Concluding the presentations on the significance of the Oblates taking over the running of the seminary in Marseille (and thus opening the way to become involved in seminary education throughout the world), Yvon Beaudoin gives some interesting figures on the situation.
“The diocese of Marseilles was territorially at that time the smallest diocese in the whole of France, but its population during the years of 1826 to 1861 rose from 150,000 to 300,000. This population was almost entirely Catholic and was served in 1826 by 171 priests, most of them elderly, and by 378 in 1860. The number of seminarians which stood at 70 in 1827, dropped to some thirty after the Revolution of July in 1830, then slowly climbed to some forty between 1840 and 1850 and thereafter fluctuated between 60 and 80. The Oblates saw about 330 seminarians pass through their hands and the two de Mazenods ordained some 300 to the priesthood.
The seminary of Marseilles played an important role in the history of the Oblate Congregation, not only because it was the first seminary directed by the Oblates but also because it received the Oblate scholastics, first as day students from 1827 to 1830 and again from 1833 to 1835, and then as boarders from 1835 to 1854. They were few at first, but numbered between 20 and 40 during the years from 1835 to 1854. About 225 scholastics received at least part of their formation at the major seminary of Marseilles and between 1827 and 1854 some 209 were ordained to the priesthood by Bishops Fortuné and Eugene de Mazenod.”
- Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary, http://www.omiworld.org/dictionary.asp?v=5&vol=1&let=M&ID=814
Pope Francis reminisces about the effects his seminary professors had on him:
“I entered the diocesan seminary. I liked the Dominicans, and I had Dominican friends. But then I chose the Society of Jesus, which I knew well because the seminary was entrusted to the Jesuits. Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline.” Pope Francis