Founded after the French Revolution in 1816 by Eugene de Mazenod to work among the poor, the Oblates now number about 4,500 members throughout the world. Having arrived in Canada in 1841, the Oblates presently form one of the most important communities of men in the country. There are approximately 325 Oblates in the Province of OMI Lacombe Canada.
The Oblates in Canada are organized into three Oblate Provinces (administrative jurisdictions): OMI Lacombe Canada, Assumption and Notre-Dame-du-Cap. Oblates exercise very diverse ministries but above all seek to dedicate themselves to the poor and abandoned in urban centres, in Northern Canada and in other remote areas of the country.
Oblates also strive to work with ethnic minorities and aboriginals. One can thus find Oblates, in parishes, in missionary formation, preaching, social justice and pastoral ministries, or universities. Their work situates them throughout Canada, from coast to coast.
"No ministry is alien to us as long as we never lose sight of the main purpose of the Congregation: the evangelization of the most abandoned." ~ Oblate Constitutions and Rules Oblates also work in missions throughout the world, on all six continents. Working for the growth of the local churches, being in solidarity with their missionary action and providing various forms of support.
We are missionaries living in community
The term missionary, in the traditional sense, means someone sent to distant places to proclaim the Gospel and build the Church. Oblate missionaries can be found working in sixty-seven countries around the world. Oblates from Canada and more specifically from OMI Lacombe Canada have the option of being called to work anywhere the Oblate mission is being lived. Presently, we have members of OMI Lacombe Canada ministering in England, Latin America, Pakistan, United States and Africa with a special emphasis on Kenya. The work is challenging and exciting and we are proud of the good work of our Oblates – both canonical and lay – in developing and encouraging the growth of lively local churches.
However, the literal meaning of the term missionary is one who is sent. In this sense, we believe that anywhere an Oblate finds himself sent to the poor, he is doing missionary work. An Oblate working in the heart of downtown Vancouver or Toronto is as much a missionary as one in Igloolik, Nunavut or Meru, Kenya.
So, the Oblates strive to seek out, befriend and respect as sisters and brothers, the abandoned poor with their many faces: weak, unemployed, illiterate, victims of addictions, sick, marginalized, immigrants, minorities – not only the materially poor, but also those who are poor in spirit, those who do not know the name of Jesus Christ. Our mission invites us to a team approach, to collaboration with laity and other religious communities, to formation of lay leaders who will serve the needs of others, to become a part of the lives of those of others.