In 1816, the Church in France was suffering the effects of the French Revolution and was in need of revival.
Responding to this need, Fr. Eugene de Mazenod
(1782-1861) called together a group of priests whose main purpose would
be to preach the Gospel to the poor working class of southern France.
Other priests soon joined the group and in 1826 they
received papal approval as a Religious Congregation, and the Oblates of
Mary Immaculate were established.
Fr Eugene believed that ministering to the abandoned youth in France should be the new congregation's primary focus.
Fr. de Mazenod eventually became the Bishop of Marseilles.
At his death in 1861, 400 Oblates were working in
Europe, Asia, Africa and America. Over the centuries, they have
continued St Eugene's work, serving abandoned and marginalised youth
throuhgout the world. Today, over 4,000 Oblate priests and brothers
work in 68 countries and can be found in every continent.