By Christian Fini, OMI
(Provincial of Australia)

Recently, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrated the arrival of the Order in Australia and the dedication of St Patrick’s Fremantle as a Basilica.

The Oblates first landed in Fremantle in 1894, under the supervision of Fr. Gaughren OMI, the Anglo-Irish Provincial who was accompanied by two other priests, Fr. Daniel O’Ryan OMI and Fr. Roger Hennessy OMI. On the evening of Thursday 19 July, the three priests were welcomed to our shores by 350 people.

The 125th Anniversary is an opportunity to give thanks for the past, to acknowledge the many blessings in our Province today and to prepare for another 125 years of service in Australia.

To mark this special occasion the Province hosted the De Mazenod Family Gathering in Fremantle, with the theme ‘Respond with joy to our call to Evangelise’. Sixty-three people from all around Australia and from a variety of ministries gathered together. These were made up of 40 lay people and 23 Oblate Fathers.

Participants were asked to prepare for the Gathering with a community meeting within their state, followed by three online formation sessions based on the Oblate Charism.

The preparation program allowed for us to maximise the time together during the gathering and spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Oblate missions in the Province. The gathering also provided us with the opportunity to build and strengthen connections between the Oblate ministries and create an awareness of the vocational opportunities that exist within our community and ultimately creating a formal Oblate Lay Association.

The event provided the opportunity to share and learn from each other, to explore the recent vision and mission document developed by the Oblates and to address the realities facing the contemporary life and mission of our Church.

On the conclusion of the gathering, participants were asked to ‘Think Big’ and brainstorm on what can be possible now and into the future. A colourful array of ideas came to light many of which can be implemented in the short term and certainly some long term plans…watch this space!

More importantly, the participants left with a greater understanding of the Oblate Charism and a sense of renewed faith.

The weekend concluded with Mass at St Patrick’s Basilica commemorating the arrival, which was celebrated with the Oblates of Australia and Priests from the Archdiocese of Perth.