On Monday, Jan. 25, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate reached a milestone in their history – the 200 years of their founding. The story of the OMI begins amidst the ashes of the great upheaval of the French Revolution which has had repercussions worldwide. It was an era when the Catholic Church in France was devastated and held in contempt and ridicule. Nevertheless, on Jan. 25, 1816 in Aix-en-Provence in southern France near Marseille, a handful of zealous priests headed by their leader Eugene de Mazenod committed themselves to serving the lost, the least and the last, bringing them the Good News of Jesus. That group of evangelizers, which later came to be known as the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, today has some 4,000-members worldwide. To know about the OMI and their 200 years, we talked to Sri Lankan Oblate Father Shanil Jayawardena, the director of communications and webmaster of the OMI here at the order’s headquarters in Rome. Fr. Jayawardena begins the first of a 2-part interview today, explaining how the OMI celebrated their 200 years in their mother house in Aix-en-Provence, France.
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