Category Archives: News

The opening of the Year of Oblate Vocations

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On Saturday, December 9th, 2017, the Oblates of Aix invited the faithful to celebrate together the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the inauguration of the Year devoted to Oblate vocations.

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At first, a time of prayer, all of us gathered in the Church of the Mission. During this moment, we are reminded of the words of Eugene de Mazenod, concerning the name of his Congregation. Indeed, on December 22, 1825, shortly before the Pope recognized the Congregation as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Eugene de Mazenod wrote to Fr. Tempier: “Let us renew ourselves especially in the devotion of the Most Holy Virgin, to make us worthy to be the Oblates of the Immaculate Mary … “then, on March 20, 1826, after the approval of the Congregation, he wrote again to Father Tempier:” Do not you think that it is a sign of predestination to bear the name of Oblates of Mary, that is, consecrated to God under the auspices of Mary, whose name the Congregation bears, as a family name which is common with the Most Holy and Immaculate, Mother of God? … »

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Fr. Joseph BOIS, then, transmitted the announcement of the Superior General of the Congregation that : the year started from December 8, 2017 be a “Year of the Oblate Vocations”. The theme is “Come and see” (Jn 1:39): Centered on the joy and generosity of our Oblate life. This Year of the Oblate vocations will respond to Pope Francis’ call for a year dedicated to “Youth, Faith and Discernment of Vocations”.

Fr. Asodo ISTOYO, then, presented the statistics of formation in the 5 regions where the Congregation is located: Africa-Madagascar, Latin America, Asia-Oceania, Canada-United States and Europe where currently 527 young people are preparing for the missionary life.

Bro. Patrick VEY, a seminarian who does his pastoral-training in Aix for this year, presented his formation since his first steps as an Oblate. He spoke of the different stages of his formation, his long studies, his various experiences of community life and apostolic life. Soon he will pronounce his final vows.

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As part of the Year of Oblate Vocations, Br Benoît DOSQUET made a concrete proposal: every 4th day of each month, he will go to Marseilles to pray on the tomb of the Founder. He encouraged members of the Mazenodian family to come along with him.

The prayer composed for “Oblate Vocations” was then recited by the whole assembly as the highlight and concluded with a song for Mary.

Then, the assembly was invited to share a fraternal meal in the Mazenod room.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: Mazenodian family, News

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

50th Anniversary of the Priestly Ordination of Fr. Joseph Bois

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Gathered in the Mission Church on Monday, October 30, 2017, many of Fr. Jo Bois’s friends came to participate in the Thanksgiving Mass celebrated on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

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Surrounded by his Oblate missionary confreres, Fr. Jo presided the Eucharistic celebration, full of emotion and joy.

The chosen readings were St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians “Building the Body of Christ in Unity” and the Gospel of St. John, “The appearance on the lake and the call to Peter “Do you love me?”, During the homily, the faithful listened attentively to the testimony of Fr Jo. He presented the main stages of his family, religious and missionary life by simultaneously projecting some photos to allow the assembly to discover and know what Fr. Jo’s 50 years of ministries were. His testimony was a beautiful message; rich in simplicity, fraternity and joy!

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All those who came to share this time of prayer and Fr. Jo’s gratitude, then gathered in the Mazenod room. There, around a very copious aperitif, everyone was able to thank Fr Jo and take part in this festive moment.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: Community, News

News from the CIEM community

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The end of the year 2017 is already on the horizon and we come to share with you some recent months’ activities of our community and the Eugene de Mazenod International Centre.

Since Easter, we have had four major sessions: two “De Mazenod Experiences”, one after Easter, in English, and another one in Spanish is currently underway, with Oblates mostly from South America as participants. During the months of July and August, three important groups followed one another: the annual 3-week Scholastics Summer Session, mainly for Scholastics preparing for Final Vows. Then a week with 45 young people who collaborate with Oblates in Youth ministry, from different European countries (GECO). And then a retreat of 20 Italian lay associates, members of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate (AMMI). The month of August ended with the annual retreat of the general administration (Father General and his 11 councillors and secretary).

GECO 2017

GECO 2017

Three community members of European origin have managed, with great difficulty, to take a few days off. For the other two (BONGA and ASODO), it will be in December and early next year, respectively.

