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Year of Consecrated Life

Franciscan traditions trace back hundreds
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Oblates have close ties to Oakland diocese parishes

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placeholder  September 7, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 15   •   Oakland, CA
Year of Consecrated Life

Father William Antone, OMI provincial, left, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, watch while Father Ciaran Dillon, OMI, opens his gift from parishioners at his retirement party in July 2013. Father Dillon has returned to his native Ireland.
CATHOLIC VOICE PHOTO

Oblates have close ties to Oakland diocese parishes

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate were founded in 1816 by St. Eugene de Mazenod, who, with four companions, came together originally to preach missions. Oblates continue to preach missions across the U.S. but they are also active in retreat ministry, schools, parish and other ministries.

The first bishop of the Diocese of Oakland, Bishop Floyd L. Begin, invited the Oblates to the East Bay to assume responsibility for Bishop O'Dowd High School in Oakland, said Rev. Ron Carignan, the first Oblate to be assigned to the school.

 

Oblates of Mary Immaculate

Order name: Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI)
Founded: 1816, Aix-en-Provence, France by St. Eugene de Mazenod
Arrived in the East Bay: A house on Lenox Avenue in Oakland, April, 1954
Original ministries Preaching parish missions; later St. Rose of Lima Parish, Crockett; St. Mary, Oakland; Mt. Mary Immaculate, Lafayette; St. Rose Hospital, Hayward; Bishop O'Dowd High School, Oakland
Current ministry: Sacred Heart Parish, Oakland; Oblate Residence on Lenox Avenue, Oakland
Members in East Bay: 7
Members in province: 270
Members worldwide: 3,750
For information: Rev. Steve Conserva, OMI, 818-645-8307; sconserva@omiusa.org
 
"Bishop O'Dowd was an amazing school," he said. "The diocesan priests had established a wonderful school. They hated to let it go." The priests were needed to attend to other needs in the young diocese.

"We did bring a number of new features to the school including a music program with Rev. Leo Dummer developing a very good band. We brought in a counseling department and we developed a much appreciated retreat program."

The Oblates relinquished the school in the mid-1970s, when Father Carignan served as provincial. Rev. Paul Waldie was the last Oblate principal at the school.

In 1971 Father Carignan was asked to start an office of clergy education at the chancery office. "Rev. Dan Danielson had been fulfilling the role as director of the clergy education and Rev. Brian Joyce, who was chancellor had been handling the lay education."

The former provincial recalled that he worked closely with the Christian Brothers at St. Mary's College in Moraga "in developing programs to meet post-Vatican II needs."

The Oblates also took a turn at parish administration. The community served at St. Mary, Immaculate Conception Parish in downtown Oakland for 30 years. A number of "energetic Oblates" served as pastors including Revs. Jack Kelly, Paul Nourie and Tony Dummer," Father Carignan said.

St. Mary's also served as a residence for Oblate seminarians who were studying at the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley.

Over the years the Oblate provincial house on Lenox Avenue in Oakland, has served as a local headquarters and a center of leadership.

Rev. Charles Burns was the first provincial. The provincial office was later moved to San Fernando.

The Oblates also established a pastoral center in Lafayette in the early 1970s and administered St. Rose of Lima Parish in Crockett. Rev. Ciaran Dillon, OMI, who recently returned to his native Ireland, was the last Oblate pastor.

After a 30-year tenure at St. Mary's Parish the Oblates assumed pastoral care for Sacred Heart Parish in Oakland in 1991.

Rev. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, a leading theologian and president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas, is a frequent columnist in The Catholic Voice.

 
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