Our founder, Eugene De Mazenod, refused to follow the established modes expected of someone born into nobility. From an early age, Eugene was troubled by the living conditions of the poor and their degraded status in society. When he became a priest, Eugene was not satisfied to accept the traditional role of a pastor serving a large, affluent parish. Instead, he sought out the poor laborers and preached the message of God’s love -- a message they had not heard before.
Born in France in 1782, Eugene lived amid turmoil in his country and in his family. Although he grew up with the privileges and luxuries of wealth, his family life was far from ideal. His parents came from very different backgrounds and they eventually divorced, a rarity for Catholics in the 18th century.
As the French Revolution grew, Eugene’s family was forced into exile, and at different times, he was separated from his mother or father for years at a time.
After years of struggling to find his place in life, Eugene experienced a conversion at the age of 25 and entered the seminary. He was ordained a priest in 1811. In 1816, Eugene invited others to join in his ministry to the poor and founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Since that time, thousands of Oblate priests and brothers have dedicated their lives to serving those most in need.
Efforts to have our founder canonized began in 1926 and were rewarded with his beatification in 1975. On December 3, 1995, Pope John Paul II canonized Eugene De Mazenod a saint and recognized his example of untiring dedication to the poor. St. Eugene De Mazenod’s feast day is celebrated on May 21, the day he died in 1861.