OUR BICENTENARY: THE FOUNDATION OF THE OBLATES COMES FROM GOD

For nearly 25 years the French Revolution had attempted to destroy or control religion. With the definitive removal of Napoleon, the way was now clear for Eugene to put into practice his dream of establishing a missionary community to work at the restoration of the place of God in the lives of the most abandoned. Eugene saw a supernatural force behind his having finally made a decision to go ahead with his project. He says that it is the second time that he has been impelled by a force from outside of himself to do something – the first would have been his decision to radically change his Aix lifestyle and go to the seminary to become a priest.

Now I ask you and I ask myself how I, who have been unable to make up my mind in this matter, suddenly find myself setting wheels in motion, deciding to sacrifice my comfort and risking my fortune by setting up an establishment of whose value I am convinced but for which I only have a liking contradicted by other and diametrically opposed views!
This is a problem for me and it is the second time in my life that I am making a decision of the utmost importance as a result of a strong impulse that comes from outside of me.
When I reflect on it, I am convinced that is how God wants to put an end to my indecisiveness.

Letter to Forbin Janson, 23 October 1815, O.W. VI n.5

A few months’ later he founded the Oblates. As we recall this event, we give thanks with Eugene that God was at the source of our establishment and of our 200-year history as God’s missionaries.

Our divine origin remained a constant conviction in Eugene’s life, expressed even on his deathbed:

Be sure to tell them that I die happy… that I die happy that God was so good as to choose me to found the Congregation of the Oblates in the Church.

Joseph Fabre (Eugene’s successor as Superior General), Circular letter of 1861

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One Response to OUR BICENTENARY: THE FOUNDATION OF THE OBLATES COMES FROM GOD

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Of course the foundation of the Oblates comes from God I tell myself. What doesn’t come from God. I think that one of the biggest surprises to me is that in spite of myself and my many weaknesses, in spite of my being a lot like Paul before his ride to Damascus – God said my name, spoke to me in words that I have since found came from Isaiah (I thought it was original to me and yet even this discovery was as it should be). My name – said in a voice that cut through everything with the strength of thunder as its heard throughout the universe and with the whisper and gentleness of a feather as it falls from a wing and touches the ground.

    God then led me, with ties of love, so gentle were they and yet stronger than anything that could come from this earth, allowing me to run and play, to discover and seek out. Sort of like being free to discover myself and the universe, all from the safety of an embrace. Total freedom to leave that embrace but why would I? And then an even greater gift He gave me (as if it could somehow be measured). And in due time he introduced me to the Oblates of Mary Immacuylate – their words so touched me that I was drawn to them to look and discover. It was He through an Oblate who introduced me to Eugene himself. He gave to me the Oblates as gift! And in turn then gave me to the Oblates as gift. I had no idea how it would work! I could only put one foot forward in front of another and take a step, then another… My heart began to take wings, to soar through the skies of life higher than I could have imagined. It has been with the Oblates that I have been able to discover who Eleanor is in the eyes of God.

    I too celebrate with the Oblates for it is through them, through their community, through my relationship with Eugene that I come to discover and grow and be. It is easy to see God in all of this, in Eugene and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate – and it is from there that I learn to see God in myself. God is too foundation. Two bases to fly out from and return to. Gratitude fills me and rules who I am. It from this that comes Oblate – oblation. It is most perfect is it not!

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