Oblates of Mary Immaculate in China
The Oblates arrived in China (Hong Kong) in 1967. They built Notre Dame College and began serving at Notre Dame Parish. Until now they have been working in two parishes and three schools. Through work in parishes and schools they became known throughout Hong Kong and mainland China. The mission is sponsored and supported by the Oblates of the Australian Province and numbers 19 Oblates, working as an international missionary team.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Australia
The Oblate mission in Australia was begun by Irish and English Oblates in 1894. The mission in Australia significantly developed in 1926, when Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne requested the Oblates to preach in the east of the country. He entrusted the poor fishing village of Sorrento to them as a foothold from which to preach missions.
The 1950s and 1960s, saw an increase in personnel and so the Australian Oblates sent men to start missions in New Zealand and Indonesia. In the 1990s, Australia was asked to take on the mission in Hong Kong.
Currently, there are 42 Oblates serving in Australia. We administer nine parishes across the country, direct 3 boys' colleges and provide chaplaincy to hospitals, prisons, youth ministries, homeless ministries along with a variety of other services. The Province of Australia includes the Delegation of China and Hong Kong where an additional 19 Oblates serve.
Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Phillipines
The first seven OMI missionaries from the U. S. reached the Philippines on September 25, 1939, to establish a mission in predominantly Muslim and very remote Cotabato and Sulu provinces. Many of these first Oblates, only a few years after arriving, were prisoners of war under the Japanese occupation and three were killed. Since that time four Missionary Oblates have suffered martyrdom, including Bishop Benjamin DeJesus of Jolo – victims of the still-existing religious divisions in the territory.
The Oblates, released at the end of the war, returned to their missionary labors. These first Oblates and new arrivals from the U.S. and Ireland would travel by boat and by land for days to be present to God’s people living on the remote islands and in the surrounding mountains.
The population today remains Muslim in the great majority. This led to the establishment by the Oblates of more than 60 secondary schools, including today Notre Dame University in Cotabato. All the schools bear the name “Notre Dame”. Muslim and Christian youth attend school together, sharing friendship and dreams for a prosperous future.
Today, 85 years later, there are more than 100 Filipino Oblates who serve in the Philippines, the Thai-Lao Delegation in China and beyond. These include several bishops and Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, Archbishop Emeritus of the city of Cotabato.
First Missionaries from U.S. and those who joined them from Canada and Ireland
Oblates in Kenya
The Oblate Conference of Canada established a Mission in Kenya (OMI Kenya Mission) in 1996. Bishop Silas assigned the Oblates to establish and minister to the new parish of Kionyo. Today Oblate missionaries are in charge of three immense parish territories in the rural, largely deprived areas of the country. Youth ministry and formation, prison chaplaincy and justice advocacy are important priorities of Oblates and the people with whom we work. In addition to pastoral care the mission includes activity to enhance community resources.
When Missionaries come from outside, however, they often bring resources and new ways of doing things, foreign to the native ways; there is always a danger of creating a “dependence mentality”. To avoid this, material community projects require at least a 50% collaborative effort of local Catholic communities and outside benefactors. Such projects include water supply, medical clinics, school buildings, community halls, churches, as well as temporary emergency relief projects.
Our current Mission members number 14 Oblate priests and Brothers from Canada, U.S., Congo, Australia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and several native Kenyan Oblates. In addition, 12 young Oblates are currently in formation to be missionary Oblate priests and Brothers.
Oblates in Cameroon/Chad Central Africa
On May 4, 1946, the first team destined for this Cameroon-Chad Mission was formed. This new Mission was under the direct authority of the General Administration. This team of young Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate celebrated the solemnity of Christ the King for the first time in the territory entrusted to them on October 27, 1946 . Over the years, these poineer missionaries were joined by Canacian, Polish and Italian Oblates.
On their knees, they recited the litanies of the Sacred Heart and the consecration to the Sacred Heart to entrust their new ‘home’ to the Lord.
132 Oblate priests and Brothers currently serve in this Province of whom 47 are seminarians, preparing to be Missionary Oblates, here and in other parts of the world.
In short, during the past 75 years, our Oblates tirelessly proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ and gave rise to a people of faith. And those seeds they planted continue to grow today, extending to Nigeria and Chad. It is up to us today to “go out into the deep with hope”.
The First Missionary Team
The Youthful Province of Today
Oblates in Turkmenistan
Polish Oblate Father, Andrzej Madej, a seminary companion of Frs. Tremblay and Conserva, arrived in the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan twenty-five years ago. It was a strictly totalitarian nation, nominally Muslim but steeped in materialistic atheism for decades.
The Oblates began as a barely tolerated Catholic presence, serving a tiny community of Catholics, mostly foreign workers and diplomats. Over the years, the Catholic community has grown slowly, culminating last year in the ordination of Father Ladoslaw Zmitrowicz as an Oblate priest – the first Turkmen every to become a Catholic priest. This quiet witness to the faith, now led by three Oblates, has also borne fruit in open and much respected relationships with the officials and the citizens of the country.
The mission is sponsored by the Oblate Province of Poland and has been supported, spiritually and materially, by our U.S. Oblate partners and benefactors. The accompanying photos are of a festive gathering of the community with their OMI pastors.
Oblate Mission in Cuba
To incarnate ourselves in the people and the Church of Cuba – this was the first objective of the first missionary group of Oblates who arrived on the island on 15 December 1997.
The Oblates were invited to found their mission in Cuba as early as the 70’s of the last century, when Catholic missionaries were again permitted to enter this communist land. But for various reasons, it was not until 1995 that the new mission was entrusted to the Province of Haiti. On the advice of the Cuban bishops, the Mexican province also joined in this responsibility.
2014, new missionaries were incorporated to maintain the mission in Cuba. Father Roger Halle (USA), who 25 years ago, as provincial of Haiti, accepted to open the new mission on the island, came and serves here to this day. Father Roger is preparing to open a house of formation for newly recruited Cuban Oblates.
We work to continue sowing the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of the people of this beautiful island. We thank so many people, believers and non-believers, who have accompanied us throughout these 25 years, who have welcomed us and helped us to get rooted in Cuba.
Oblates Celebrate 25 Years in Cuba
An historic event took place on December 15, 2022 on the island of Cuba - the 25th anniversary of the arrival of the first group of Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Their objective then and today remains the same: “To incarnate ourselves in the people and in the Church of Cuba.”
The first missionary group was composed of two priests from Mexico and one each from Argentina and Haiti. After their arrival, the Oblates participated in an inculturation workshop for all foreign agents entering Cuba. The Oblates in Cuba had the joy of welcoming Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis. On the occasion of these three visits, faithful returned in large numbers to the Church and the Sacraments.
New missionaries were assigned in 2014 to shore-up the mission. Fr. Roger Hallee, O.M.I., from Waterville, ME, (provincial superior of Haiti), opened the mission in 1997 and Fr. Nicholas Harding, O.M.I. (who once served here at the Shrine) later spent a year there in support of the mission.
The Oblates owe their success in Cuba to Nuestra Senora de la Caridad del Cobre, (Our Lady of Charity of Cobre) patroness of Cuba, for protecting and sustaining her Oblate missionaries in Cuba for the past 25 years.