Wherever he was, and whatever he was doing, Eugene was always first and foremost an Oblate. It was as Oblate that he was a priest, and later he was first Oblate and then the bishop of a diocese. His Oblate identity gave him the direction and the guiding vision to fulfill all his ecclesiastical functions. It is a conviction that he constantly expressed right until his moment of deat.

Before coming out from retreat I must focus my ideas on the personal rule I must follow during the time, for my sins, I am kept in Marseilles. The thought that in two days’ time I must return to my exile fills me with dismay and I resign myself to it only with much distress, but since it has to be I will try to arrange things so that the fulfilling of one duty does no harm to the fulfilling of another.
Vicar General of Marseilles by necessity and under compulsion, I do not cease for that reason to be the head or rather the father of this Society all of whose members are models of every virtue;
I belong above all and principally to this family for which the Lord has given me so much love and which is for me constantly and so justly an object of admiration.
I may well say of these dear children like the mother of Maccabees that I do not know how they came to be formed in my bosom. Alas! They all have incomparably more virtue than I and I could well say I am not worthy to untie the straps of their sandals. How happy I count myself to be one of them! What thanks do I not owe to God for having given them to me. I will therefore always live in spirit in the most intimate union with them,

Retreat notes, May 1824, EO XV n. 156

Our Rule of Life urges us to continue in this spirit:

“Superiors, and all among us in authority, are called to service as men of faith and prayer. In humility and true obedience, they will seek enlightenment from God and from their brothers’ counsel. They should manifest the following qualities:
– a well-defined identity enlightened by the Oblate charism;
– a deep love for the Church, for the Congregation, and for the poor….”

CC&RR, Constitution 82


“Absolute identity with one’s cause is the first and great condition of successful leadership.” President Woodrow Wilson

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Ahh – the great and infinite graces that God gives to each of us as we live out our lives with him. I will not rewrite here each line that Eugene has written and yet each and every one of his words touches and resonates within. “How happy I count myself to be one of them! What thanks do I not owe to God for having given them to me. I will therefore always live in spirit in the most intimate union with them.”

    I am thinking this morning of God’s infinitely most perfect love for each of us. It is not measured or quantified. It simply is. It is hard to imagine such perfect love and yet there is within us, within me, that hidden place that is our essence, where we are one with God and that most perfect love. That God gives another(s) all that he is does not lessen in any way what God gives to me. Incomprehensible for my mind, I simply know it to be true.

    Through Eugene and his charism God has given to me a gift of the Oblates, and to the Oblates a gift of myself. I am not a priest or a brother, I am not a sister or a religious. I am a simply an ordinary lay person who loves God above all else. And how I live that out is as an Oblate Associate (by whatever name I be allowed to wear). The key word there is Oblate. If I am only allowed to whisper it then I shall whisper it with all that I am, and if I am allowed to shout it out then it will be heard by all who know me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it didn’t even need to be said, if by my life and how I live it would be instantly recognizable? Maybe some day, for I have seen it in others.

    I guess I am claiming myself here, who I am. I am given so much, how could it be otherwise? Throughout the day Lord, let me come back here again and again, to look at and give thanks for your giving me this great gift of love and life, for Eugene and a way of living that enables me to become who you have created me to be, for the fire within that fills me and allows me to share all that you are in my very living. Give me the courage to dare to say today that I belong above all – to you – and to my Oblate family as lived out as an Associate.

  2. Anda says:

    This just makes me feel sad

  3. Anda says:

    Of course I should have explained myself in my last post. The reason that this makes me feel sad in one sense is that although I feel a connection to many Oblates, Oblate associates, in my heart of hearts I know that I do not have an Oblate charism. And then I guess it comes down to a feeling of exclusion – that for many of us there must be a side that sees all these different groups and see the different groups as separating walls. It is not that I see Oblates themselves or Franciscans, or… as treating me differently… exactly… but as an “unfortunate” – that is not one of “us”, that doesn’t have our sense of purpose, unity, goal…. Perhaps an “us vs them” syndrom – on whichever side you find yourself (an US or as a THEM) and what I long to hear and feel is the unified all in one. Exclusionary vs unified. But that is, more than likely, simply being naive.

    • Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

      Oh my goodness Anda. No you are not naive. And it is certainly not meant to be exclusionary in any way. I shall speak for myself although I am sure that there are many out there who are a lot wiser than me and certainly more knowledgeable.

      I will speak to the charism first. I don’t know that any of us have or own the charism – it is after “the spirit of…” and it is all gift, it is all grace. We do know that with the canonization of Eugene the charism became a gift of the whole Church, no longer just the property (if I can be so crude) of the Oblates. It is something given to us, shared with us. I believe that God calls each of us to something special and then gifts us with ways to live that out. Each congregation, the Redemptorists, the Franciscans, the Oblates, the Grey Nuns of Pembroke – each comes most certainly with a love for the poor, but looking through a specific lens, focus (I could use all of you educated folks to step in here and help/correct me). For St. Eugene it was the poor, those most abandoned by the church structures – however that looks. A different flavor, or as Frank has been known to talk about a different symphony, a different tune. It is all music but the conductor changes as does the writer of the song, as do those playing the instruments, along with all who serve them. Sort of stretches Franks idea but there you go. The charism, the particular spirit of the symphony, the taste, the essence of it still with God as it’s base but different from another.

      Those of us who “share in the charism” share in the spirit of St. Eugene, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate – well we are all members of the Oblate family, of the Mazenodian family. But we are not all identical, and one is not better than another – we each live it out differently as we are called. First gift is the charism and second is how God calls us to live that out. For some it will be as vowed Oblates or as Oblate Sisters (Oblatas) in working for and with the Oblates, as members of MAMI, as friends, as members of the Oblate Partnership, or as Oblate Associates. I will speak only as an Oblate Associate. For me this is how I walk with the Oblates – it is intentional and for me it is very much who I am, who God calls me to be. It does not exclude anyone. If we go out further we are all Christians and we are all Catholics, etc, etc. I am also a member of the parish of St. Joe’s, as much a member as anyone else. And that community and family – they are a part of me as much as I am a part of them. We walk together. But I am not on the staff there. I am not a part of one individual’s family or anothers. And yet I feel very strongly that I am, we are all a part of the Body of Christ – in a very real and true sense. It is not just some “fluffy holy” words – it is real and lived. I don’t see the separating walls that you mention, but I think that is because I finally figured out where I “belong”. For me literally I had to stand still, alone and continue living at the same time until finally I heard God speak to me, and with me it was the invitation of Eugene de Mazenod, his words. The Oblates. So for me I don’t see that it is a matter of not “Being one of” or a different purpose or goal.

      Perhaps you are a member of the Mazenodian family in a way that is different from being an Associate – there are as I said many ways. I speak to it always as an Associate because that is my reality just as Jack for Frank speak to it as Oblate priests because that is their reality. Where do you see yourself, where do you find yourself? What is the connection you feel to the Oblates and some of the Associates? I really would love to talk with you about this, not just on a website. Any chance of you coming into town anytime soon?

  4. John Mouck says:

    But Anda is right, Eleanor. It (OMI) is exclusionary, even towards you. I wince at the term “Associate.” You should be able to say, as you feel, “I am an Oblate,” as should I, as should Anda, if that is where your heart is and how you live your life.
    Being a priest is a calling, a gift to men (men only, apparently and unfortunately) from God.
    Being an Oblate is a calling too; a way of living your life following and sharing in the charism of St. Eugene. The two don’t have to be connected and inter-dependant.
    However many Oblate priests are firmly rooted in the hierarchcal structure of Church and so to them, to be a true Oblate is to be a priest. Everyone else, although well intentioned, is a mere associate.
    It is kind of like being an immigrant to Canada. At first you are not a Canadian. You are just a Landed Immigrant and “excluded” from certain things. The difference is eventually that immigrant will be able to say,”I am a Canadian.” As things stand, neither you nor I nor Anda will ever be able to say we are an Oblate no matter how exemplary we conduct our lives.
    The good news is WE know and God knows and we get to hang around with some pretty awesome people on this journey TOGETHER.

  5. David Morgan says:

    I like John’s last comment about hanging around some awesome people eg Fr Roy, Fr Jack.

    What I find intriguing about the Oblates is that their ministry is ‘prophetic’ one vs a ‘sacramental’ one.

    The task of a prophetic ministry according to author Walter Brueggermann is ” to nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the dominant culture around us…Every act of a minister who would be prophetic is part of a way of evoking, forming and reforming an alternative community.”

    I find the Oblates refreshing but at the same time mysterious. Why does someone fell called to form an alternate community? Why do I feel attracted to this? Am I attracted to this? Well, everything is mystery. Perhaps this Oblate Associate thing is a mystery and will remain so. I feel called to mystery.

    • Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

      Oh David – I love what you have written here. Your explanation of what it means to be prophetic and also how you term it as being mystery. Upon reflecting, thinking about it, I have absolutely no idea of why God called me here, nor why I felt invited by Eugene to follow him. I know only that I am and for that I am oddly grateful. I want to repeat what Eugene said about “….what more glorious occupation ….” (although the glorious part is not usually evident to the naked eye). It might not suit others but it is a fit with me. I love what you said about being called to mystery. The image of that.

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