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Authority record
PR0003.003SF · Corporate body · 1901-1986

The Oblate Vice-Province of Mackenzie was originally established in 1901. Its predecessor, the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie, had been established in 1864, and encompassed the geographical area of what is now Alberta and the Northwest Territories. In 1901, the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie was administratively divided into two Vicariates along the 60th parallel. The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska (northwestern portion of what would become Alberta, south of the 60th) and the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie (northeastern portion of what would become Alberta and the Northwest Territories, north of the 60th).

Mackenzie included of missions and schools in a number of communities, including Fort Smith, Fort Resolution, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Fort Wrigley, Fort Liard, Fort Rae, Fort Norman, Good Hope and Peel River. In 1927, the District of Athabasca became an administrative unit of the Vicariate Apostolic of Mackenzie, and all areas west of the 113th meridian would become the Vicariate of Grouard. This included Fort Chipewyan, Fond-du-Lac, Fort McMurray and Fitzgerald. Chard followed in 1935 and Yellowknife in 1935.

In 1967, Rome abolished the system of vicariates of missions under the direction of Superiors, and all vicariates became Vice-Provinces under the direction of a Provincial. This elevated the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie to the Vice-Province of Mackenzie.

The Vice-Province of Mackenzie was both the civil corporation and the canonical entity for the Oblates in the north. Its administration consisted of the Vicar, later Provincial, and a council of four advisors that included the Treasurer, who advised on financial matters. The Council was drawn from Fort Smith or the south, one advisor from the central zone (Lac des Esclaves), one advisor from the lower part of the Mackenzie River.

The responsibilities of the Provincial administration was to manage the organization, the religious operations, and the financial aspects of the corporation, and to direct all the activities of the region that aimed to evangelize, to establish mission stations, elementary and advanced schools, orphanages, hospitals, and carry out other works of Christian charity, to erect chapels and churches. This included the monitoring of properties and investments, pensions and personnel finances, project funds, and funds used for training and material missionary work in the communities.

The Provincial administration worked closely with Roman Catholic Diocese of Mackenzie-Fort Smith to carry out mission work in regions of Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. The Vice-Province provided Oblates to support the work of the diocese, and the administration of the missions, parishes and the financial responsibilities for staff often overlapped. The Oblates also supported the work of the Diocese in administering Indian Residential Schools in the north. The Oblates also worked closely with the Grey Nuns of Montreal. Together, they opened and administered six hospitals, Fort Smith in 1914, Fort Simpson in 1916, Aklavik in 1925, Fort McMurray in 1938, Fort Resolution in 1939 and Fort Rae in 1940.

By 1948, the Oblate Congregation consisted of more than 100 fathers and brothers. By 1982 the Vice-Province of Mackenzie had three administrative districts: Fort Smith and the south, Lac des Esclaves for central and Inuvik for the north. The Provincial House in Fort Smith was the only property that belonged to the Oblates, other properties belonged to the diocese.

The Oblate Vice-Province of Mackenzie ceased to exist in 1986 when it merged with the Oblate Vice-Province of Grouard and the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan to form Grandin Province.

Superiors, Vicariate of Mackenzie:

  • Gabriel Breynat (1901-1943)
  • Joseph Trocellier (1943-1950)
  • Jean-Louis Michel (1950-1956)
  • Robert Haramburu (1956-1962)
  • Lucien Casterman (1962-1966)

Provincials, Vice-Province of Mackenzie:

-Lucien Casterman (1967-1971)

  • Gilles Mousseau (1971-1980)
  • Jean Porte (1980-1985)
PR0003.004SF · Corporate body · 1901-1986

The Oblate Vice-Province of Grouard was established in 1901 as part of the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska. The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie had been established in 1864, and encompassed the geographical area of what is now Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie was administratively divided along the 60th parallel, into the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska (Northwestern part of Alberta) and the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie (Northeastern part of Alberta and the Northwest Territories). The Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska had three regions: Athabaska District (including Fort Chipewyan and Fond-du-Lac), Lesser Slave Lake – St. Bernard’s as Center (called Grouard since 1909), and the Peace River District.

In 1927, the District of Athabaska was moved to the Vicariate of Missions of Mackenzie, and the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska became the Vicariate of Missions of Grouard. Mackenzie would administer the Athabaska district and Grouard, all areas east of the 113th meridian. The Vicariate of Grouard included Hay Lake, Fort Vermilion, Peace River, Fairview, Fort Dunvegan, Spirit River, Tangent, Grande-Prairie, Guy, Atikameg, Girouxville, Falher, McLennan, Grouard, Slave Lake, Wabaska and Desmarais until 1948.

In 1967, Rome abolished the system of vicariates of missions under the direction of Superiors, and all vicariates became Vice-Provinces under the direction of a Provincial. This elevated the Vicariate of Missions of Grouard to the Vice-Province of Grouard.

The Vice-Province of Grouard was both the civil corporation and the canonical entity for the Oblates in the northern regions of Alberta. Its administration consisted of the Superior / Vicar, later Provincial, and a council of four advisors that included the Treasurer, who advised on financial matters, with committees for support as needed.

