An impressive description of the Oblate outreach to the most abandoned:

Thus, at Aix, for example, besides the church that belongs to their house, where the members of the Congregation are attached offer divine service and every evening after prayer give an informal instruction to the people, they are assigned to give religious instruction to prisoners, hearing their confessions, something unheard of before, and when one of them is condemned to death, they accompany him to the scaffold.
Besides that, they do the religious services at the hospital for incurables, for foundlings, for charity and at the college.
At Marseilles, besides the service at the church and in prisons as at Aix, they instruct the people from Genoa in Italian and they direct the Major Seminary which is recognized as one of the best in France. At Nimes, besides the church services and the difficult missions in the Cévennes, which are sprinkled with Protestants, the Bishop has wished to assign to them the camp of 1400 condemned prisoners, a degraded group, who have some notion of morals and religion only from the time that they were confided to the charity of the members of our Congregation who, in this den of thieves, have worked true miracles of conversion.
Everywhere else the most difficult works of the holy ministry are entrusted to these religious, and if I am to believe the reports that the bishops testify to, they acquit themselves in a way that fully satisfies the solicitude of these vigilant first Pastors.

Letter to Fr. A Grassi SJ, 11 December 1830, EO XIII, n 76.

Our 2016 General Chapter certainly showed that this spirit of searching for the new faces of the poor continues today

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I notice that in each new area or city there were the basics, the foundations that were offered to all who lived there, while at the same time they [Eugene and the Oblates] were able to discern and see the needs that were different from one place to another – be it in prisons, hospitals, orphanages, schools; with immigrants, seminarians, condemned prisoners, the elderly and the sick, the youth, etc. And they did not do it alone, for Eugene himself was adept at calling in specialists – those who were better suited to help with specific needs, other religious orders to teach and nurses, etc so as to address all of the needs – both within his community and those they were serving. Before long Eugene would receive requests from the other side of the world where the needs were the same but how they looked was an entirely different matter.

    Today that spirit remains and that flexibility and ability to look and see the new and embrace all of it is what guides the Oblates today. They are not alone for they have intentionally and actively shared their spirit, their charism passed down from Eugene and those first Oblates and now with the entire Mazenodian Family which includes so many more than just religious – whose openness and love reminds me of Eugene’s heart. We share in our brokenness and our healing, with each other and with those we meet, serve, work and play with. This is how we go out and meet the world (and in a way all of creation) to share and receive, to walk with and serve. There is the centre which radiates outward, we are a part of that and of a few colours of the entire spectrum of life’s colours.

    I look at what came out of the last General Chapter (and indeed many of those before) and I find myself feeling humbled and grateful to be a small part of all of it. This is not a group or a people who are dying out, but rather a group whose face is becoming transformed so as to meet the new faces around the world. It is exciting and vibrant, just as is this new day that begins!

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