History


Beginnings

St. Eugene De Mazenod, O.M.I.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were founded in 1816 by St. Eugene De Mazenod, O.M.I.  This visionary had invited his followers “to live together as brothers” and “to imitate the virtues and examples of our Savior Jesus Christ, above all through the preaching of the Word of God to the poor.”  He urged them to commit themselves wholeheartedly to the work of the missions, binding themselves by religious vows.

Because of their small numbers, they initially limited their ministry to the countryside of France, while dreaming “to embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth,” as the founder had written in 1818.

Saint Eugene recognized early on that missionary work could not be a task for the Oblates alone.  He began inviting others to join the Oblates in their ministries by donating to the cause.  He began the very first Oblate mail campaign, a vital part of our mission work that continues to this day.

Oblates arrive in the United States

“The Cavalry of Christ”

The Oblates’ work in the United States began over 150 years ago.  One of their earliest missions was in Texas in the 1840s.  These Oblates were commonly referred to as the “Cavalry of Christ” as they rode on horseback through the vast Rio Grande region proclaiming the Gospel.  In 1903 the Oblates founded the San Antonio Philosophical Seminary – known today  as the Oblate School of Theology.

The Oblates’ presence in the United States grew quickly:  Three Oblates arrived in Buffalo, New York on August 21, 1851.  Bishop John Timon had requested the Oblates work with the people of the city’s largely immigrant and minority population.  The Oblates established Holy Angels Church – the oldest parish continually staffed by the Oblates in the United States.  They also established the Bishop Fallon Residence, a pre-novitiate house of formation.

Today the Oblates are involved in parishes, schools, retreat centers, and shrines throughout the United States.

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