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.”

  1. 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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have known a few seminaries in my time – I knew men that went to them. All I knew about them was that they were seminaries – I did not know there were different kinds because it was not a part of my life in any way. It is certainly not anything that I have ever thought too much about or reflected on.

    It is the men who have entered the seminaries and the scholasticates that I have noticed and had experiences of. Even during my years away from the church I have always been very happy for the young men who chose that way of life, happy for the church and happy for them. It was not understood or a reasoning thing, simply a response of my heart.

    I look at the Oblates of Mary Immaculate and know immediately why I was drawn to them as a way of living for such as myself. What I saw/see is a community of men with emphasis on ‘community’ who love in a special way that excludes none and actually tends to include those who others do not even see, let alone include. They know forgiveness on an intimate level and live out of there. They are missionaries in the deepest sense of the word and appear to be more interested in loving than following the letter of the law for the sake of following the letter of the law, and they are not about appearances. There is about them a joy that I have not always witnessed in the same way with others and they are just as human and frail as I am. Of course part of all that are my perceptions and how open I may or may not be. And then there is the Cross for that is a fundamental and intrinsic part of …

    I realise as I sit here that I have strayed from what Frank has offered but it has been a huge gift for me – this has again led me to look at some of the whys and hows they are my beloved Oblates, clergy and laity – all. It is a heart thing.

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