We wish to present to you our great Parish Patron. St. Eugene de Mazenod assists the Church as a missionary and Apostle of Christ. He is not only the inspiration and exemplar to the Missionaries Oblates of Mary Immaculate, but singularly to Parishioners who desire to follow Christ, taking the example from the life of this missionary of love.
SAINT EUGENE DE MAZENOD was born on August 15! 1782 in Ajx en Provence, France. His mother was of the French middle class, convent educated, and wealthy. His father was an aristocrat, classically educated, and poor. Eugene’s home life was plagued by constant family in-fighting, and his maternal grandmother and neurotic, maternal aunt never let his father forget who was responsible for the family’s wealth.
When Eugene was eight, he fled with his family to Venice, Italy to escape the French Revolution. Although he learned Italian and German from his everyday dealings with people, he received a good part of his education in Venice from Father Bartolo Zinelli who exemplified the beauty of religious life. Later, in Palermo he experienced a wild and worldly life among rich, young Italian nobles.
After the Revolution, his mother returned to France, but his father stayed in Italy, ostensibly for political reasons. Upon his own returned to Francein 1802 in an attempt to reclaim the family lands. Eugene tried to reunite his parents, but failed and they were divorced, an unusual event in the early 191h century. His often unsupervised youth, the constant fighting at home, and the eventual break up of his family led to his patronage of dysfunctional families.
For years, Eugene struggled with a choice between the worldly life of Palermo, and the beauty of the religious life he had seen in Venice with Father Bartolo. In 1805, in order to resolve his inner conflict, Eugene began teaching catechism and working with prisoners. On Good Friday in 1807 after a mystical experience in which Eugene was touched by the full force of the love of God, he entered the seminary. He was ordained at the age of 29, on December 215! 1811.
Because of his noble birth, Eugene was immediately offered the position of Vicar General to the Bishop of Amiens. He renounced his family’s wealth, and preferred to become a parish priest in Aix-en-Provence, working among the poor, preaching missions, and delivering the word of the God in the native Provencal dialect, not the French used by the upper classes. He worked tirelessly among the sick, the imprisoned, the poor, and the neglected youth of France.
Eugene inspired other priests and laymen to work with him and formed the Missionaries of Provence, conducting parish missions throughout the region. As word of their success spread, Eugene realized the need for a formal organization, and in 1826 founded a new order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, whose ministry was to go to people who had never heard of Jesus and his Church. Although he would have preferred to remain a missionary, Eugene knew that a position within the Church hierarchy would allow him to insure the success of his new Order. He eventually became Bishop of Marseille, France, in 1837, and Archbishop of Marseille in 1851.
On December 2, 1841, Bishop De Mazenod’s first overseas missionaries arrived In Canada. By the time of his death, there were six Oblates and over 400 missionaries working in ten countries. The Oblates continue their good work to this day with some 5000 missionaries in 68 countries. They staff missions posts, parishes and universities.
Eugene De Mazenod died from cancer on May 21, 1861; his body was exhumed and found to be intact. He was beatified on October 19,1975 and canonized December 3, 1995 by Pope John Paul II.
As the Oblate priests are responsible for establishing several Polish parishes within our area, it is only fitting that the latest Polish parish bears the name of their founder.