Category Archives: News

Aix Experience

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Joel Faye is a missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate originally from Sénegal, he is currently finishing his studies at the Italian Scholasticate in Vermicino. He recently spent a week with the community in Aix preparing himself for his Final Oblation, on Sunday 1st March he professed his Final Vows in Rome; here he shares his Aix Experience with us,

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“To live my preparation for perpetual oblation where it all began for our congregation is an exceptional grace. It was for me, the invitation of our Lord to go aside with him, accompanied by Saint Eugene to stay in what I consider to be our ‘Bethlehem.’ The graces of this moment of spiritual nutrition can still be felt even today and I pray that, like Mary, I will be able to meditate and keep this in the bottom of my heart like a precious treasure that is rooted in the gratitude and acknowledgment that accompanied this experience. Thus, it will be the Bethlehem (house of bread) that I will carry with me to nourish my spiritual life and find strength in difficult times.

Aix is for me our holy land, one of our sanctuaries, a suitable place for what has been my preparation for perpetual oblation, because not only did I come into contact with the physical place of our birth as a congregation, (places which constituted different phases of Saint Eugene de Mazenod towards his total offering to God, to the Church and to his brethren.) In addition, I was also in contact with our Oblate charism. Being in Aix was a pilgrimage, an interior and physical exodus, for example going to Saint Laurent du Verdon was for me like going up to Mount Sinai and questioning myself about the meaning that I give to our Rule of Life in relation to the experience I have made.

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Barjol was a moment to rejoice once again in my choice of missionary life for its beauty lived in community and to let the fiery flame of the proclamation of the Gospel rise to the surface for those who are most abandoned. The moment of prayer, meditating on the conversion of Eugene on a Good Friday, with the Oblate Cross in the cathedral of Aix, the same place where he had his Experience, was a call to my personal and permanent conversion.

The house of Aix as such with some of its particularly symbolic places facilitated my dialogues with Saint Eugene. For example, in his room from where he prepared his correspondence with the Oblates, seated on his chair I wrote him a letter telling him about my life, the feelings that animated me and asking for his paternal and affectionate guidance and his intercession. This experience provoked within me a strong feeling of trust in God and a deep feeling of belonging to our religious family, because I did not make this experience alone but I was with other Oblate brothers of the community of Aix but also with others from various horizons, that maybe, I will never see again, but Oblate charity, Eugene’s testament, made us live the joy of fraternity and will certainly keep us united in prayer.

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I will preciously keep in my heart this moment of grace and blessing which I lived in Aix during my preparation for the total gift of myself for the Reign of God. I wish that all those who are inspired by Saint Eugene could be able to meet him there in Aix because he is waiting for us there, and there, one is able to make an awesome experience of personal contact with him.

Joel Faye OMI

My dear children

Eugene

My dear children,

I, a man of the XIXth century, want, by this letter, to reach you in your times of the XXIth where, in this period of Lent 2020, you are going through a global health crisis. With my life experience, I would like to share this with you:

As a young priest in 1814 in Aix-en-Provence, my heart is bleeding today with you in front of so many anguished “poor people with many faces”, so many isolated or carefree young people, so many rebellious prisoners. On this subject, do not forget that I contracted typhus from Austrian prisoners of war and that, I owe healing thanks to the incessant prayer of young people in front of the Statue of our Lady of Grace.

As Superior General of a missionary Congregation, my heart is bleeding today with you before this pandemic which affects all continents: after Asia, now Europe, and already Latin America and Africa. To date, I see that more than a third of humanity is confined because of this virus.

As Bishop, my heart is bleeding today with you in front of the disarray of the People of God who cannot come together and celebrate. However, in 1848 – in quite a different circumstance certainly – remember that I had exempted the Christians of Marseilles from Easter Mass to allow them to go to vote! You? You are lucky to have the Internet! So, including praying and celebrating, I repeat: “for new needs, Charity invents new means”!

