Our Mission and Ministries

Mission Statement

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of the Province of Natal, called by Jesus Christ to bring good news, commit ourselves in apostolic communities, guided by the Spirit to serve the Church in transition with a renewed response to the poor.

Missionary Activity

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Natal Province are involved in ministry in the Archdiocese of Bulawayo the Archdiocese of Durban and the diocese of Tarbes and Lourdes in France. We also serve the Church in Southern Africa through our ministry at St Joseph’s Scholasticate Cedara which has Oblate scholastics from six African Countries. St Josephs Theological Institute at Cedara has students from 26 countries around the world.

Our diversity of ministries to serve the poor and abandoned includes the following:

A. External Ministries

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1. Zimbabwe Mission: The Natal province is responsible for the Zimbabwe mission since 2001. 7 Oblates are currently working in this mission.

2. Parish Ministry: 32 Oblates involved in this ministry.

3. Education and Academic Ministry: 7 Natal Oblates work in this ministry. On the tertiary level we work at St Josephs Theological Institute (www.sjti.ac.za) in Cedara. On the primary and secondary levels we own two schools: Sibong'mbomvu at Cedara and Inchanga Primary school.

4. Healing Ministry: 5 Oblates including 3 full time hospital chaplains.

5. Retreat and Pilgrimage Ministry: 5 Natal Oblates are involved in this ministry.
Besides our work in Lourdes and Ntshongweni, we also run the Oblate Retreat centre in Redacres (www.redacres.org.za).

6. Youth Ministry: 2 Oblates are full time in this ministry and four others serve on the Oblate Youth Ministry Committee.

B. Internal Ministries

 

1. Vocation and Formation Ministry: 9 Natal Oblates work in this ministry
at St Josephs Scholasticate, Cedara; Mazenod House Bulawayo and Cleland.

2. Ministry to Retired and Sick Priests: 9 Oblates are currently retired. The province runs Sabon House, a centre for retired Oblates.

3. Administration: 4 Oblates are full time in this: two work at the Provincial House and two are Bishops: The Archbishop of Bloemfontein and the Auxiliary Bishop of Durban.

Current Priorities

1. The Mission to Youth
We see the youth as the category which is the most abandoned in our society today. In a renewed response to serve the poor we are prioritising Oblate youth ministry. Since 2005 we have established a youth ministry committee and developed youth ministries in music theatre, media, university and schools and programmes in youth leadership training.

2. Unity in the Province
Superficially, there are very good interpersonal relations between Oblates in the Natal Province. But the reality of our history and cultural diversity means that we need to build a more nuanced unity respecting the differences in cultural and social viewpoints yet seeking to work together in solidarity. Our aim is to continue to grow as a province with members from all races cultures and economic groups reflecting the demographics of our society. We want all to find a home amongst us and to be open to the differences that give us human and Christian richness.

3. Finance
The Province has severe financial problems especially relating to cash flow because of three principal factors, which are in fact good things:
1. Taking responsibility for the Zimbabwe mission which is unable to generate funds
2. The growth in vocations over the past few years.
3. Beginning a new youth ministry which requires finances to be effective
We are committed to grow the income of our province so that we can continue to serve the poor.

4. The Mission to Zimbabwe
The main task is to consolidate our presence in the mission, to actively support the missionaries there and to ensure an effective transition as Zimbabwean Oblates are appointed to the Mission. The first Zimbabwean Oblate was ordained a priest in January 2006 and another in 2007. We pray that in 2008 two more Zimbabweans will be ordained priests.

5. Formation
This is currently our fifth priority and it continues to be a priority for us because of the large numbers we have in formation. They are our immense hope for the future. Our formation programme is very successful and that is because we do it well. Our province currently supplies the Superior for the Cedara scholasticate, two other scholasticate formators and a full time spiritual director. Six others are involved in Prenovitiate work.

6. Restructuring of the South African Provinces
We have been participating with Northern Province and Central province in examining ways in which the three provinces in South Africa could be more effectively restructured. This is ongoing and our council is supportive of what has gone before.