Who are we?
We are missionaries. We began 188 years ago, on January 25, 1816, when Father Eugene de Mazenod and four companions came together to preach missions in Provencal, in the rural countryside of southern France. And currently, how many are we? Where are we? What do we do?
We are 4,440 Oblates in all - young men, old men, Oblates in formation, priests, Brothers! Of this total, 580 are in formation, having already made their first commitment. For the highest number in formation, the prize goes to Africa, with 165 young men in training. We are in the five continents. The branch planted in Aix-en-Provence thrived well: more than 700 in Africa, 1450 in Europe, 630 in Asia, 360 in Latin America, 750 in Canada, 480 in the United States.
And all these people, what do they do? We do everything. We are not specialized, except in facing urgent needs.... It was enough for bishops to come to our Founder and say to him: "I do not have anybody..." for him to act, re-examine his manpower, cut personnel here and there, and release 2 or 3 men for these new needs. And that continues today still. You see, it is a question of passion, of missionary concern....
Recent foundations? The last one is Guinea Bissau: a station close to one of our missions in Senegal. But there are also the working districts of Marseilles, Strasbourg or Cadiz; there is also Cuba, Turkmenistan, Byelorussia and Ukraine.... And then, the Missions of other times have now grown up and in their turn are taking on responsibilities: Haiti went to found in Colombia, among the afro-Amerindian; and Sri Lanka for many years expanded into India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.