Our daily reflections will resume on 18 July.

I have a number of activities and commitments where I will not have access to internet. I look forward to continuing our reflections thereafter.

DeMazenod_200th_banner English

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We are a missionary Congregation…
Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring. These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Our lengthy reflection on the meaning of being a missionary congregation has shown the importance of the missionary character of our baptismal Mazenodian vocation. All of us are missionary disciples whose outlook and spirituality is missionary: like, Eugene, sharing with others our own experience of life and meaning.

Pope John Paul in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (in whose composition our own former Oblate Superior General, Fr Marcello Zago, had a hand) concludes our reflection on how sharing our spirituality is mission:

Our times are both momentous and fascinating. While on the one hand people seem to be pursuing material prosperity and to be sinking ever deeper into consumerism and materialism, on the other hand we are witnessing a desperate search for meaning, the need for an inner life, and a desire to learn new forms and methods of meditation and prayer. Not only in cultures with strong religious elements, but also in secularized societies, the spiritual dimension of life is being sought after as an antidote to dehumanization. This phenomenon — the so-called “religious revival”– is not without ambiguity, but it also represents an opportunity. The Church has an immense spiritual patrimony to offer humankind, a heritage in Christ, who called himself “the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6): it is the Christian path to meeting God, to prayer, to asceticism, and to the search for life’s meaning. (Redemptoris Missio n 38)

Edm mission

“Mission is the heartbeat of the Body of Christ”   J. Crampsey SJ

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We are a missionary Congregation….
Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Pope Francis captures the missionary heart of St Eugene and of our missionary vision today :

“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly ex­perienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples”. If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim him joyfully: “We have found the Messiah!” (Jn 1:41)…

Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?”

The Joy of the Gospel,

Eugene received the love which restored meaning to his life one Good Friday, and responded with a life of missionary discipleship. Here we find the meaning of our vocation today.

Edm mission

Benedict XVI take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

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When Eugene reflected on his conversion he spoke about having searched for happiness outside of God, and finding only unhappiness and frustration. When he looked at himself through the eyes of the Crucified Savior, he recognized his own poverty and emptiness, and received the Good News of Jesus that transformed him. From that moment he began to see others through the eyes of the Crucified Savior and understand their poverty, he dedicated himself to bring the Savior and His Gospel to these poor. It became his life-time focus.

Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.
These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

We can speak of circles of poverty for Eugene. Firstly, the Church, Spouse of Christ and Body of Christ, in her poverty and persecution – battered by the Revolution and by politics and some of the current philosophical trends and world views.

Secondly, those who were not being exposed to the Gospel as a result of the structures of the local churches and their scarcity of ministers and means. Two hundred years of Oblate preaching of parish missions, of outreach from permanent mission centers, of lay cooperators, and many other ministries aimed to bring the Gospel in more effective ways to these poor. Linked with this, was the reality that the majority of the persons in the second circle who were spiritually thirsty were materially poor and needy. Bishop Eugene’s ministry in Marseille was a non-stop series of responses to the cry of the poor in his diocese.

Then there was the circle of those who had never heard the Gospel preached around the world, and who had not encountered the Savior. We are grateful for two hundred years of amazing missionary zeal in over 65 countries.

Today, who are the poor with their many faces that I encounter each day? How can I look at them through the eyes of my Crucified Savior?

omi rule

“Look at the face of the other… discover that he has a soul, a history and a life, that he is a person and that God loves this person.”   Pope Benedict XVI

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On March 17 I had written: “Two hundred years have passed since Eugene and his first companions expressed their founding vision in writing and in actions. Today that initial vision continues to inspire us and is expressed in a special way in our Rule of Life, revised in 2012. Our first ten Constitutions capture the founding vision and the spirit which has continued to inspire us and be expressed for two centuries. I will share these with you in the coming days.” Since then we have been exploring this vision and spirit, and continue to do so now as we reflect on our mission.

