Category Archives: Mission

Year of Oblate Vocations

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The joy and generosity of Oblate life – this is the theme for the Year of Oblate Vocations which began on December 8, 2017. “I would like to invite you,” says the Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, “to consider that the testimony of joy and generosity of our lives can awaken a vocational interest among young people.”

The opening of the Year of Oblate Vocations

The opening of the Year of Oblate Vocations

Oblate units around the world have taken various initiatives for this year of oblate vocations.

As for the community of Aix-en-Provence, this year was inaugurated on December 9th during an evening of prayer and sharing organized by the Mazenodian family. During this evening, Fr. ASODO presented statistics on Oblates formation and Patrick VEY, a young Oblate Scholastic from Germany, currently doing his regency in Aix, gave a testimony by presenting the different stages of his formation, his studies, his various experiences of community and apostolic life.

During this year devoted to oblate vocations, the community of Aix invites us to pray before the Blessed Sacrament every first Thursday of the month, from 8.30 pm to 9.30 pm, in the Oblate Chapel. The community also proposes to recite and meditate the rosary every fourth day of the month, in front of the tomb of Saint Eugene de Mazenod at the cathedral of Marseille at 3 pm. The rosary could also be recited at any other personally chosen moment of the same day!

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

International Day of the Rejection of Misery

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The Eugene de Mazenod International Centre has joined forces with those who fight poverty, ensuring that the dignity and rights of every human person are respected. “We will always be close to the people with whom we work, taking into account their values and aspirations.” (Constitution no.8 of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.)

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In line with our Constitutions and Rules, and following the 2016 General Chapter which invited us to review our mission by giving priority to the new faces of the poor, the Eugene de Mazenod International Centre joined the 30th day for the refusal of misery initiated by ATD Fourth World. Since 1992, the plea launched by Father Wresinski, founder of ATD Fourth World: “Where men are condemned to live in misery, human rights are violated. To unite so ensure that human rights are respected is a sacred duty.” The UN General Assembly adopted this plea, consequently proclaiming October 17 The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

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In the city of Aix-en-Provence, almost 10 years ago, a cooperative movement was born to remind us that poverty is on our doorstep and that we had to fight, all of us, to avoid descent to misery. Today, in France, there are more than 9 million poor people and 2 million of them live on less than 500 € per month. This poverty is at the origin of the descent towards exclusion (inadequate housing, school failure, health care, unemployment).

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This year, in Aix, the cooperative movement decided to move October 17 to Saturday, October 21 so as to reach more people and to raise awareness among them to this cause. In fact, the day before, the film “MAKALA” by Emmanuel Gras, followed by a debate; officially opened the October 21 program. The film revealed how, through simple commitments, people have shown their willingness to roll back poverty related discrimination and reminded everyone that anyone can bring something to society. The students of Célony High School took care of all the communication, the day was animated by various choirs and musical groups and by the organ of Barbarism of the Companions of Emmaus. It was a beautiful day of conviviality, with a large number of interested people, thanks to the mobilization capacity of the cooperative movement “October 17″: ATD Fourth World, Amnesty International, Secours Catholique, Unicef, etc.

“Misery is not a fate, it is the work of men and only men can destroy it.” Joseph Wresinski.

Benoît DOSQUET, OMI

Category: Mission, News

AMMI Retreat

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“Give us a part of your mind!” It is the theme of the retreat that the 20 Italian laity of the AMMI (Missionary Association of Maria Immaculate), accompanied by two Oblate fathers from the Mediterranean Province, did in Aix-en-Provence on August 23-27.

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With a strong desire to confirm, once again, their adherence to the Oblate charism, the participants of the retreat made an encounter in places that were dear to Saint Eugene de Mazenod. The house of the foundation where St. Eugene lived and his writings re-read during the retreat made him alive and renewed in the participants the awareness of what has always fascinated them in this saint.

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The beauty of the city, the warm welcome of the Oblates of the Aix community, fathers and brothers, the competence of the Father BONGA, his ability to transmit knowledge and testimony of life, those all that made this unforgettable retreat that left in the heart of all the strong desire to receive again “a part of the spirit” of Saint Eugene. Many religious and lay people together with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the first guardians of the charism of Saint Eugene, have the desire to communicate this spirit to all the people of this world.

