About the Oblate Youth Service

St Eugene de Mazenod


St Eugene de Mazenod The BoySt Eugene de Mazenod - The Boy

St Eugene de Mazenod was born in 1782 in Aix-en-Provence, France, on the verge of the French Revolution. His father was of the nobility, his mother from a rich family. At age eight, the young Eugene with his family had to flee in exile because the revolutionaries wanted to kill the children of the nobles. His exile lasted for eleven years. In Venice he was taken in by an exemplary family, the Zinelli's. "It was there that I discovered my vocation to the priesthood".

While in exile his parents separated. His mother returned to France with his sister to reclaim the family property and money and in so doing divorced his father. At the age of 20, Eugene returned to Aix as a very worldly young man and sought to re-establish the family fortune by marrying into wealth. He struggled to find a woman rich enough, and then, the women he intended to marry died. However through this time he increasingly lost his taste for the artificial world he found himself in and he was searching for answers to the many questions that he had.

St Eugene de Mazenod Young ManIt was on Good Friday, 1807, at the age of twenty-five, that Eugene encountered Christ in his own life in a dramatic and personal way and recognized him as his Saviour. "My soul was longing for its ultimate goal, God, the unique good whose loss l deeply felt.” Dormant earlier aspirations came alive.

St Eugene de Mazenod - The Priest

At the age of twenty-six, against his mother’s wishes, Eugene entered the seminary at Saint-Sulpice in Paris. His aim was clear: "to be a servant and priest of the poor." 

He was ordained a priest in 1811. The bishop asked himself what he was going to do with such a strong-minded and impetuous young aristocrat. He was relieved when Eugene asked if he could work with the poor and abandoned. He also worked with prisoners and preached in rural areas in the common language of the people. In 1815, he felt the need to have companions who would share his work, who would live in community with him, and who would commit themselves through religious vows. On January 25th, 1816, Father Eugene de Mazenod and four other priests consecrated their lives to God and went on to carry the Good News to the poor. In 1826, the Society took the name of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

St Eugene de Mazenod PriestEugene de Mazenod became bishop of Marseilles in 1837 and his influence extended not only locally but throughout the world. At the time of his death in 1861, his religious congregation numbered 417 members. On Mission Sunday, October 19th, 1975, Eugene de Mazenod was beatified by Pope Paul VI.

On December 3, 1995, he was canonized by Pope John Paul II and is now a man of holiness recognized by the entire church. St Eugene de Mazenod was a witness in his times. St Eugene de Mazenod, our founder, was an eloquent, principled, relentless, impulsive, generous, intuitive, and sensible man ahead of his times. On his death bed, he left to his Oblates throughout the world a humble spiritual testimony in these words: "Practice among yourselves charity, charity, charity, and zeal for the salvation of souls beyond."