What do I mean when I speak of the “Mazenodian Family?” It is an umbrella term referring to any person who is in varying degrees of contact with the charism of St Eugene de Mazenod. It refers to:
- the Missionary Oblate Brothers and priests,
- the Sisters, Misioneras Oblatas , in Paraguay and Spain,
- the Honorary Oblates, acknowledged for their dedicated service to the Oblates
- those who make a public commitment to make the spirituality of Eugene their own and live it as Associates, with various names and descriptions
- the members of Institutes of Consecrated Life whose founding inspiration was connected with Eugene’s charism
- those who support the Missionaries through their friendship, prayers, donations and service but do not live by a specific Mazenodian spirituality
- all those who contribute in any way to the Oblate mission, through employment or as beneficiaries and collaborators of the Mazenodian mission in our works or parishes,
- all whose lives are touched in some way by Eugene, like you, the reader of this reflection.
“Mazenodian Family” refers to anyone who drinks from the spring of Eugene’s charism and spirituality and, as a result, is drawn closer to Jesus the Savior and to the service of those in need. I find it more encompassing than the expression “associate” because it expresses the freedom of each category of person’s involvement and commitment. It thus leaves the name “Associate” to denote those who have made a public commitment to live their lives according to the charism of St. Eugene, and have made his spirituality their own. Thus we can say that all members of the Mazenodian Family are NOT committed Associates, but that all Associates ARE members of the Mazenodian Family.
The unity that the “Mazenodian Family” denotes is a continuation of Eugene’s ideal of one united family:
Charity for our neighbour is again an essential part of our spirit. We practice it first amongst us by loving each other fraternally, by considering our Society only as the most united family which exists on the earth, by rejoicing over the virtues, the talents and other qualities that each one possesses just as much as if we possessed them ourselves, in bearing with mildness the little faults that some have not yet overcome, covering them over with the mantle of the most sincere charity…
Letter to Hippolyte Guibert, 29 July 1830, EO VII n.350
“The charism of Saint Eugene de Mazenod is a gift of the Spirit to the Church, and it radiates throughout the world. Lay people recognize that they are called to share in the charism according to their state of life, and to live it in ways that vary according to milieu and cultures. They share in the charism in a spirit of communion and reciprocity amongst themselves and with the Oblates.”
CC&RR, Rule 37a