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Like a Pastor too, I had to face the cholera epidemic of 1837 which ravaged our dear city of Marseilles. Being in the countryside at the time of the arrival of the plague, I immediately returned to the diocese to live these dark hours with the people of Marseilles, Les Marseillais. I remember a newspaper headline saying, “The future is in our hands.” Certainly, this is true. For you today, it is in the hands of experienced health professionals, researchers, cashiers, police, authorities … But the future is primarily in the hands of God. So, my turn to tell you, “don’t be afraid”; and with another message dear to my Oblate sons: “But pray my dear children, God will hear you in no time”; our Lord Jesus Christ, full of tenderness and mercy, lets himself be touched. He will not abandon you.

I share with you the grief and mourning of all those who have already lost a loved one, victim of this scourge. Myself, I was very hard hit by the death of my most faithful servant at the bishop’s house during the cholera. Again, this loss made my heart bleed. At the end of the epidemic, I celebrated a solemn service at the cathedral for all the victims.

One more piece of advice: invent the means to take care, to show interest and to have concern for the families hit by this terrible epidemic, for families and isolated people, confined on their own. It is important that no one is forgotten.

Finally, remember that at the beginning of the epidemic of 1837, my first gesture was to go up to Our Lady at Notre Dame de la Garde, to celebrate Holy Mass there and to ask Our Good Mother to intercede for us with her divine Son. So, my dear children, today also turn to her, with the same confidence.

Charles Joseph Eugène +

Wednesday, March 25, 2020, on the feast of the Annunciation.

Bernard Dullier, omi

Category: News

194TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PAPAL APPROBATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONS AND RULES

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On 18 February 1826, Eugene wrote a letter to Fr. Tempier sharing with him the good news, “My dear brothers, on February 17, 1826, yesterday evening, the Sovereign Pontiff Leo XII confirmed the decision of the congregation of Cardinals and specifically approved the Institute, the Rules and Constitutions of the Missionary Oblates of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary…”

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On Monday, February 17, 2020, 194 years later, the Suzanne Room at 56 Cours Mirabeau was almost too small to accommodate the faithful of the Mission Church, members of the Mazenodian Family and friends of the Oblate Missionaries. All had come to celebrate with the Community the 194th anniversary of the Pope’s approbation of the Congregation and its Constitutions and Rules.
A brief historical reminder, the reading of an excerpt from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, a time of silence, a prayer to meditate with Saint Eugene, some songs and the reading of excerpts from the letter of Fr. Louis Lougen, Superior General, allowed to share an intense moment of prayer in communion with Oblate Missionaries from around the world.
“The missionary project of Eugene and companions is written in our hearts…. we see its prophetic relevance for today… The Church in our own times, in various ways and in diverse places around the world, has been devastated.. This reality cries out with urgency to us and touches our hearts as it did Eugene’s.” Letter from Fr. Louis Lougen, Superior General, 17 February 2020.

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Bro. Benoit, then briefly recalled, using photos, what were the main stages and the highlights of Eugene de Mazenod’s life. He highlighted the human side of the Founder, his passion for humanity and his passionate love for Jesus Christ.

“…Man is the creature of God and you are the children of God, the brothers of Jesus Christ. O Christians, recognize your dignity, you who have been made partakers of the divine nature…” Eugene de Mazenod. Sermon of the Madeleine. 1813.

Eugene de Mazenod manifested this passion for humanity and for God, throughout his life to the poorest, the abandoned of his time… It is this same passion that the Oblates express in their rule of life: ” Through the eyes of our crucified Saviour we see the world which he redeemed with his blood, desiring that those in whom he continues to suffer will know also the power of his resurrection”(CC4)

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Building on this same idea Bro. Benoit shared some of the highlights of his recent visit in the Philippines and Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world where all religions rub shoulders.
Benoit was impressed by the presence of the laity who work effectively with the Oblates, by the vitality of the home based Christian communities, by the involvement of the Oblates in parishes, in schools, by the complicated life of the Oblate Brothers in the Philippines, by the participation of young people, by the joy shown by leaders of the Mazenodian Family during their meetings, by prayer, the missionary life that animates all communities.

A big thank you to Bro. Benoit for this testimony full of joy and hope. And it was in a mazendian fraternity that the participants shared the meal that closed this beautiful evening.