Wherever we work, our mission is especially to those people whose condition cries out for salvation and for the hope which only Jesus Christ can fully bring.
These are the poor with their many faces; we give them our preference.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Fr. Fernand Jetté, Oblate Superior General 1974 – 1986), was a gifted writer when he reflected on our charism. As we explore our Mazenodian spirituality, let us reflect with him on this Constitution of our Rule of Life:

The preferential option for the poor has been with the Oblates right from the time of their founding.

Who are the poor, as far as we are concerned? According to the times, milieus, needs and particular sensitivities, some have tended to consider especially the condition of material poverty, while others looked upon the condition of spiritual poverty or neglect verified in one given group or another. In the case of the Founder, and traditionally within our religious institute, both forms of poverty have been taken into account; the second, however, has always been the specific element of our mission.

The Founder speaks of the most poor, the most neglected, the most abandoned and uses these expressions as pretty well meaning the same thing. He had in mind first of all the religious ignorance and often the spiritual misery under which these poor people labour. Most of the time these persons and groups also live in conditions that are materially precarious or miserable, which conditions emarginate them in regard to Christians who are more prosperous. These poor people are generally not reached by the Church’s ordinary ministry. To establish contact with them, special steps must be adopted, a certain distance taken from rich milieus, one has to strike out into unfamiliar territory, to learn a new language. Sometimes one also has to leave one’s own country, for the poor may be people living in far away places that are quite isolated or difficult of access, where few priests or missionaries can or want to go.”

F. Jetté,  OMI The Apostolic Man, p 60-61

omi rule

Luke 4:18:  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”

Luke 6:20:  Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”

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For the past six years “St Eugene Speaks” has been published in English, French, Spanish and Polish. Sadly, the person who was translating from English to French has had to stop suddenly due to bad health. The last translated text I have will be published on May 25. There are many who can only read the daily reflection in French, and have expressed sadness that the service is in danger of ending because they find it a source of spiritual nourishment.

Is there anyone out there, Oblate or member of the Mazenodian Family, who could help with translating from English to French? Ideally. it would be good to have a small team of volunteers so that the task is not too demanding on anyone.

The texts of St Eugene are already in French – so it would mean translating only my reflections from English to French.

Would anyone be willing to help? Many French speakers around the world would be grateful.

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A small digression from texts to happenings after the celebrations of these days! It has been marvelous to see with what enthusiasm St Eugene’s feast day was celebrated. Facebook was filled with pictures of celebrations from all over the world. St Eugene is clearly alive and well and loved by the members of his Mazenodian Family.

21 May 2In Rome, Eugene’s successor, Fr Louis Lougen, hosted the visit of Cardinal Joao Braz de Avis, the one in charge of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in the Vatican, under whose jurisdiction we are as religious. Pictured with them is our legendary 96 year-old Brother D’Orazio – still sparkling after a lifetime of service to St Eugene and to the missionaries on all continents. For over half a century he looked after the postal service in the General House (often slipping an encouraging memento or gift to the Oblates on difficult missions on their feast days). Naturally gregarious, he evangelizes countless people on his journeys across Rome on the busses.

More pictures:

Dan blessingIn San Antonio, we rejoiced in the priestly ordination of Dan Ziegler – a simple and powerful celebration. He received his first obedience as a missionary to Tijuana. Here he is pictured giving his first blessing to Oblate Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage Alaska, who ordained him in our chapel at Oblate School of Theology.

Here at OST the Oblates and the faculty and staff, are rejoicing in the priestly ordinations of our students at this time in several dioceses around us. The formation of priests was a priority for St Eugene, and he must be smiling at the ordination of three of these diocesan seminarians on his feast day, with several others to be ordained in the coming weeks.

