One of the most faithful OMI bloggers is Fr. Fabio CIARDI, Director of the General Service of Oblate Studies ( Here he describes the three day festival of the Oblates and their associates in Italy for the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Oblates.

700 x 200 do not equal 140,000 but they equal a great party! From all over Italy, 700 persons came together at Sacrofano, in the beautiful Roman countryside, to celebrate the 200 years since the birth of the Oblates.

There were three days of events, sharing of experiences, performances and prayers to thank God for having given to the Church this great charismatic family, which for two hundred years has been seeking to bring far and wide the proclamation of the Gospel, humbly and in simplicity of life.

A handful of Oblates were there and lots of lay persons that share the charism, the spirituality and the mission. In many, many parts of the world this year, there have been such celebrations and now it was the turn of Italy.

The arrivals themselves showed that we are part of a large family. We see some of them often and some of them we had not seen for years. But there was that immediate recognition, as if the same blood is flowing in our veins.

The youth were in charge of Saturday evening. They talked about their experiences in Cracow for World Youth Days; they sang their songs. No one pretended that the level of artistry was that great, but they are our young people and we feel at home with them; it felt like family, with a simple and real joy.

The highlight of Sunday morning was a conference by the historian and biblical scholar, Andrea Lonardo. We had invited him to speak to us to get a reading on St. Eugene and his missionary story from the point of view of an outsider, placing him primarily within his history time-frame. It was a beautiful presentation with a great effort to make the message current. His fundamental premise was the holiness of St. Eugene and his foundation: “Holiness is an essential element in understanding the faith. The saints are the genuine interpreters of the Gospel. There is no holiness without mission. Personal holiness cannot be separated from the holiness of others.”

Even the arts reminded us of our beginnings. In the evening, there was a musical performance of “Mite” and his band. The musical about the apparition in Lourdes, “Aquero” was just the right touch for the day, as well as a delightful impersonation of Saint Eugene and the missionary story of the Oblates.

But the celebration was not limited to thought of the beginnings. It was especially a sharing of the experiences of today, of a life that goes on, of the mission as it is lived by our people in their day to day lives. There were profound and intense moments of prayer, such as two hours spent in prayer and meditation, walking through woods bathed in the sun. At a given moment, the people began to remember, calling out the names of so many Italian Oblates they had known and who are now in heaven. We felt that they were again present and one with us.

May these 200 years become an encouragement to move onward and to carry forward the ideals of the beginnings.