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Chantal Bernard Bret (Member of the Mezonodien Family, Aix)

Category: News

MAZENODIAN FRATERNITY (2019-2020) – WEEKEND OF INTEGRATION

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St. John Paul II declared, “I want to address you young people, you are the future of the world, the hope of the Church, you are my hope”. Moved by these words, we are twelve young people to have made the choice to join the Mazenodian Fraternity this academic year. More than just for accommodation, we all want to discover, learn from each other and live a meaningful year, both professionally and spiritually.

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Consequently, on Saturday, September 7, we began the weekend of integration. A great moment of encounter! This weekend allowed us to be serene about the coming year. Brother Benoît and Father Bonga concocted a beautiful program that combined spirituality, discovery of the other / of oneself and time of conviviality. In this perspective, the morning was dedicated to a time of prayer, personal meditation, the Eucharist and then meals, successively.

Meals became a highlight of the gathering where we learnt the origins of each other, the program of studies undertaken, the aspirations of each one. In short, we exchanged information necessary for the discovery of the other. This knowledge, initially superficial, left room, at 15h, for a deep and sincere interaction. The workshop entitled, “Who am I? “, carried a profound meaning. Of course, it is easy to schematize “I am x, I am xx years old, I study law / literature / art… I am passionate about cinema; I prefer dogs to cats”. However, that is not what we truly are, at least it does not represent our depth. From this perspective, this workshop marked the beginning of something beautiful, great, which has surpassed us all and submerged to varying degrees. We had to bring an object that symbolizes us. In this way, each one revealed, discreetly and modestly, what made him, that is to say, a unique, complex being. Everyone’s sharing was received with respect and kindness.

Then, to better understand the history of the place that shelters us, Brother Benoit and Father Bonga lead us to discover the premises. Passing through different corridors, we became aware of the vast legacy of the Oblate congregation: we were treading on a history that was almost 203 years old. The visit ended where we had started, around the fountain in the cloister. Some pictures were taken occasionally by Brother Benoit to immortalize the weekend.

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It was time for dinner. Around a good meal (hamburger-fries!), we got to know each other better. Community members of the Oblate congregation, from as diverse background as Spain or the United States, honoured us with their presence. In the kitchen, while cleaning, drying and storing utensils and cutlery, a jovial atmosphere sets in; in the simplicity and friendliness of the moment, I think we already shared a common feeling of gratitude for being there.

The day ended with a prayer time in the chapel. Everyone shared his experience of the day, an overall feeling emerges: confidence in the future, faith in this group; already united after passing merely a day together.

After a good night’s sleep, we gathered in the morning for a time of prayer, prepared by the “elders”, that is to say those for whom this life experience was not something totally new, since it is their second year among the Oblates.

A personal time of reflection followed afterwards, where we were invited to write down our project for the year, what everyone, in the deepest of oneself, wants to make of this particular year. This is a personal and confidential letter; it will be opened and proposed for evaluation at the end of the year to help in making one’s personal assessment of the year, whether expectations and commitments were met. The 12 envelopes with our letters were entrusted to the Lord during the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.

The parishioners of the Church of the Mission were asked and encouraged to remember us in their prayers. At the end of the Eucharist we were given the book of Pope Francis “Christus Vivit” a powerful letter addressed to the young people and to all the people of God.

Fraternity is also conviviality and so we gathered together in the cloister for aperitif before enjoying the Sunday lunch, which was also an opportunity for some to practice their English and / or Spanish by talking with Oblates from around the world who are currently in Aix for their spiritual renewal session, indeed for them Aix is a place of healing and renewal and of being closer to their Founder.

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The afternoon was dedicated to the practical organisation of the FRAT and to establish guidelines to allow us to live together in a healthy and a lifegiving manner. Task teams i.e. SPI, Meals, Laudato Si etc, were formed; upcoming important events were highlighted including a weekend with the Chavril community in Lyon; dates for important rendez-vous, like meals and prayers, were fixed.

This weekend ended with a barbecue, during which Father Asodo offered each one of us a Bartik shirt typical of his country, Indonesia, what a nice surprise! An additional element forging a little more our common life and identity!

