Blessed Eugene de Mazod
The Patron Saint of families with special hardships, Eugene de Mazenod was seven years old when the French Revolution erupted in 1789, spreading terror and death throughout the land. His family fled France, and Eugene did not return until he was twenty. He saw that many people had apostasized from the faith. He became a priest and set about rebuilding the Church in France. Though born of a wealthy family, he preached among the poorest of the poor and helped doctors and nurses in hospitals. He nearly died from typhus while working in a prison. He built churches, ordained many new priests and developed catechisms for young people.
Along with several other French priests, Eugene de Mazenod founded the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Their task was to work for justice and aid families in distress. Often they would travel on foot to the most remote parts of France to visit people in need. Said Eugene de Mazenod, "Their principal service in the Church is to proclaim Christ and His kingdom to the most abandoned."
The work of the order soon spread to other countries. In 1847, millions of people in Ireland were dying of famine. Eugene de Mazenod appealed to his parishioners for money to buy food for the Irish. Today, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate has 5,000 missionaries in sixty-eight countries.
Eugene de Mazenod was named Bishop of Marseille and served in that position until his death in 1861. "To love the Church," he said, "is to love Jesus Christ, and vice versa. Our mission is to proclaim the kingdom of God and seek it before all else."
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