Image courtesy of OMI World on Flickr.

The Church celebrates the Conversion of St. Paul each year on January 25. But for the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, this day has an additional cause for celebration.

On January 25, 1816, the Congregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was founded by St. Eugene de Mazenod. St. Eugene was the Bishop of Marseilles at the time, serving youth, prisoners, the sick – anyone deemed as “the poor.” The needs of this ministry were great, and St. Eugene knew that he could not possibly do all the work on his own.  To this end, he formed the Missionaries of Provence in 1816 – a group of priests who devoted themselves with great zeal to the goal of saving souls.  In 1826, this religious community was officially recognized by Pope Leo XII as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

So each year, on January 25, think of all of the past and present Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Pray for the souls of those who came before, who built the foundations of ministry for us today. Pray for the ones serving in your communities now, who work tirelessly to bring the Good News to the poor in St. Eugene’s footsteps.

For more information on the history of the Oblates, and general information about the Oblates today, please visit the Congregation’s website.