Notre Dame du Laus was the first establishment of the Missionaries outside of Aix and it was a Marian sanctuary: a place of pilgrimage and a place where people came for some days of retreat. Because it was our first, it remains the prototype for this ministry in the five continents of the Oblate world today and sets the direction.
It was first of all a place of “PERMANENT MISSION”. In other words, all that the Missionaries worked to achieve when they went to a town for a prolonged mission, they hoped to achieve during the short time spent by the pilgrims to the sanctuary. Sometimes in the space of a few hours!
The pilgrims came to honor Mary and to express their devotion to her. Building on this, the Missionaries, made the experience of being with Mary an opportunity to focus with her on Jesus the Savior. All our Marian shrines were to be Christocentric.
Basically the ministry of the Missionaries was to welcome the pilgrims, preach to them so as to focus them on Jesus the Savior, and then lead them to a sacramental encounter with Him.
Writing, from ND du Laus, to one of the members of his Youth Congregation, Eugene gives an idea of a typical day at the shrine, with the arrival of groups of pilgrims.
I am really caught, dear Adolphe; I had reserved today to write to you and to chat a little longer after having taken care of all the things I had to do, and it so happens that I haven’t a single minute.
Since early morning an immense crowd has gathered in this isolated place and told us that two processions were near.
That means two entire populations were coming here to pay their homage to the Blessed Virgin, according to their custom.
We had to go immediately and hear the confessions of these fervent pilgrims and then to preach in order to satisfy their ardor.
Letter to Adolphe Tavernier,2 July 1820, O.W. XIII n. 30
Our Rule of Life describes the Oblate mission: together with Mary all our activity consists of sharing Christ with the world.
Mary Immaculate…. received Christ in order to share him with all the world, whose hope he is. In her, we recognize the model of the Church’s faith and of our own.
CC&RR Constitution 10
“From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s Will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her Son and the Son of God!” Blessed Pope John Paul II