Hence, the members of the Fraternity experienced this weekend as a moment of encounter and discovery, exchange and trust. Expressions such as: enriching, powerful, joyful, smiles, listening, sharing, lifegiving and trust sum up the entire experience!

Mathieu, Charlie, Clovis.

Category: News

News from the community of Aix-en-Provence

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Summer 2019

The summer months, like every year, were quite busy, with the hosting of sessions, different groups and individual visitors and pilgrims. They were quite warm months too, but we were not the only ones in this heat wave!

The De Mazenod Experience in English animated by Bonga, Asodo and Angelo ended in June.

In May, we learned about the appointment of our new superior since Krzysztof Zielenda was finishing his 2nd term, Asodo replaced him. We took advantage of the presence of Fr. General, who came to meet the participants of the De Mazenod Experience, to install the new superior on June 20.

Krzysztof left us at the beginning of July to take a good rest in his native country before joining other skies.

For the moment, the community has only 5 members. But we hope to have some reinforcement in the months to come.

Scholastics Summer Session

Scholastics Summer Session

July was taken by the summer session for scholastics and in early August, two groups of young people from Italy and Spain came to discover the birthplace of Eugene de Mazenod and the cradle of the congregation. They also organized a beautiful prayer vigil at the Church of the Mission.

During these three months, several groups or individuals stayed with us: a group of laity from Poland, families or friends of Oblates. Fortunately, we have a bursar who, as they say, “does not have both feet in the same clog!”

Many of us were also taken by outside activities: Bonga went to preach a retreat in Czech Republic, Jo in Strasbourg for the Oblates of France and in Switzerland for nuns.

Youth groups from Spain and Italy

Youth groups from Spain and Italy

When Mario arrived in Aix, he had some problems with his teeth. We encouraged him to seek treatment, and, with the help of our Polish brothers, he found in Poland a good (and much cheaper) dentist who is giving him another chance to “bite and chew.” Mario has already made several trips to Poland and we share in his hopes that he will soon be able to eat something other than yogurt, minced meat, soup etc.

Two of us have experienced more painful events: at the end of June, Jo lost his elder sister, following a long suffering with cancer, and, at the end of August, Benoît learned about the death of one of his uncles who lived very close to his family.

We must also highlight several repairs or maintenance that are inevitable in a centuries-old house: repairing a stained-glass window of the church that was falling apart, and some rooms needed some maintenance etc.

As every year, we welcome 12 university students, at the beginning of September, they had an integration weekend lead by Benoît and Bonga.

Last week we began another De Mazenod Experience, in Spanish this time, with 11 participants and 3 animators from South America: Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Experience will end on November 8th.

Team of co-operators

Team of co-operators

The community does not miss projects for this year and the years to come. Fortunately, we have a small team of about fifteen people that we call “co-operators” who participate, in different ways, in the activities of our community, and help us to imagine and implement our projects.
We wish you a good 4th quarter of this year 2019.

Jo Bois OMI

Category: News

De Mazenod Experience in Spanish

Salvador Gonzales
Animators: Jaime, Edward and Salvador

Animators: Jaime, Edward and Salvador

With great joy and anticipation, the Oblate International Community of Aix-en-Provence is preparing itself to welcome 11 participants, from 10 Spanish-speaking countries, for the De Mazenod Experience which will begin on September 10th; a very special moment of formation and pilgrimage, encounter and sharing, deepening ones experience of the Oblate Charism in a place where it all began! Salvador Gonzáles (USA), Edward Terreros (Peru) and Jaime Dukowski (Canada) will be collaborating with the Aix community, for the animation of the Experience.

Animators with Aix community, during lunch

Animators with Aix community, during lunch

The main animator of the Experience is Salvador González, OMI, a Mexican, from California in the United States. Salvador met the Oblates as a child in his parish that was in one of the poorest places in the city of Oakland where he grew up. Talking about his Oblate background he tells us, “I keep many memories of my youth from the Oblates working with the poor and inviting us young people to serve the poor in our communities. My years of training led me to cross many borders, from the United States, to Mexico, and ending in Italy.”

