Oblates of St. Francis de Sales
|Motto||Tenui Nec Dimittam|
|Formation||21 December 1875|
|Type||Roman Catholic religious order|
|Father Louis Brisson—founder
Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis—founder
|Website||Oblates of St Francis de Sales|
The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales (Latin: Oblati Sancti Francisci Salesii, O.S.F.S.) are a congregation of Roman Catholic priests and brothers who follow the teachings of St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal. (The Oblate priests and brothers of St. Francis de Sales are affiliated with the Oblate Sisters of St. Francis de Sales.)
An order of cloistered nuns, the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, was founded originally by Saint Francis de Sales at the request of Saint Jane de Chantal in 1610. The establishment of an Oratory at Thonon, where Saint Francis served as the first Provost, was a preparatory step toward carrying out his design, the accomplishment of which was prevented by his death. With Saint Jane Frances de Chantal's encouragement and assistance, Raymond Bonal of Adge, in France, carried out his plan, but this congregation died out at the beginning of the 18th century. Two hundred years later it was revived by Mother Marie de Sales Chappuis (died 7 October 1875) and Abbé Louis Brisson, a professor in the Seminary of Troyes. In 1869, Fr Brisson established Saint Bernard Collège, near Troyes. In September 1871, Fr Gilbert (died 10 November 1909) joined him and Emmanuel-Jules Ravinet, Bishop of Troyes, received them and four companions into the novitiate.
Known officially as the DeSales-Oblates, the members of this religious order are of two states, clerics and lay brothers. They engage in a wide variety of areas of service. Oblates are apostolates of education, parish work and foreign missions. They also work as teachers at religious and secular colleges and missionary areas as well as serving in military, campus, hospital, and convent chaplaincies and in inner-city social work.
The postulate period lasts from six to nine months and the novitiate period from one year to eighteen months. For the first three years following first vows, the Oblates renew their vows annually for three years, and then, they profess their perpetual vows. The order is governed by a superior general elected every six years; and five counsellors general elected by the general chapter.
The congregation gradually developed in France. It numbered seven colleges and five other educational houses when the Government closed them all, 31 July 1903. The founder retired to Plancy where he died 2 February 1908. The Generalate was transferred to Rome, and the congregation divided into three provinces, by language family: Latin (France, Belgium, Italy, Greece, and South America), German(ic) (Austria, the German Empire and the southern half of its South-west African colony), and English (England, United States and the north-western part of Cape Colony).
Each province is administered by a provincial superior, appointed by the superior general and his council for four years. He is assisted by three counsellors elected at each provincial chapter, which meets every four years, at an interval of six years between the regular general chapters.
In the early 20th century they had the following membership:
The Latin province has a scholasticate at Albano Laziale. In 1909, the church of Sts. Celsus and Julian in Rome was entrusted to the Oblates. The novitiate for the Latin and German provinces is in Giove (Umbria). The Ecole Commerciale Ste Croix in Naxos (Greece) had about fifty pupils and the College St. Paul at Piræus (Athens) about two hundred. Four priests, stationed in Montevideo (Uruguay) performed mission work, running a flourishing Young Men's Association; in Brazil, three Fathers had the district of Dom Pedrito do Sul, with an area of 28,000 m² and a Catholic population of 20,000; the headquarters of the Uruguay-Brazil mission were at Montevideo, Uruguay. One Oblate was stationed in Ecuador, where before the Revolution of 1895 the congregation had charge of the diocesan seminary of Riobamba, several colleges and parishes. In 1909, a school for the congregation was opened at Dampicourt, Belgium.
The German(ic) province had a preparatory school of about forty students in the Village of Schmiding of Oberösterreich and charge of St. Anne's (French) church in Vienna, also the church of Our Lady of Dolours in Kaasgraben neighborhood of Döbling, Vienna, which is served by six Oblates. At Artstetten, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria gave them charge of the parish, in 1907, and assisted them to build a school. With the consent of the German Government, Cardinal Fischer entrusted the church of Marienburg in 1910. Several Fathers were engaged in mission work.
In Walmer (Kent, England) they operated a boarding school for boys, the chaplaincy of the Visitation Convent and Academy of Roselands and a small parish in Faversham. To this province belonged the Apostolic Vicariate of Orange River.
Oblates in Africa
When the Vicar Apostolic of Cape of Good Hope, Bishop John Leonard, heard that the Society of African Missions of Lyons had decided to recall its subjects from Namaqualand and the North Western Cape, he made a trip to Europe in 1880 in hopes of finding a Congregation willing to assume the responsibility of evangelizing these districts. Fr. Brisson sent five missionary priests in 1882, to fulfill Bishop Leonard’s request.South Africa Missions were founded in Matjieskloof in 1885, Nababeep in 1900, O’kiep in 1904, and Port Nolloth in 1904. Namibia Missions were founded in Heirachabies in 1896, Warmbad in 1907, and Gabis in 1907.
Oblates in North America
In 1893, the first Oblates priests came to the United States, serving chaplaincies in the New York City area. In 1906, the first English speaking province was established in Wilmington, Delaware. After early years of modest expansion, the American Province flourished during the 1940s and 1950s with many vocations from schools it conducted in the Wilmington, Philadelphia, Toledo, Detroit, and Niagara Falls areas.
In 1966, the American Province was split into the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province, which encompassed the eastern and southern states, and the Toledo-Detroit Province, which encompassed the central and western states.
- Bishop Ireton High School - Alexandria VA (formerly staffed by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales)
- DeSales University - Center Valley PA
- Northeast Catholic High School - Philadelphia PA (Merged into Father Judge after 2010 school year)
- Father Judge High School - Philadelphia PA
- Nativity Preparatory School - Wilmington DE
- Salesianum School - Wilmington DE
- Judge Memorial Catholic High School - Salt Lake City UT (formerly staffed by the Oblates)
- Lumen Christi Catholic High School - Jackson MI
- St. Francis de Sales High School - Toledo OH
- St. Mary's High School - Stockton CA
- "Oblates of St. Francis de Sales". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- The Oblate Wilmington-Philadelphia Province
- The Oblate Toledo-Detroit Province
- The Oblate German Province
- The Oblate Austrian-South German Province
- The Oblate Switzerland Community
- The Oblate Netherland Province
- The Oblate South American Region
- The Oblate Monaco Community
- Oblate Mission Asia
- The Oblate Namibia / South Africa Region