.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Supported in Friendship and Fraternal Life

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The 2017 De Mazenod Experience in English began on April 19 with 15 participants coming from 9 Units. We began, welcomed by members of the Aix Community, literally “coming into” this our first Oblate community house, proceeding into the Church of the Mission, the Chapel of the Vows, and going upstairs to The Foundation Room, where we spent time in community prayer.

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The first several weeks saw us learning about St. Eugene’s story and our stories, reflecting on the beginnings as a Missionary and Religious community with Eugene and his first companions, and together reflecting on the missionary expansion during the time of the Founder and beyond, and the contemporary situations in our own missionary units today. The facilitators for this session are Fr. Asodo ISTOYO, of the Aix Community and Bro. Patrick McGEE of the US Province.

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Our retreat will be under the direction of Fr. Paweł RATAJCZAK, assisted by Fr. Asanga VIRAJ, Fr. Asodo and Bro. Pat as spiritual directors. Following the two weeks of retreat, we will have some further input on local Oblate history and mission in Aix and Marseilles, a visit to St. Eugene’s tomb, some input from the General Administration, a visit by the Superior General, and some final wrap up and evaluation. It has been a rich experience thus far, and our group has become an Oblate community, blessed by our being here. We remember you in our prayer!

Patrick McGee, OMI

De Mazenod Experience in Polish

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The De Mazenod Experience in Polish is currently taking place in Aix at the cradle of our Congregation since the 1st of September till October 7th 2015. The Experience is animated by Krzysztof ZIELENDA (Superior of Aix), Roman TYCZYNSKI (France-Benelux), and Paweł RATAJCZAK (Assumption, Canada).

During prayer in the Foundation Room

During prayer in the Foundation Room

The recently formulated De Mazenod Experience program is meant to be two months long, however, in order to allow the Polish Oblate participants to find “a time window” the program had to be shortened to six weeks. The first sign of “Polish atmosphere” manifested itself in Aix already in January of this year during the retreat for the Superiors of Polish Oblate communities.

Preparing for the Experience the participants list kept changing but in the end a very fine group, openhearted, with an ability to create a joyful and sincere community, made it to Aix. Even though all the participants are only Oblates of Polish background and the spoken language remains Polish, as a group they truly represent the whole of the Congregation. The group is made up of Oblates working in Canada, US, Luxembourg, Sweden, Madagascar, Cameroun, Ukraine, Belarus and of course Poland itself; and among the participants are two Oblate brothers.

During conference in Room Temp

During conference in Room Temp

For some of us this is our very first visit to Aix – for others they have been here before. For some it is part of a sabbatical program – others, just a stop in the middle of their mission to take some spiritual power – and yet for others, it is a moment to prepare for a major change in their mission.

For us here our “Daily bread” is prayer and the Eucharist in the chapel of First Vows of our Founder. Sharing, visiting places associated with the life of St. Eugene and his first companions, as well as the upcoming retreat, all these are common for a De Mazenod Experience program, but the uniqueness of the group gives to it all a very special coloring.

Andrzej JASTRZEBSKI, OMI

De Mazenod Experience – Dates of the next sessions

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On 1 September 2015 we began in Aix-en-Provence the De Mazenod Experience (DMX) in Polish with 13 Oblates participating in the program. The participants are from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Madagascar, USA and Sweden.

De Mazenod Experience in English 2015

De Mazenod Experience in English 2015

The DMX is a spiritual renewal program lived in Aix-en-Provence which aims at enabling the participants to look back over their missionary experience in the light of the life of the Founder and the first Oblate community.

Here are the dates of the next De Mazenod Experiences in different languages:

De Mazenod Experience in English:
19 April – 15 June 2017
12 September – 08 November 2018
24 April – 20 June 2019

De Mazenod Experience in French:
07 September – 03 November 2016
11 April – 07 June 2018

De Mazenod Experience in Spanish
06 September – 02 November 2017
11 September – 07 November 2019

For more information please visit: A new program of the De Mazenod Experience

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI