Eugene had come to Rome specifically to ask the Pope for an official recognition and approval of the Oblate Congregation. He had brought all the required documents with him to Rome. Now, in preparation for this meeting with the Pope, he had to draw up an official petition to present to him. It is an important document in the history of our development because is sums up synthetically what we were all about ten years after our foundation. I will present it in the coming days.

Most Holy Father, 
Father de Mazenod, Vicar General of Marseilles, prostrate at the feet of Your Holiness, has the honour of informing you that since 1815, after the Sovereign Pontiff Pius VII had made known his desire that missions be preached in France to the people who have been disorientated by the Revolution, he saw it as a duty to dedicate himself, with several chosen companions, to this holy ministry in the Diocese of Aix en Provence.

Petition for approbation to Pope Leo XII, 8 December 1825, EO XIII n.48

For Eugene, our existence was as a direct response to the call of the Church to serve those who had been distanced from God as a result of the Revolution, and who were the most abandoned in the ministry of the local church.

He is stressing that the founding of the Oblates was not his personal initiative, but a response to the call of God as expressed through the leader of the Church. It is the central idea that he expresses emotively in the Preface to the Rule:

The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Savior at the cost of his own blood, has in our days been cruelly ravaged. The beloved spouse of God’s only begotten Son is torn with anguish as she mourns the shameful defection of the children she herself bore… Faced with such a deplorable situation, the Church earnestly appeals to the ministers whom she herself enrolled in the cause of her divine Spouse, to do all in their power, by word and example, to rekindle the flame of faith that has all but died in the hearts of so many of her children.

Preface of the CC&RR

It is a conviction echoed in the very first Constitution of the Oblate Rule of Life today:

The call of Jesus Christ, heard within the Church through people’s need for salvation, draws us together as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

CC&RR, Constitution 1


“You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church.”   Joel Osteen

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    When I first met Eugene I was a little ‘dismayed’ at his incredible love for the Church. I was thinking in linear terms – there was the Church in my heart (which was sacramental) and there was the Church as buildings and an organization ruled by men, (it was this that I so often struggled with and denied). Now I find myself hard-pressed to give words to what the Church means to me for she is not quite definable, she is so much more than just words and cannot be limited by laws and borders.

    The “Church” – I have spent my time this morning simply reflecting on what that means to me. I find myself unable to truly explain and define her, who she is, this glorious inheritance purchased by Jesus, spouse of God, mother to us all. And we, children of God, are all a part of her. The deeper I enter into her, the more a part of her I become the less I am able to define and explain. Impossible to capture and limit with just a few words. She is, in a way like the Trinity, a mystery that is explainable only deep in our hearts and unable to limit with words. She is so much more than rules and laws. She is the Body of Christ, as we are the Body of Christ.

    Eugene’s words now echo deeply within me, perhaps because I have read and heard them so often, perhaps because they echo a sentiment that I am not quite able to give words to and his are emotive and evocative enough. I know that I walk away from this place this morning thankful for God having given us so much. To be gifted with, to be a part of the Body of Christ, this living Church – it is as Frank has written – “…it is the Church that calls and brings to life”.

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