Category Archives: News

2017 Summer Session for the Scholastics

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The summer session for the scholastics (Oblate seminarians) is an important stage in their missionary formation. This year the scholastics who have come to Aix-en-Provence make up a community of 12 Oblates originating from 6 different countries: Haiti, Lesotho, Ukraine, Poland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The stay in Aix enables the young Oblates to become more familiar with the life of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and the history of the founding of their Congregation. It is also an occasion to discover and experience, through group work, the international dimension of Oblate communities.

During the session, the scholastics receive numerous teachings and visit places such as Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Saint-Laurent du Verdon, Barjols and others, where the Founder had lived and propagated his mission.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

Reunion of the Mazenodian Family on Sunday, May 21

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Members of the Mazenodian family, together with the Oblate community, gathered to commemorate their attachment to the Founder and his charism. This charism is what ignites to this day the mission the Oblates consecrate their daily lives to fulfilling.

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This date marks the return of Saint Eugene de Mazenod to the Father – May 21, 1861 – and was chosen as his feast day in the liturgical calendar upon his canonisation by Pope John Paul II on December 3, 1995.

This day has also revealed the strength of the ties between the lay people and their association to the Oblates.

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The 11 o’clock mass, celebrated by Father Krzysztof Zielenda in the Chapel of the Mission and animated by the young Mazenodiens was followed by friendly exchanges amongst parishioners and later a shared meal in the courtyard with members of the Mazenodian family.

Gérard SOLDAINI

Category: Mazenodian family, News

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

A New Cross in the Chapel of First Vows

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The placement of the new cross in the Chapel of First Vows was part of the celebration of the bicentennial of the foundation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. This cross, blessed on February 17, 2017, is a gift from the Oblats of the Assumption Province in Canada. Father Marian GIL, Provincial of the Assumption Province, recounts the story of this cross in the following words:

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“The Assumption Province was privileged to respond to the request presented by the Superior of the Aix-en-Provence community Fr. Krzysztof Zielenda to sponsor an Oblate cross for the chapel of First Vows. During our retreat in May of 2016, Fr. Krzysztof complimented our province on the renovation of the statue of the Oblate Madonna at the General House in Rome and asked if we would be able to sponsor an Oblate cross for the International Centre. After a few months of searching for an artist who would be able to make this cross according to their requirements we found an artist of Polish origin living in Mississauga, Canada.

Ted Swiatek, upon receiving all the measurements and the details concerning this project, began an inspiring journey with the Oblate cross. He looked at many Oblate crosses that we received during our perpetual vows, took pictures, measurements and the project was on its way. For the cross he used cherry wood and black walnut but to carve the corpus of Jesus he used basswood to make sure that all the details of Jesus’s corpus are done properly. He made the first corpus out of clay and then transposed all the details of this almost human size figure to the wooden corpus. The next phase was finding a stain and paint that would match the colours of our Oblate cross. Upon completion he said that the project took him almost three months.

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In September 2016, with the help of volunteers, we started to organize the shipment of the cross to Aix-en-Provence, which had to be properly secured in a large container. A few days before February 17, 2017, the large wooden box arrived at our Eugene de Mazenod International Centre in Aix-en- Provence. The size of the cross made quite an impression on the Oblates once the container was opened. The cross was then moved to the chapel of First Vows and a picture and message were sent back to us, saying that the Assumption Province can be proud of this cross, which looks beautiful in this chapel. This is a small contribution of our province to the place marked by extra ordinary events and life of not only our founder St. Eugene de Mazenod but many other Oblates. It continues to be a place of renewal and inspiration for the Oblates”.

CIEM

Category: 200 years, 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

The Mazenodiens at Mouriès

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Sunday, April 2, had without a doubt been a day of significance and fraternity for the young Mazenodiens. This day, both culturally and spiritually enriching, was spent in Mouries and the Vallee des Beaux. There, joined by local parishioners, the youth participated in the celebration commemorating the bicentennial of the March Mission of 1817, preached by Saint Eugene de Mazenod and his first companions, at a time when the region of Provence was still suffering the repercussions of the French Revolution.

In the church at Mouriès

In the church at Mouriès

During the Mass celebrated by Father CICCULLO and Father Krzysztof ZIELENDA, the youth from Aix, accompanied by brother Benoit DOSQUET, heard about the role of the parish missions. Moving testimonies of faith, fruits of the mission, were shared with the faithful gathered for the celebration.

The Mass was followed by a visit of the Abbey of Monmajour proceeded by a picnic in the company of our gracious host Mr. De SAMBUCY. The day continued with a visit of the Castle of Estoublon and the charming Beaux de Provence.

Before the Mission Cross of 1817

Before the Mission Cross of 1817

The mission cross erected at the entrance to the village, bearing the monogram, “M.P.” symbolizing the Missionaries of Provence, so dear to Saint Eugene, will have already served, two centuries ago, as a sign of renewal of the vows of the young Mazenodiens, ablaze with the same love of God and “mazenodian” charisma.

Alexandre MAHUE

Category: News

News from the community

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“No news, means good news”! It is often what we say to excuse our silence and sometimes our laziness!

The participants of De Mazenod Experience in French

The participants of De Mazenod Experience in French

The latest news is from the summer of 2016, a very busy summer as we had announced to you. The last quarter of the year was marked mainly by the two months of a session we call “de Mazenod Experience”. It was destined for French-speaking Oblates. There were 16 participants. The region of Africa was well represented (Madagascar, Cameroon, Congo, Senegal), but also the American Regions (French Guyana, Haiti, USA, Canada), without forgetting Vietnam and Europe. The two-week retreat took place at Notre-Dame du Laus, a magnificent and important place for the Oblates, as it was the implantation of our second community in 1818 and the opportunity to leave Provence and to open ourselves to the world. The Animators of this Experience were Frs. Jo BOIS (principal animator), ASODO and Roman TYCZYNSKI from oblate mission in Luxembourg.

Father BONGA with his parents in their visit to Aix

Father BONGA with his parents in their visit to Aix

In September, our General Chapter also took place in Rome, and one of us, Fr. BONGA, participated, not as capitulant, but in the liturgical animation team. He also left for Lyon in January to take a 5-month spiritual training course in the Jesuit center of Chatelard. To replace him, we welcomed an Italian oblate, Fr. Roberto VILLA, who has just spent 4 years in Lourdes and who is with us until June, on the return of Fr. BONGA.

In February 7th, Fr. ASODO learned of the death of his mother who had not been doing well for a few days. He was able to join his family and celebrated Masses with his family and friends. During the month of December, he was on vacation and was able to stay with her for quite long period.

Right after Easter, another de Mazenod Experience will begin, this one for English-speaking Oblates. The principal animator is Fr. ASODO but two others will come to work with him.

We wish you a good journey towards Easter, with a beautiful spring full of flowers and tastyfruit for your body, soul and spirit.

Joseph BOIS, OMI

Category: Community, News

An hour of friendship with Jesus

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Every Wednesday during the Lenten Season, the Mazenodians meet in the Oblate House of Aix for sharing around the Word of God in groups. Also, they bring communion to the elderly or the sick in their home.

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The Mazenodians want to live the oblate spirituality and participate in their mission by following the example of Saint Eugene de Mazenod.

In 1807, during the Good Friday service, overwhelmed by the cross of Christ, Saint Eugene de Mazenod discovered God as God of Love. By this moment he is always with God in a deep intimacy of every moment. The abstract and distant God has become for him a person, a loving and loved Father. He acknowledged that everything comes from him, free and without merit. After this experience, Saint Eugene see Christ as his friend, a friend who is always in his side, a tender but also demanding friend.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 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