Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate are a Religious Congregation of men founded by St Eugene De Mazenod in 1816 in Aix in Province – Southern France. In 1852 the first four members arrived in Port Natal, as Durban was then known, to begin the missionary activity of the Catholic Church in the area and beyond. Nine years later they opened the first Catholic mission in Roma among the Basotho. By the end of the century evidence of their missionary activity could be found as far south as Umtata and Cala which lie in the Eastern Cape, Roma and Leribe in present day Lesotho, the Diamond Diggings of Kimberley and the Gold Fields of the Rand. Their first member died ministering to the typhoid patients in Bultfontein, near Kimberley, in 1871. When the law barring Catholic Worship in the South African Republic (later Transvaal) was lifted in 1872, their first organised missionary attempts focused on the areas of the gold rush, viz. Pilgrims Rest 1875 and Johannesburg 1887. The Transvaal Province of the congregation was established as a separate church province in 1886. Since then this province has been responsible through the work of its priests and brothers for the establishment of the Catholic Church up to the Limpopo River. Since the beginning of the century, 1900, many other religious Congregations joined them in the development of the Church in this area. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Transvaal Province exercise their missionary charism to all peoples of this region by bringing the Good News to the poor, as St Eugene intended.
To evangelize the poor of Southern Africa working for Justice and Peace among her people; and dedicate to place them in the care of Mary the Immaculate Mother of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The word 'Oblate' means "one who is dedicated to religious life and work"; we are, with the prayers of Mary Conceived Without Original Sin completely devoted to the spread of The Good News as Christian Catholics among the poor of Southern Africa and the whole world.
Pope Leo XII approved the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate on the 17th February 1826, and from then it spread from Marseilles first to Canada to Texas, Celon and to Natal.
Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II is well aquainted with the Oblates' who were instrumental in his education as a young man.
Several of our local bishops including Archbishop Thihagale & Hurley (Emeritus) and Bishops Khumalo; Risi & Hecht, have been Oblates. In the Transvaal Province our Provincial is Fr Sam Kataka.
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