Aix community with Animators

Aix community with Animators

As an Oblate, his main ministry has been preaching retreats in several oblate retreat houses in his home Province, along with prison ministry. Salvador also ministered in many Hispanic communities that do not have Spanish speaking priests. He shares with us that his wish for this Spanish De Mazenod Experience “is to be able to create a space for renewal, rest and prayer for and with my brother Oblates. Many of them come from difficult missions and ministries that eventually tire anyone. What more appropriate place to renew and rest than in the house of our first Fathers. My wish is that through this Experience all participants can feel loved and sent by our holy Founder Saint Eugene de Mazenod.”

We entrust this Experience, its animators and participants, to the intercession of our Blessed Mother and our Beloved Founder St. Eugene de Mazenod!

Bonga Thami OMI

Installation of a new superior

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Father Louis LOUGEN, Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, presided on 20 June 2019 at the installation of Father ASODO, new superior of the community of Aix-en-Provence.

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Father ASODO was born on July 14, 1974 in Semarang, Indonesia. He was ordained a priest on December 7, 2003. During the first years of his ministry he worked there in two different parishes in Jakarta. Then he became a formator in the Oblate scholasticate at Yogyakarta, where he was superior more than four years. He is part of the Community of Aix-en-Provence since the year 2013.

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Currently, the community of Aix is composed of five Oblates: Joseph BOIS (France), Mario BRANDI (Italy), Benoît DOSQUET (Belgium), BONGA MAJOLA (South Africa) and Father ASODO, new superior.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Community, News

A week in Aix en Provence

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It was a week full of graces. We discovered our Patron, places where he lived and his spirituality. We also discovered the beauty of Provence – said Wiola member of a Polish association whose Patron Saint is the Founder of the Missionary Oblates.

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The Association Saint Eugene de Mazenod was created in Gorzόw Wielkopolski in St. Joseph Parish served by the Oblates since 1945. This association aims to undertake initiatives for the poor among children, youth or the elderly. This being inspired by the example of life and the work of St. Eugene de Mazenod.

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The program of the pilgrimage to Aix-en-Provence were retreat, pilgrimage to the tomb of Saint Eugene in the cathedral of Marseille and dicovering Provence: crests of Cassis, la Ciotat, Roussillon,Notre Dame de Lumières, Luberon, etc.

The group of 18 members of the Association was accompanied by Father Piotre DARASZ, their parish priest.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mission, News

Feast of Saint Eugene de Mazenod

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Became Bishop of Marseilles in 1837, Saint Eugene de Mazenod worked hard for the development of the Church in his diocese. Not only to his own diocese, at the same time, he responded to the bishops’ requests from far distant lands by sending his Oblate missionaries to Canada, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Feast of this passionate pastor of Jesus Christ and unconditional servant of the Church is celebrated on May 21st.

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This year, the Oblate community of Aix-en-Provence celebrated this feast together with the Oblates who are here for the De Mazenod Experience Session from 11 countries as well as together with many members of the Mazenodian Family. The feast began in the Church of the Mission with a Mass in which the homily was preached by Father Bernard DULLIER, the author of the book “15 days of prayer with Saint Eugene de Mazenod” and many other publications. The feast was followed with a fraternal meals together in the Courtyard of the house.

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Feast of St.Eugene traditionally opens the novena for Oblate vocations which is going on until the feast of Blessed Joseph Gerard, Apostle of Lesotho, on May 29th. In the context of this novena, every evening, the community pray rosary everyday at 7 pm.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Mazenodian family, News

Perpetual vows of Patrick

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Patrick VEY took his perpetual vows on Sunday, April 28, in Hünfeld, Germany. Perpetual vows is the final commitment to the consecrated and missionary life in the Congregation.

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Patrick began his formation in missionary life in Germany, his native country. Then, he continued his studies in theology in Italy. Last year, he did an internship in the community of Aix-en-Provence. He is currently studying for a degree in Canon Law at the Lateran University.

Let us wish him for many graces for his studies and his missionary life.
May Blessed Virgin Mary be for him as an example for his oblation.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Community, News