As we give thinks for 200 years of Eugene’s charism, let us join in praying the beautiful novena for vocations – as is customary between the feast of Eugene and that of Blessed Joseph Gerard on May 29. It can be found at

My God, double, triple, multiply by a hundred my forces
So that I can love you, not only according to my possibilities –which are nothing—
But as much as the saints have loved you,
As much as your most holy Mother loved you and loves you.  
 (Saint Eugene)
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When Father Fabre wrote to the Congregation to announce the death of Eugene, he described this conversation which had taken place the day before his death:

 Bishop, one of us asked him, give us some words to pass on to all our brothers. It will make them very happy!

Be sure to tell them that I die happy… that I die happy that God was so good as to choose me to found the Congregation of the Oblates in the Church.

Bishop, would you reveal to us the last wish in your heart.

Practice among yourselves charity … charity…. charity… and outside, zeal for the salvation of souls.

Circular letter of Father Fabre, 1861

Tonight in San Antonio we celebrate the feast of St. Eugene in a special way through the priestly ordination of Daniel  Ziegler OMI. Some excerpts from an interview he gave to the OMIUSA website:

dan zWhen asked what it means to him to be an Oblate, he replied: “I think it’s more about who you are rather than what you do…especially as an Oblate priest…how we minister and where we minister is very important. Being Oblate has always meant being close to people… there’s a certain level of authenticity, of starting where people are at, and where I’m at. It’s an acceptance of our humanity.”

danHe also says he hopes God has some exciting ways to use his gifts. As he anticipates his first assignment, Brother Daniel would like to work with the poor, people in recovery, and with families. It’s pretty safe to assume that almost any assignment he receives will have some if not all of those opportunities.

The final question: “Do you think you can make a difference in people’s lives?” was answered with typical humility:  “I think God can make a difference in people’s lives…hopefully, I can facilitate that.”

Dan, the prayers of all those who read this daily reflection accompany you on this special day that, like St Eugene, you may be a joyful facilitator of the Savior making a difference in people’s lives!

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We are a missionary Congregation…
Where the Church is already established, our commitment is to those groups it touches least.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Fr. Jetté, reflects on the meaning of the word “missionary.”

“To be missionary” means to be sent on a mis­sion of evangelization: it does not matter whether one is sent to the foreign missions or to the home or parish missions. The missionary is a frontier man, one who is always intent on forging ahead, on going farther afield. Zeal, daring, mobility, availabili­ty are his characteristic traits! And obedience too: he receives the mission of another, the mission of the Church: he is a man who “is sent”….

Generally speaking, the diocesan priest exists and works within pastoral structures that are stable, in a parish, for example, or a directorship or chaplaincy; furthermore, he is permanently attached to a diocese which he cannot leave. The missionary, to the con­trary, is available for the Church’s avant-garde tasks or urgent needs, for evangelization work, both outside and within a given diocese…

F. Jetté,  OMI The Apostolic Man, p 60-61

Our former Superior General is reflecting on Oblate brothers and priests, but the whole Mazenodian Family is “missionary.” By virtue of our baptism we are all disciples, we are all missionaries, and if it is the charism of St Eugene that guides and molds us, then we are all “frontier” persons, ready to express our love for our Savior and to share it with those whose frontiers are the distance from knowing God’s love and compassion.\

Edm mission

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”   Henri Nouwen

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Where the Church is already established, our commitment is to those groups it touches least.

CC&RR, Constitution 5

Pope Francis in “The Joy of the Gospel” gives us  a powerful illustration of these words. I use a few of his statements for our reflection today. Had Eugene been around today, I believe that he would have written the same:

193   We incarnate the duty of hearing the cry of the poor when we are deeply moved by the suffering of others.

210   It is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability, in which we are called to recognize the suffering Christ, even if this appears to bring us no tangible and immediate benefits. I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others. Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all.

211  I have always been distressed at the lot of those who are victims of various kinds of human trafficking.

212  Doubly poor are those women who endure situations of exclusion, mistreatment and violence, since they are frequently less able to defend their rights.

213  Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us.

215  There are other weak and defenseless beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole.

216  Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.



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