Fr. BONGA, who finished his training in Lyon in June, left in mid-September for Canada and England to preach retreats. He’s been back, a week ago, and our community is complete again.

Fr. Roberto VILLA, who had come to replace BONGA, returned to his country, Italy, and is now responsible for the community of Vercelli.

In September we welcomed Patrick VEY, a Scholastic from the Central European Province, he is in Aix for his year of Regency.

The community during the recollection in Sufferchoix

The community during the recollection in Sufferchoix

Without mentioning all the visits, more or less long, numerous and varied. With the month of September, the “ordinary” activities have begun: the reception of 12 students, the groups of young or old who collaborate with us and all the activities related to our chapel.

At the end of November, we will all go away for our annual retreat, a week of Spiritual Exercises at a retreat house not too far from here.

We wish you a good and beautiful end of the year.

Joseph BOIS, OMI

Category: Community, 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

The Entry – Wekeend of the Fraternity Mazenodienne

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On September 8-10th,  the Frat-Mazenodienne gathered: Charlie, Clement, Clovis, Marie, Astrid, Martin, Mario, Agathe, Maxime, Camille, Vital, and Mary accompanied by Fathers Asodo, Krzysztof. and  Benoît, as well as an oblate scholastic, Patrick who just arrived in Aix.

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On Friday evening, the Community of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and we, the students of the “Frat” had found ourselves around a festive and friendly meal. It was the beginning of a weekend, which is rich in meetings and prayers.

We had the joy of discovering the charism of the Oblates, their history, and their place of life. The missionaries made us visit their house, the “Holy Land” of the Oblates, a former Carmelites convent where the history of the missionaries all begin. Thanks to their founding Father, Saint Eugene de Mazenod.

The Oblate charism is now spread all over the world, and we are lucky to discover it this year and to share it with them, in particulalry with the Spanish- speaking Oblates who have sessions here for two month. they are from all over Latin America!

The two highlights of the weekend are the opportunity to reflect on our spiritual expectations and the prayer. Prayer has brought us together, helped us to know each other as well as to discover the talents of each one!

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On Saturday night, we joined the group of the Mazenodians, a youth group who live the Oblate Charism. Five of them had met since Saturday morning in order to prepare their commintment.

On Sunday, the Frats and the Mazenodians animated the Mass, during which the choir was accompanied by Clovis with his guitar and Agathe with her flute! During this celebration, the five Mazenodians committed themselves for a year to live the Oblate charism. The Eucharist ended with a blessing for the Frats for the academic year that commence.

After an excellent aperitif on the church square, we closed this weekend with a good meal!

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We wish that by living in a fraternity we will be rich in encounters, in high moments, and in fully joy, which is animated by our faith.

Marie DELORT

Category: News

Commitment of The Mazenodiens

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During the weekend of September 9, the Mazenodians made their comeback by doing sharing and preparation for the animation of the Sunday Mass where the five of us made the promise.

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Sophie, Thibault, Jean-Baptiste, Maxime and Astrid, after a time of discernment and prayer, made the promise before God to serve the community of missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate for a year by deepening their faith, participating in the mission and living according to the spirituality of Saint Eugene de Mazenod:

« In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of the Holy Trinity, the Blessed Virgin Mary. I, passionate by Christ, by the Church and its mission, commit myself to participate in the missionary mission of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate for one year, to live according to the spirituality of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, to deepen my relationship with Christ in prayer and service to the poor, so that my testimony of life helps to discover God present in this world. I make this commitment to the community of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Aix-en-Provence, asking for the help of God, under the patronage of Mary Immaculate. So God help me. Amen »

The Oblates of Aix en Provence will accompany the Mazenodians during this year by organizing the various activities of the group.

Astrid Rousseau

Category: News

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

Retreat of the General Administration

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This year, CIEM summer activities culminated in the retreat of the General Administration community. It was given by Father Frank SANTUCCI.

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It was with a great joy that the Oblates of Aix-en-Provence welcomed the community of the General Administration who took a time of prayer before resuming the activities scheduled for the autumn. This retreat gave us, the community of Aix, an opportunity to meet the new administration, to share together a time of fraternity in prayer and recreation.

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The retreat master, Fr. SANTUCCI, was a former member of the community of Aix-en-Provence who currently teaches at the Oblate School of Oblate Studies at the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. This chair was founded to study and promote the charism of the Oblates.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 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