Works written or only published by Oblates (e.g. hymns for missions) have, since the beginning of the Congregation, been kept in the archives and library of the General House.
In the 1919 Missions O.M.I. a new heading appeared under the title Musée bibliographique (p. 159). Its brief note of presentation read: "In opening this new heading we take the liberty of inviting our honorable readers, and especially those most directly concerned, to please send to the editor of Missions at least one copy of all the books, brochures, reviews or newspapers, treatises or pages published by Oblates that more or less directly refer to the Congregation, its works and history..." (The same appeal was repeated in Missions of 1947 and 1948).
In his work Bibliographie des Missionnaires Oblats de MI. (1816-1915), which appeared in 1922, Father Marcel Bernad acknowledged that he had found in the General House archives a certain number of works written by Oblates; but he also confessed that he had to search in family publications, to have recourse to persons who might be able to provide him with information and to do a great deal of personal searching in order to establish a still rather incomplete list of books or articles written by Oblates.
His work, however, did spark interest for the collection of Oblate publications kept at the General House. The latter was augmented, especially after the General House had been moved to the Via Aurelia in 1950.
Encouraged by Father Leo Deschâtelets, Brother Alban Boucher established, in the spacious locale of the archives, a section that was labelled "Oblate Library" (cf. Diary of Brother Boucher, August-October 1950). This section was amplified in 1975 to accommodate the materials that were coming in more abundantly with each passing year.
By 1985, this area had become so filled that it had to be separated from the archives
This library consists of four sections:
1 Historical library (4000 titles)
This includes the books in the Founder's personal library and old works from the libraries of Aix and Roviano; there are also biographies and books on the religious history of France in the last century. This section has its own filing cards.
2 Oblate authors (about 3500 titles with filing cards)
This consists of books written by Oblates on any subject whatsoever: history, science, theology, etc. It also includes several hundreds of works relating to the Congregation but written by non-Oblate authors.
3 Publications of the General and provincial Administrations (about 2000 titles with filing cards)
The part reserved to the General Administration includes the Acts of General Chapters, the Acts of the General Administration, AROMI, circular letters of the Superiors General, the Constitutions and Rules, directories, Information, liturgical items (Oblate ordos, texts of feast-days proper to the Congregation), Missions O.M.I., necrologies, necrological sketches, obediences, personnels, etc. In this same section are placed some ten reviews or works published by Congregations that are especially linked to the Oblates: the Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux, the Apostoliques of M.I., the Oblate Sisters, the COMI, etc.
4 Newspapers, daily or weekly, published by Oblates in different Provinces.
In 1922 Father Marcel Bernad wrote: "Like the Apostles, the Oblates received the mission not of writing but of preaching. In this they have remained faithful: the number of missions and retreats they have preached far surpasses the books that they have written."
Bishop de Mazenod, however, had in 1831 asked the Scholastics at Billens that they acquire the skill of writing as well as that of speaking and he encouraged Fathers who had talents in this domain, such as Fathers Suzanne, Courtes, Dassy, Gondrand, Vincens, etc. A good many professors and learned men, preachers and linguists, etc., have followed the example of these pioneers yet remained missionaries all the while, that is, they continued always to strive always to evangelize the poor. In fact, we find many religious works translated into tens of Amerindian, African or Asiatic/Oceanic tongues. The Oblate Library is eager to keep these works on record, for they are the witness of the Oblates' work and zeal.
Yvon BEAUDOIN, O.M.I.