The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) were founded as a Religious Congregation in 1816 by a young French priest, Eugene De Mazenod. Eugene was born into a wealthy family steeped in the traditions of French nobility. As a child these traditions were shattered by the French Revolution and the young Eugene was forced to escape to Italy with his mother and sister to escape the guillotine.
Returning to France as a young man Eugene was stunned by the chaos and destruction he experienced all around him. In particular he was saddened by a society which had lost its sense of God and had forgotten the unique dignity of every human person. Moved by the plight of his own people Eugene became a priest and dedicated himself to those who found themselves on the margins of society.
Eugene quickly realized that in order to fulfill his mission he needed a certain amount of autonomy and so, with a small band of fellow priests, he formed his new Religious Congregation – approved by the Pope in 1826 as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Above all else Eugene was a man of immense energy, passion, vision and unlimited enthusiasm for his people. His desire to bring people to appreciate their dignity before God moved him to constantly seek out the poor and those who were in most need so that they might realize just how precious they are in the eyes of God.
One of Eugene’s statements has become the motto of our College. Speaking to a congregation of poor servants in 1816 Eugene passionately prayed that those listening to him might: “Learn what they are in the eyes of God.”
In so many ways this sums up the vision of Eugene De Mazenod –and the vision of Mazenod College.
In his lifetime Eugene became Bishop of Marseilles (France) and his “Oblates” numbered almost 500 priests and brothers. The Missionary Oblates work to continue Eugene’s vision in all five world continents and his message of dignity, hope and God’s unique love for us is being shared today with many millions of people.
The Oblates arrived in Australia in 1894 –just 34 years after Eugene had died. On 3rd December 1995, Eugene De Mazenod was canonized a Saint by Pope John Paul.