Category Archives: 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

Community Trip to Poland

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Next year, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Poland will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their presence. This Oblate unit is now one of the largest in the world. Out of 960 Oblates in Europe more than 300 are Polish. The community of Aix made a trip to Poland to discover this country both near and far.

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The journey began at the foot of the cross in front of the Oblates’ church in Katowice which recalls the crosses of the parish missions erected by the Oblates throughout the land of Provence. Christ on the cross whose legs had just been broken by a vandal was the object of an affectionate worship of the many passers-by.

The first day consisted of two essential parts. In the morning we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps where more than one million and one hundred thousand men, women and children died during the Second World War. Of all victims, 90% were Jewish. In the evening, in the other hand, we celebrated Mass at the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, measuring how much God’s mercy is indispensable.

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The second day was consecrated essentially for a pilgrimage to the Częstochowa Sanctuary. We saw so many students of the last-year class, because traditionally, the months of March and April are a period where the terminals come to confide to the Blessed Virgin Mary before passing their final examination of the high school.

The third day was a trip to encounter the scholastics and their formators at the Obra Scholasticate. This house of formation which has more than forty young Oblates is one of the largest in the entire Congregation.

The old town of Krakow with its many churches and the Royal Castle was the last place visited before our return to France.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: Community, News

The Evaluation on the De Mazenod Experience

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Frs. Paolo ARCHIATI, Cornelius NGOKA and Antoni BOCHM, from the General Administration, came to Aix to make an evaluation on the program of the De Mazenod Experience (DMX) with the whole community of Aix. One of the questions came up during the evaluation was the follow-up of the participants after their return to the mission. For the community of Aix it was also the time of review of what the animators lived in the animation and the accompaniment of the participants.

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The DMX is a two-month renewal program that aims to give participants a time to re-read their experience of the Oblate Charism in their daily missionary life. The experience takes place in an atmosphere of prayer, reflection and fraternal sharing. In this program, the highlight is two weeks of silent retreat according to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius which usually takes place in a monastery.

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So far, there are 730 Oblates who have participated in 52 Experiences organized in Aix.The DMX are usually given in English, French or Spanish. However there were also DMX given in other languages: once in German, and twice in Polish.

For this year, the upcoming DMX in English will start on April 24 and another one in Spanish on September 15.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Celebration of February 17, 2019

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On February 15 (because the date of February 17 falling on Sunday), the Oblate Community of the Mother House, all united and surrounded by Fr. Jerome Velichor, the archivist at the General House, as well as many members of the Mazenodian family, celebrated in the Church of the Mission the 193rd anniversary of the recognition of the Congregation by Pope Leo XII.

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The sharing time began with a Thanksgiving Mass presided over by Superior Krzysztof Zielenda and followed by the renewal of vows.

At the end of the celebration, everyone gathered in the Suzanne room to discuss topics related to Mazenodian life. This time was first allowed Brother Benoit to take a package of answers for the second questionnaire distributed in December: even everyone did in their own way,but all those who responded said they were aware of to be called by Christ and showed by their testimonies that they live the Charism of Saint Eugene without being aware of it.

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One by one they shared their experience in some different groups or service in the life the community of Aix: Fraternity group, the Lenten and Advent Faith-sharing, the Sextius-Mirabeau, Lectio Divina, Animators of the Chants, Readers for Mass , Accountancy, and Reception. This part ended with a song to the Virgin Mary and concluded with the the prayer before meal.

Finally, all of them found themselves, as usual, around a meal shared from what everyone had brought in the atmosphere of great and warm fraternity.

Gérard SOLDAΪNI

Category: Mazenodian family, News