Meeting of the Mazenodian Family – February 2016

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On Sunday, February 28, 2016, the community of the Oblates of Aix invited friends of the Mazenodian Family to go on a pilgrimage to Saint-Cannat. It is in this village near Aix where Fr. Tempier, friend and confidant of Eugene de Mazenod, was born.

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We gathered in the Church where Fr. Tempier was baptized. A simple and moving liturgical celebration reminded each of the participants the meaning of baptism and the mission of all the baptized. The figure of Fr. Tempier was evoked and accompanied this time of prayer.

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Back at 60 Cours Mirabeau, the members of the Mazenodian Family listened carefully to the memoirs of the event celebrated on 17 February by the Oblates: « on February 17, 1826, Pope Leo XII approved the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates as well as their Constitutions and rules. This decision, which confirmed the way of life of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and their recognition in the Church, was received with great joy. The next day, Fr. De Mazenod wrote to Fr. Tempier and the Oblates to announce the news ».

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Then, Fr. Krzysztof ZIELENDA read the letter of the Superior General which expresses his gratitude and compliments on the occasion of the bicentenary celebrations. Fr. Krzysztof also sincerely thanked those present for the work done, services rendered, their presence and support that allowed the success of the celebrations: « a group of friends able to live a common spirituality and to achieve things together ». He continued mentioning that « the fruits of this anniversary are already tangible, upcoming meetings, conferences and other pilgrimages that mark the jubilee year 2016 will further strengthen the bonds of the Mazenodian Family with the Aix community. Thank you all ».

The evening continued with a time of conviviality around a shared meal.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: Mazenodian family, News

Second conference of the Bicentenary

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On Saturday, February 27, 2016, in the series of conferences scheduled throughout this year of the bicentenary, Fr. Michel COURVOISIER OMI, gave a conference on Fr. François de Paule Henry Tempier. A number of people flocked in at 56 Cours Mirabeau to discover or deepen the character, personality and works of the one who was the friend and the very faithful companion of the Founder of the Oblates.

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This is Eugene de Mazenod, who in the fall of 1815, proposed to the young native priest of Saint-Cannat (a village near Aix), to join him and accompany him in the Foundation of the missionaries of Provence. Tempier soon became the man he could trust as his confidant, his advisor and really the “right arm” of the Founder. He faced with courage and dedication the difficulties encountered in the responsibilities that were entrusted to him: a new community from 1818 at our Lady of Laus, the burden of being Vicar General in Marseille, the direction of the seminary, training and accompaniment of the Oblates and even conflicts of Eugene de Mazenod with political and religious authorities of the time… In the shadow of the Founder, Tempier leaves the image of a missionary with a big heart, “effacé mais ô combien efficace!” forgotten but, oh how effective! This aspect was strongly emphasised by Fr. COURVOISIER. The Congregation owes a lot to Tempier!

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The cycle of bicentenary conferences will continue on Saturday, April 2 and will present the First Companions of Saint Eugene and Tempier: Mie, Deblieu, Icard, Maunier.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: 200 years, News

Living Lenten Season together

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Last Tuesday the first meeting of the youth group took place at the Oblate community house in Aix. As from now, we will be meeting every Tuesday evening.

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To fully live the Lenten Season, we have decided to live it together as a group of young people with the Oblates. These Tuesday prayer meetings will prepare us to visit the elderly, the sick and the disabled people bringing them Holy Communion during Holy week.

Why bring communion to these people? Because this can be for us a great missionary adventure! Inspired by the example of St. Eugene de Mazenod, we have a desire to live the Oblate charism, we want, during this time of Lent, to go towards the poor and the sick and bring them our help and our support in Christ! We do this being sent as missionaries together with the Oblate community.

How to prepare for this mission? The preparation is done through prayer and sharing the word of God. It is for this reason that we invite all the youth in Aix to come and join us every Tuesday as from February 16, from 19h15 to 19h45, at 56 cours Mirabeau.

Sophie VLAISLOIR

Category: Mission, News

Bicentenary – Exposition

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The Exposition organized at 60 Cours Mirabeau, in the same places where on 25 January 1816 the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was founded, is currently taking place as from January 26 to February 7.

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Two hundred years of missionary life among the poorest of the poor, the service of the Church and the proclamation of the Good News, cannot be summed up on a few very well done posters and very interesting videos and multiple souvenir objects brought from distant countries by fierce missionaries. It is the spirit of the audacious Founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, which blows and is strongly felt as the visitor navigates the various rooms of the Exposition: The dynamism of his early companions, who first went to announce the Word of God in the villages of Provence, the ardent faith which animated these young priests, dedicated to the most abandoned, to the domestics, to prisoners and to the unemployed youth, the confidence that inhabited these adventurers sent in 1841 to Canada and then to Sri Lanka and South Africa. It is this evangelizing impulse that shines through room after room in the cradle of the Congregation.

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A gathering in the Foundation room where it all began, a moment of prayer in the inner Chapel, a browse through the rooms, dense with memories, discovering the places where currently the International Community lives in the same missionary spirit that animated Eugene de Mazenod and his first companions, offers visitors an intense moment of discovery and emotion.

