The St Patrick’s Fremantle was established around 1850, the third Catholic Community in Western Australia after St Mary’s Cathedral Parish Perth and the Benedictine community of New Norcia. Till 1894 the parish was served mainly by Diocesan Priests with the exception of the 1850s when it was served by a number of Benedictines who each came for a short time. Since 1894 the parish has been entrusted to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It was their first foundation in Australia and they have now been responsible for its pastoral care for 102 years.
During the shipping era Fremantle welcomed thousands of new settlers to Australia. Being close to the shipping terminal, St Patrick’s was visited by new arrivals thanking God for a safe journey and praying for their future in Australia. The early parish community was mainly Irish. From 1940 the new arrivals included large numbers of Italians, Portuguese and Croatians who brought a new multiculturalism to the community with their religious festivals.
Missionary Oblates Of Mary Immaculate
MISSIONARY OBLATES OF MARY IMMACULATE – bringing the Gospel to the Poor
Oblate Priests and Brothers give their lives to God by giving lifelong service to the human family. To become servants of the poor is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to build up His Kingdom.
In 1789 the Church in France suffered greatly as a consequence of the Revolution. Over 34,000 priests were either exiled or executed. More than half of the parishes were without priests to say Mass and administer the sacraments.
It was to answer this desolation of the Church that Eugene de Mazenod was called by Jesus to preach the Gospel. He became a Priest and began working among the poorest villages in the south of France. Soon other zealous priests joined him in his work. In 1816 de Mazenod established the group as a small religious community. In 1826 they were approved by the Pope and given the title Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The pressing need for Priests in other parts of the world meant that very soon they were setting out to bring the Gospel to the ends of the earth. They now number 5,500 Priests and Brothers and are serving God’s poor in 60 countries.
This photo was taken in 1943 outside of St Patrick’s Basilica in Fremantle, these sailors from six countries posed to create this unique picture. Represented are the Navies of Australia, America, Britain, France, Holland and New Zealand. Wartime and onshore mates, they sought and were given spiritual fuidance to help them through the dark days of World War II.
In 1894 the Oblates came to Australia from Ireland and established their first community in Fremantle. The Australian Province of the Oblates now covers also all the mainland Australian States and a Mission to China based in Hong Kong.
Oblate missionaries are working in eleven parishes in Australia; they are teaching in three boys’ colleges, and exercise a special ministry of outreach to youth. As well as organizing direct welfare assistance for the poor, they also provide university, hospital and prison chaplains to help those who are faced with special difficulties.
In 1994 the MISSIONARY OBLATES of MARY IMMACULATE celebrated a century of ministry to the Church in Australia. Part of this celebration was the commissioning of the Fremantle Icon in the Basilica of St. Patrick .
Since the humble beginnings, the face of the Oblate Province has changed dramatically both in the diversity of its works and its personnel. Originally staffed by Irish and English Oblates, today their proud legacy is to be working with a majority of Australian Oblates who have been joined by Italian, French, Indonesian, Chinese ,Polish and Indian confreres.
Fom a parish and school in Western Australia, the Oblates today work in every mainland State, with a Seminary, a Provincial House, 11 parishes, 4 colleges and a youth mission to the poor of the streets based in Melbourne and a number of centres in Queensland.
In 1971 the Australian Province founded an overseas Mission in Java. In May 1993 it became the independent Oblate Province of Indonesia. In 1990 the Province took over responsibility for the China Mission which is based in Hong Kong. Members of the Province are also working in the Missions of Kenya and Zimbabwe.