Marina Falcone – AMMI

Category: Mission, News

A Retreat in Aix

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There were 14 people, 8 lay persons from Aix and Strasbourg and 6 Oblates from Marseille and Pontmain, who participated in the retreat led by Joseph Bois, with the theme: « In the name of God let’s be saints! » (Eugene de Mazenod, February 18, 1826) Inspired by the life and works of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, with the Word of God as the basis, the participants attempted to uncover what kind of sainthood they are called to today.

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There were two daily lectures, one in the morning and one in the early afternoon, both quite short, to present certain aspects of the life of Saint Eugene along with biblical texts for meditation. Sessions on prayer and discernment were also offered to voluntary participants. The retreat began and ended with a moment of shared contemplation among all partaking members.

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The entire retreat, meals included, was lived through in silence, respected by all participants. They appreciated the leadership team, the silence, prayerful atmosphere and tranquil rhythm allotting time for each session and activity.

Joseph BOIS, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Visit of the Oblates of the France-Benelux Delegation

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It was with a great joy the community of Aix welcomed a group of Polish Oblates of the France-Benelux Delegation who came on pilgrimage to the sources of the Congregation.

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During the visit of Aix, our pilgrims followed lectures on the life of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and visited the places in Aix en Provence and Marseilles where he had lived. The Mass at the tomb of the Founder of the Oblates was the most touching moment of their pilgrimage.

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The Delegation of France-Benelux belongs legally to the Province of Poland. It was created after the Second World War to serve many Polish-speaking Christian communities in France and Belgium. At present, they are about thirty Oblates who are extending to Luxembourg as well.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Spiritual retreat of COMI

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The COMI have just left their Father’s house in Aix, after ten days. Silence falls in the cloister and in the common spaces of the House, where they shared the joy of living in the same places of St. Eugene and filled these places by their prayers, their sharings among themselves and their liveliness. For the first time, three continents of the COMI world found themselves together in Aix for a retreat and interchapter meetings: approximately 30 participants, mostly Italians, but also an Uruguayan and three Congolese.

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Elderly COMI members and those with health problems have not renounced the possibility of this experience: to come and find their Father, St. Eugene de Mazenod, in the bicentenary of the Foundation of the OMI. This House had never been inhabited by so many women at a time, only during the days of the Carmelite nuns in the 17th century! Hospitality, assistance and the availability of the Aix Oblate community contributed decisively to the success of this experience, while also strengthening the fraternal bonds with the COMI.

So many precious moments of grace were experienced! The Eucharist on the Tomb of St. Eugene, the Missionary mandate of two COMI members which will soon open a new mission in Argentina, the renewal of temporary vows of three COMI and a 50th anniversary of oblation: the COMI welcomed their vocation and their sharing in the Oblate charism, as women consecrated, called to live in the world.

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The retreat preached by their assistant, Fr. Fabio CIARDI, OMI, was rather an experience of fraternity, during which they felt received and welcomed by St. Eugene, as women, encouraging them to live charity among themselves and confirming them in their mission of evangelisation in communion with the Oblates, their brothers.

BONGA MAJOLA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Aix welcomes a group of Flemish lay associates

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My uncle, Piet WEIJS, was an Oblate missionary in Congo. He died at the age of 38, at Ipamu, on 11 October 1977 – said Marjam HOEIJMAKERS. It was a great joy for the Aix community to welcome a group of lay Flemish people from Belgium and Netherlands.

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This group, accompanied by Fr. Georges Vervust, was made up of people who live the Oblate charism in their daily lives and others who have blood relations with Oblates. However, listening to their testimonies it is clear that it is difficult to be an Oblate relative and not live the Oblate charism. Christiane testifies, The family of my husband is proud of Gerard DEFEVER, an Oblate who was killed in 1964 during the civil war in Congo. My brother Hugo VANDEMBRANDE arrived from Bolivia this week. He spent 47 years there. He returned because he is now paralyzed. We’ll take care of him – says Andrew with a deep sense of pride.