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Many school groups have already come to visit the Exposition and will continue to come and share in the riches of this Exposition that is opened every day.

The Expo is opened for visits daily until February 7 (except February 2) at 11 h to 12 h and from 15 h to 17 h.

Chantal BERNARD-BRET

Category: 200 years, News

Bicentenary Mass, celebrated in Aix-en-Provence

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During his homily at the Bicentenary Mass, celebrated at Saint-Sauveur, Cathedral of Aix, on January 24, 2016, addressing the Missionary Oblates, Bishop Christophe DUFOUR told them that, “a poor Church for the poor, is the road-map for New Evangelization”.

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At this celebration there were about 30 priests, many religious sisters and brothers, and a big number of the faithful, among them were those who came from very far, they all gathered around the Bishop and the Superior General of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to celebrate this event.

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The flute and the drum, specific features of Provençal music, accompanied some moments of this celebration of Thanksgiving for the 200 years of Oblate life. During the prayers of the faithful, one prayer was said in Provençal, the language of the local people at the time of Saint Eugene. During communion a poem, inspired by St. Eugene’s sermon during Lent of 1813 in the Church of the Madeleine in Aix-en-Provence, was beautifully sung. The celebration ended with a play, on the call of the first Missionaries of Provence. The play was prepared by the Frat Oser, a group of university students who live in the Oblates’ house in Aix.

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The Bicentenary celebrations begun three years ago by a program of spiritual renewal lived by the Oblates. This program was a call to return to the Oblate charism whose roots lie in the Foundation, by Saint Eugene de Mazenod, of the Missionaries of Provence.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 200 years, News

Bicentenary – Pilgrimage in Aix

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“My wife and I were privileged this month to be pilgrims following the footsteps of St. Eugene de Mazenod on this bicentenary of the founding of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. We visited places, important to the Oblates, in Paris, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, places significant in the life of St. Eugene”.

In the Chapel of First Vows

In the Chapel of First Vows

David and Ana were married in 1977 at St. Brigid’s Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas. Both Ana and David are members of San Antonio chapter of Oblate Associates, they recently participated, with 37 other members, in a pilgrimage in Aix “on the footsteps of St. Eugene”. They were accompanied by Fr. Frank SANTUCCI, David KALERT and Art FLORES. In this article they share with us their amazing experience of the pilgrimage.

Ana has always been interested in serving the poor in both her professional and private life. She is a full-time professor of Law at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. For many years she managed the clinical education program for law students, a program that provides free legal services. Additionally, she is chairperson of the board for Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio which provides undergraduate education particularly to seminarians and others who seek to minister to Spanish speaking population. On the other hand, David worked many years for the State of Texas. Since retirement he has been attending the Oblate School of Theology, first, in the Master of Theology program (he received his MA in May 2013) and now he attends OST taking one class each semester for fun.

Marseille, Old Port

Marseille, Old Port

According to David, “the highpoint of the pilgrimage was our visit to the OMI foundation house in Aix. We were warmly received by the Oblates residing in the house and truly made to feel welcome and at home. We were blessed to be able to spend a few days residing in the house where St. Eugene founded the Congregation. The rooms are lovely, kept warm this winter and the communal dining with the Oblates and comradery we developed with them was truly a blessing. We were honored and privileged to share in the life of the community, eating with the Oblates and participating in their prayer life at Vespers and Oraison in the evening”.

Ana shares in David’s sentiments, “I join in everything that David said about the pilgrimage, about our Oblate hosts, and the warmth we shared with our group. I add that in those few days St. Eugene has become a dear friend. My introduction to him began on arrival in Aix: our lives were very different and yet similar enough for me to seek him out and to feel comfortable with him”.

Ana finds herself in St. Eugene who grew up in an aristocratic family, being a spoiled young man and later as priest chose to be the priest for the poor, she tells us, “my youth was not as privileged, but close enough, and clearly spoiled. As a priest St. Eugene dedicated his life to serving the poor, I have been committed to social justice and practiced the option for the poor my whole life; of course my work is not as intense, personal, or committed as his”.

As for Ana, “Aix itself looked familiar, maybe a little bit like Mexico City. We entered the foundation house at the back, a large metal door hid the interior, and opened to a parking area. From there we entered the house, it was familiar, expected, especially the floors, the walls, the halls between the rooms and the garden. I felt at home, physically and spiritually. The Oblate priests were kind, welcoming and generous. The chapel was new, different, but prayerful and holy”.

the cemetery Saint -Pierre in front of the Oblate's vault

the cemetery Saint -Pierre in front of the Oblate’s vault

Ana was particularly struck by the stories about the Founder’s life, how strong and determined St. Eugene was: “he was formidable, as well as large. And yet, when the Holy Spirit led him to a path he had not intended or planned (mission, founder, bishop . . .) he followed with characteristic strength and love for the poor and marginalized. I heard these stories a little bit, but felt them a lot. I was not surprised, and I had expected to make friends”.

