Feast of St Eugene de Mazenod Reflection
Eugene de Mazenod was born in France on 1 August 1782. His educational progress was erratic until he encountered a priest who nurtured a deep sense of piety within him. His decision to join the priesthood only came some years later and, much to the disapproval of his mother who wanted him to marry, Eugene joined the seminary. He was ordained on 21 December 1811 and set as his goal to be a “Servant and Priest to the Poor”.
Recognising the need for guidance of the poor, Fr Eugene gathered like-minded priests around him. After petitioning to Rome, the order of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate was founded on 17 February 1826 with the motto, “He has sent me to evangelise the poor.”
Fr Eugene insisted on deep spiritual formation and close community life among his priests. His drive and enthusiasm soon saw him appointed Bishop of Marseilles, where knowledge of his zeal and influence became widespread. As the number of Oblates grew, he was approached by other bishops who requested priests for their own mission endeavours. Following this, the Oblates arrived in South Africa in 1851 and are now active in 68 different countries.
St Eugene died on 21 May 1861 at the age of 79. Even on his deathbed, he encouraged his Oblates to practice charity among themselves and to have zeal for the salvation of souls.
He was canonized by Pope St John-Paul II in December 1995.
Fr James with the late Bishop Barry Wood on the occasion of his Perpetual vows