From 1818 to 1825, the Congregation bore the name of Missionaries of Provence. After the founding in March 1825 of the house in Nîmes in the Languedoc outside of Provence, the Founder gave his society the name Oblates of Saint Charles. Father Rambert wrote: “As a result, the title Missionaries of Provence was no longer appropriate; it no longer had any raison d'être. It was too restrictive. It would hem in too much the activity of a family visibly called by God to grow, to multiply and to spread. It even had the potential to have a negative effect on vocations and turn away candidates who, feeling the call to be missionaries, could not find in themselves the explicit will to dedicate themselves to the missions of Provence. Everyone in that little family had perceived and understood this. Also, when the Founder was on the point of leaving for Rome in order to petition a change of status from that of being a congregation of diocesan right to that of a genuine religious order, by common agreement, they resolved to choose another name. Initially, the title Oblates of Saint Charles surfaced among the majority of them. Saint Charles was, not only a model for the clergy, but also a patron of the beloved Founder. In addition to that, Saint Charles had been the centuries-old protector of the de Mazenod family. All eldest sons from father to son bore the name. It seemed fitting that the spiritual family of the one who was to bring to extinction the de Mazenod name should inherit, in order to perpetuate it, the name of Saint Charles.” (RAMBERT, I, p. 429) Father Rey added: “This choice [...] was ratified by everyone and, from the month of October , they felt duty bound to add behind their signature the qualifier, Oblate of Saint Charles. It was no longer the title of a limited geographical space; it was the name of a saint who reached beyond all horizons and opened up to the zeal of those under his protection the entire Catholic world.” (REY, I, P. 347)
This name appeared in most of the letters of recommendation of seven bishops written between September 26 and November 4, 1825, the time of Father de Mazenod's departure for Rome. It also appeared in a few letters and rescripts toward the end of 1825 and at the beginning of 1826. On February 17, 1826, it was officially changed to Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
DUVAL Paul-Émile, o.m.i., Première approbation pontificale des Constitutions et Règles des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie Immaculée [Documents ], Rome, 1952, 309 p.