On the other hand, for David the apex of the experience, “was a directed meditation in the room where St. Eugene lived with the priests who were to establish the order with him. We felt his spirit and the zeal he felt for evangelizing the poor and those at the margins of society. The Charism of the OMI which is so carefully carried out by the many brothers who call themselves Oblates was palpable in the room. We were privileged to pray and feel that spirit while touching the relic of the saint’s heart. Many in our group left the room weeping”.

“On this pilgrimage we learned a lot about St. Eugene, and the history of the Oblates. We will always be connected to St. Eugene, to the upper rooms of the Foundation House, to Aix, from which the work and spirit of the Oblates flow. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate shared their home with us, and now it is in a way our home as well. We pray that this bicentenary year will yield great fruit for the Oblates and all they minister to”.

David BERRY and Ana NOVOA

Category: 200 years, News

Portrait of Father Deblieu

Portrait of Father Deblieu

The research done on the occasion of the Bicentenary of the Foundation of the Missionaries of Provence allowed us to discover the portrait of Father Jean-François Sébastien Deblieu, one of the first companions of Saint Eugene de Mazenod. It is really a great gift of the Jubilee, because until now the Oblates had no portrait of Father Deblieu.

Priestly ordination of Fr. Deblieu

Priestly ordination of Fr. Deblieu

Fr. Deblieu lithographic portrait was offered to the Oblates by Mr. Georges Eyssautier with the following inscription: “Great grandson of Leonie Eyssautier, born Deblieu, I offer this lithographic portrait of his uncle, Messire Jean-François Sébastien Deblieu, Canon Emeritus of the Cathedral of Fréjus, Pastor and Dean of La Seyne in the same diocese, one of the first and valiant companions of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Aix, to perpetuate his memory. December 6, 2015.”

Fr. Jean-François Sébastien Deblieu, was ordained a priest in Aix in February 1813, he was one of the first five companions of the Founder. He participated in at least 17 of 40 missions preached by the Missionaries of Provence. In 1823 he left the Congregation, but he remained a very good priest and occupied many important posts in the diocese of Fréjus, his diocese of origin.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: 200 years, House, News

Community week

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Between Christmas and the new year some go on vacation on the snow (when there is any!), others use this time to be with their family. Our community, works! Beautiful, isn’t!

We’ve taken this period of festivities to ourselves, to review the past year and to prepare the upcoming year.

From December 29 to January 2, we were able to review all the groups that will come to us in Aix in 2016. There will be some very important sessions, in which we are directly engaged: Youth Congress in March, Congress on vocations in July, Scholastics Summer Session in August, the De Mazenod Experience in French in September and October. There are also many groups coming from the four corners of the world that we have to welcome and accommodate this year.

During this period, we also took time to review our community life, our various commitments in the House and in the Diocese.

Exhausted but happy, we took Monday January 4 for a community outing in Nice and Éze, it was a very fraternal day spent with our Oblate brothers in Nice, it was also a touristic, beautiful sunny day despite the weather forecast!

Joseph BOIS, OMI

Category: News

Christmas Celebration – Frat’ Oser 2015

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The night of Thursday, December 17th 2015 was a beautiful moment for the Frat’ Oser and the Oblate community of Aix.

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We were Jean, Samantha, Etienne, Pierre, Luana, Juliette, Emmanuel, Jean-Pascal and Camille from Frat’ Oser and Frs Krzysztof, Jo, Mario, Asodo, Br. Benoit from the oblate community and also Fr Pawel from Poland. We missed Maxime, Priscille who had other activites and Fr. Bonga who is still in holidays with his family in South Africa. It was the Christmas celebration for us before the Frat’ Oser will leave for their family during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

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The celebration which took place in the community dining was started with an aperitif, followed by a short liturgical celebration. Camille read the announcement of the Birth of Jesus according to Luke. Each of us, then, took one figure of the Christmas decoration, saying their wishes, and one by one put it in front of the Christmas grotto. The celebration continued with a dinner together. It was present also among us Sophie, Jean Baptiste, and Timothy, from the group of youth who will perform a brief scene of the call of St. Eugene de Mazenod and his first companions in the 200 year celebration in the Cathedral of Aix on January 24th 2016. The dinner was so warm and fraternal. Finally, we ended with giving a simple gift for each Frat’ Oser and the youth as well. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Henricus ASODO ISTOYO, OMI

Category: News

General Committee of finance in Aix

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The General Committee of the finances of the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate chose Aix-en-Provence as a place to hold its last meeting of the year 2015.

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This meeting was attended by Fathers Marc DESSUREAULT (Treasurer), Peter FOLEY, Mauro CONCARDI, Chris PULCHNY, Tomasz SAJDAK and Alberto HUMÁN. The choice of the cradle of the Congregation helped the Committee to also live a spiritual experience marked by liturgical celebrations and the visit to the symbolic places of the Congregation in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.

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The Eugene de Mazenod International Centre, as well as the International Scholasticate of Rome, the General House and the General Administration, are part of the subjects whose finances are handled by the General Finance Committee.

Krzysztof ZIELENDA, OMI

Category: News