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

“Les Mazenodiens” in Rome

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In the life of Les Mazenodiens (Oblate Aix youth group), February was marked by the trip to Rome where they were received by the International Scholasticate Oblate community. The encounter with Father Louis Logan, Superior General, was an important moment of this journey.

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Creating fraternal bonds with Oblate communities and young people working with the Oblates in France and abroad. The encounter with the Oblates of the International Scholasticate and the General House was a totally new discovery. The international dimension of these two communities reflect the universal and missionary character of the entire Congregation.

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In his meeting with Les Mazenodien, Fr. General encouraged them to rediscover the call to holiness, saying, “We need to check every day if we are still on the journey of Holiness.”

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The trip to Rome was also a discovery of the four major basilicas and a lot of other sacred places. Les Mazenodiens also took time to simple tour the eternal city.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

A Mass in the Mission Church

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“Do not be ashamed to say that we are Christian!” – Said father Paulin BEWA, Oblate originally from Chad, during his homily in the church of the Mission in Aix-en-Provence, on October 2nd.

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Are we witnessing to our faith in our everyday life? Today, out of respect for others, we say, we do not carry the cross, we do not have to show that we are Christians. We are Catholic Christians and we have Christian values to defend and pass on to the next generation. Let us not be ashamed to say “I am a Christian” – it is with these words that father BEWA called the faithful during the international Mass celebrated by a group of Oblates from 16 different nationalities.

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For nearly two months the Oblates of 16 countries participating in the Mazenod Experience, a Renewal session of the Oblate charism which is taking place in the cradle of the Congregation.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News

The bicentenary of the parish mission preached by Oblates in Fuveau

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In September 1816, the missionaries of Provence, who later became Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, preached a parish mission in Fuveau. They were four: Eugene de Mazenod, François de Paul Henry Tempier, Pierre Mie and Sébastien Deblieu. At the end of this mission Marius Suzanne, born in Fuveau, became a member of this budding community.

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This year, the Christian community of Fuveau took an initiative to commemorate the bicentennial of this mission and that of the foundation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. During Holy Mass on September 25, 2016, a commemorative plaque of the mission was blessed and sealed on one of the pillars in the Church’s nave. Another plaque was mounted on the  mission cross, planted on the edge of the road, “route du Nord”. The mission cross was erected during the 1816 mission preached by the Missionaries of Provence.

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After a shared meal at St. Mary’s school, the participants attended a road show on the life of saint Eugene de Mazenod and the missionary activities of his community.

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The day ended at the Church with a prayer led by the Aix Oblate community and 20 Oblates, from different countries, who are currently participating in the De Mazenod Experience session in Aix.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 200 years, News

The Fifth Bicentennial Conference

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Marie-Thérèse OTTAVIOLI gave a talk on Saturday September 10th in which she showed us the life and missionary work of the venerable Father Charles Dominique Albini.

Gérard Soldaini and Marie-Thérèse Ottavioli

Gérard Soldaini and Marie-Thérèse Ottavioli

Father Albini was born in Menton in 1790, into a family of “modest skill”. He was orphaned at the age of 15, he works voluntarily with his parish priest. He entered the seminary in Nice in 1810, studied philosophy and theology and shows “humble and charitable.” He will be ordained a priest in 1814 in the cathedral of Nice.

After a few years of idleness he works for a brief period as a professor at the Major Seminary of Nice.The young priest, Father Albini, met Fathers de Mazenod and Suzanne during a retreat preached in Nice in 1824 by the Missionaries of Provence. Impressed by the enthusiasm of the two missionaries, Father Albini request to join Eugene de Mazenod and his companions. So he did his novitiate at Aix and is committed to the new congregation with which he spends lavishly his time in apostolic activities. Thus, Father Albini will contribute to 16 parish missions. From 1827 to 1835 Father Albini, a professor at the Major Seminary of Marseille is very dedicated in missionary activities particularly among the Italians because he speaks the language. In 1835, he moved to Corsica, in the convent of Vico, where Mgr. de Mazenod agreed to send four missionaries under the direction of Father Guibert.

At the conference

At the conference

At that time, Corsica is a “true spiritual desert”, the clergy lack of training, moralities are relaxed, social life is disrupted … Father Albini preached the 12 missions, often in difficult conditions, together, reconcile feuds between families, calm the population. Some of these missions have been marked by extraordinary episodes or mystical character.

Died of typhus in 1839, Father Albini is recognized as “Apostle of Corsica”. Today he is revered at the convent of St. Francis in Vico where the community of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate lives.

The Confraternity of Father Charles Albini today holds a great devotion to this Oblate and strives for him to be canonized one day as a patron saint.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: 200 years, News