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The Oblates of the Province of Belgium and Netherlands are not very numerous and their average age announces inevitable decline. However, missionary work accomplished by the Oblates from these countries is great and deserves to be known and appreciated.

The house in Aix is open to all Oblate pilgrims and all people who want to better their knowledge of our spirituality and missionary work.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

The members of the General Committee of Oblate Brothers deepened the source of their vocation

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On February 11-20th, 2016, the Centre International de Mazenod hosted the meeting of the General Committee of Oblate Brothers. The committee was able to have a great experience of the bicentenary in Aix, Marseille and Notre-Dame-du-Laus (the second Oblate house and the place of the vocation of the first brother Oblate). That was the experience of fraternity among themselves as well as with the Aix community as a spiritual experience especially on February 17th when we renewed our vows.

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In line with the letter of Pope Francis to the religious, thanks to the contribution of the community in Aix that the committee was able to read the beginning of the Oblate community life in the Congregation. Regional delegates shared the life of the Oblate Brother in the Region, which helped to give thanks to all the advances and open some questions for the future.

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Following the release of the document “Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church”, the committee was able to work on the aspect of religious life as the source of the charisma of the Missionary Oblate. “Our first ministry in the Church as religious is to keep alive in the baptized the conscience of the fundamental values of the Gospel and the demand to respond through their sanctity of life the love God poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit “(cf. doc. No. 7). Being the witnesses of Jesus Christ! This work allowed us, the committee to develop a basis for a 5 days retreat in the Region.

The last two days were devoted to the preparation of the 36th General Chapter which to be held in Rome in September 2016.

Benoît DOSQUET, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Living Lenten Season together

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Last Tuesday the first meeting of the youth group took place at the Oblate community house in Aix. As from now, we will be meeting every Tuesday evening.

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To fully live the Lenten Season, we have decided to live it together as a group of young people with the Oblates. These Tuesday prayer meetings will prepare us to visit the elderly, the sick and the disabled people bringing them Holy Communion during Holy week.

Why bring communion to these people? Because this can be for us a great missionary adventure! Inspired by the example of St. Eugene de Mazenod, we have a desire to live the Oblate charism, we want, during this time of Lent, to go towards the poor and the sick and bring them our help and our support in Christ! We do this being sent as missionaries together with the Oblate community.

How to prepare for this mission? The preparation is done through prayer and sharing the word of God. It is for this reason that we invite all the youth in Aix to come and join us every Tuesday as from February 16, from 19h15 to 19h45, at 56 cours Mirabeau.

Sophie VLAISLOIR

Category: Mission, News

PilgrimAix – youth pilgrimage

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On November 21st, 1815, St. Eugene de Mazenod blessed the Choir of the Carmelites desecrated during the Revolution and made it a place of prayer for the Youth Association he founded. These recent days, the same choir served as a place of prayer for the Youth, organized here in Aix by the Commission of the Youth and Vocation Pastoral in Europe (CPJVE).

In front of the Church of the Mission

In front of the Church of the Mission

There were 35 young people from Italy, Spain, Ireland, Ukraine, Germany, France and Poland joined in the “PilgrimAix” to discover places where St. Eugene de Mazenod had lived in. They are animated by Brother Benoit DOSQUET and Father Henricus ASODO of the Aix community. The Youth, accompanied by their own Oblate chaplains, Lisa RENNER, OMI and Ileana CHINNICI, COMI, visited Aix and Marseille. The prayers, liturgical celebrations or reflection on the spiritual experience of St. Eugene in the veneration of the Cross on Good Friday as well as the pilgrimage of the parish mission preached in 1820 at Aix by the Oblates, have indeed enriched their visits.

In the chapel of first vows

In the chapel of first vows

Besides, in a solemn celebration, the Oblate Youth Chaplains: Antonio D’AMORE, David MEDINA, Jens WATTEROH, David OMIECINSKI, Andrzej ALBINIAK, Przemek KOSCIANEK and Jacques LANGLET, signed the copy of the request for the authorization to form a community of missionaries submitted in 1816 to the authorities of the diocese of Aix by St. Eugene and his first companions. This symbolic gesture is offered to all the Oblates who visit the Foundation’s room since last year as a preparatory triennium to the bicentenary of the Congregation.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mission, News