Friday, October 27, 2023
DMX – an abbreviation for De Mazenod Experience is such a time of grace. This fall I have the blessing of participating in the English program of the de Mazenod Experience. In the program there are 9 participants and 3 animators. We come from all parts of the world: Canada, USA, Zimbabwe, South America, Sri Lanka, Philippines, India and Mexico. DMX is an awesome way to get back to our Oblate roots. It’s a rare opportunity to touch the walls of our foundation house, pray in the foundation room where Eugene and his first companions were forming the new congregation, where the spirit of our Oblate family was taking shape.
The program consists of various activities, all aimed to help us experience in a profound way the place and the ambiance of the birthplace of the Oblates. The Oblate Foundation House is a former Carmelite Monastery with stone walls and a clay tiled roof made of thick, red curved, terracotta, laid in a double or triple layer, set in mortar. It has rock and stone floors and stone sidewalks with narrow streets surrounding the building.
During the program we visited the places where Eugene was born and grew up with his family. It is a time to encounter many people and places. Aix-en-provence is a beautiful town, one is always surrounded by the conversations of people walking the stony streets, shopping in outside stores or enjoying coffee and croissants in one of the countless small restaurants throughout the neighbourhood. Ever present is also the sound of musicians and soloists playing and singing down the famous Cour Mirabeau Street at the end of which is found the Oblate Mission Church and our Foundation House.
Conferences and times of sharing are part of the program to help us learn more about Eugene’s life and to reflect on our missionary life in the light of our Founder’s life. The trips to the Old City of Aix allow to see and touch the walls of houses where the de Mazenod family lived, churches where our Founder prayed as a youngster and then preached the first missions in the language of the people. It was a treat to visit the nearby villages where the first missionaries proclaimed their first missions, and the chateau of St Laurent du Verdu where Eugene composed and compiled the first draft of the Constitutions and Rules.
Marseille, where de Mazenod served as bishop and from where he sent missionaries to all the corners of the world was also part of our DMX itinerary. We saw the buildings where Eugene lived, prayed, Cathedrals that he built, places where he met the people whom he served. It’s a memorable experience of grace filled time of encountering these places.
A blessing of the experience is also the time lived in the community with 3 Oblate priests and 3 Oblate Brothers serving the Mission Church, the various programs taking place here throughout the year, the young people living on the premises in the Frat de Mazenod family. These our brother Oblates are a treasure that forms itself in the Chapel of the Vows in daily prayer, celebrating Mass in the Chapel of the Mission being basically part of the building, sharing the Oblate charism and Oblate spirit with visitors and countless volunteers helping out in various ways.
Some highlights of this blessed time: The church of the Mission, the Foundation House, Madeleine Church where Eugene preached the first famous sermon in Provencal, Chateau in St Laurant de Verdu (the writing of the CC&RR) with the small village church, Barjols a place of the missions of 1818, Maximin with Basilica of St. Marie Magdalene and her relics there, Church of the Accoules, Cathedral with Eugene’s tomb, Shrine of ND de la Garde…..and many other places of smaller and larger significance in the life of St Eugene and the first members of the Missionary Oblates of Provance, then St. Charles and finally Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate.
It's an awesome time and life event. Do it if you can!
Fr Mietek Burdzy OMI / review and correction – Fr Daniel Janulewicz OMI