The responsibilities of the Provincial administration was to manage the administration, the religious operations, and the financial aspects of the corporation, and to direct all the activities of the region that aimed to evangelize, to establish mission stations, elementary and advanced schools, orphanages, hospitals, and carry out other works of Christian charity, to erect chapels and churches. This included the monitoring of properties and investments, pensions and personnel finances, project funds, and funds used for training and material missionary work in the communities.

The Provincial Administration worked closely with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grouard-McLennan to carry out mission work in the territory that spanned 250,000 square kilometers. The superiors of the Vicariate often at the same time served as the bishop of the Diocese. The Vice-Province provided Oblates to support the work of the Diocese, and the administration of the missions, parishes and the financial responsibilities for staff often overlapped. The Oblates also supported the work of the Diocese in administering its seven Indian Residential Schools.

By the 1970s, the Oblates would carry out their missionary work under an agreement with the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Diocese, and financial affairs and property ownership were also separated in the 1970s.

The Provincial was also responsible for overseeing the administration of the various Oblate institutions in the Vice-Province, including the Centre Notre-Dame de la Paix, the Notre-Dame Collège (closed 1971), the Provincial House, the museum, and the pilgrimage grounds in Girouxville, and the Kisemanito Centre in Grouard.

By 1982, the Vice-Province of Grouard had four administrative districts based on geographic representation: The west sector contained Spirit-River, Eaglesham, Girouxville, Falher, and Jean-Côté. The central sector consisted of McLennan, Donnelly, Guy, Calais and Valleyview. The northern sector was comprised of Assumption, Meander-River, Fort-Vermilion and High Level, and the eastern sector consisted of Trout Lake, Wabasca, Smith, Slave Lake, Faust, Joussard, High Prairie, Gift Lake and Grouard.

The Oblate Vice-Province of Grouard ceased to exist in 1986 when it merged with the Oblate Vice-Province of Mackenzie and the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan to form Grandin Province.

Superiors, Vicariate of Grouard:

  • Emile Grouard (1901-1930)
  • Jules Calais (1930-1932)
  • Joseph Guy (1932-1938)
  • Ubald Langlois (1938-1944)
  • Henri Routhier (1944-1950)
  • Armand Boucher (1950-1956)
  • Marjorique Lavigne (1956-1965)
  • Jean Marsan (1965-1966)

Provincials, Vice-Province of Grouard:

  • Jean Marsan (1967-1973))
  • René Bélanger (1973-1979)
  • Clément Richer (1979-1985)
PR0003.002SF · Corporate body · 1921-1986

The Oblate Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan was created on January 20th, 1921, from the Vicariate of Missions of Alberta-Saskatchewan. The earliest Oblate presence in the west was first overseen by the Vicariate of Missions of St. Boniface, Manitoba. In 1868, the Oblate Congregation also established the Vicariate of Missions of St. Albert, and in 1864 the Vicariate of Missions of Athabaska-Mackenzie. The Vicariate of Missions of St. Albert was divided in 1891 to administer the west and the north, into the Vicariate of Missions of St. Albert and the Vicariate of Missions of Saskatchewan. These merged again in 1906 into the Vicariate of Missions of Alberta-Saskatchewan; in 1921 the Vicariate became the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan.

The new province consisted of 146 members and physically encompassed much of Alberta and part of Saskatchewan, from 55 North latitude, down to its southern boundary of the Canadian-American border, and from the Rocky Mountains and the South Saskatchewan River from the Alberta-Saskatchewan border to the south of Saskatoon and east to the Manitoba border.

The Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan was both the civil corporation and the canonical entity for the Oblates in the west. The Provincial administration consisted of the Provincial and a council of up to five advisors, the Provincial Treasurer, who advised on financial matters, as well as various committees as required. The Provincial was responsible for administrative matters, obediences and assignments, community life and operations of missions. The province also oversaw the administration and operation of numerous Indian Residential Schools, hospitals and orphanages.

The responsibilities of the Provincial administration within the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan continued along the lines of its predecessors: to manage the administration, the religious operations, and the financial aspects of the corporation, and to direct all the activities of the region that aimed to evangelize, to establish mission stations, elementary and advanced schools, orphanages, hospitals, dispensaries and carry out other works of Christian charity, to erect chapels and churches. This included the monitoring of properties and investments, pensions and personnel finances, project funds, and funds used for training and material missionary work in the communities. By 1935, the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan consisted of 155 personnel, and was responsible for all the First Nations and Métis missions within the Edmonton, Calgary and Prince-Albert Archdioceses. The Province was also responsible for the administration of numerous Indian Residential Schools in Alberta-Saskatchewan, including those at Brocket, Cardston Cluny, Delmas, Duck Lake, Dunbow, Hobbema, Onion Lake and St. Paul. The Province possessed the francophone newspapers La Survivance in Alberta, and Le Patriote in Saskatchewan a Cree publication, an orphanage at Prince Albert, two pilgrimage sites, eight schools, including the Juniorat Saint-Jean and numerous churches and missions. The Province established various organizations for Catholic education, including a retreat house, the Star of the North, as well as the Juniorat, later Collège Saint-Jean.

Following a division in the Oblate Provinces of the west based on language or origin of personnel, the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan was considered a French language province.

By 1965, the Province consisted of 145 members who carried out charity, parish and educational work. By 1982, the Province consisted of a number of local districts with 83 members: the District of St-Paul, South District, District of Saskatchewan, District of Hobbema, District of St-Albert, District of St-Jean, Foyer Grandin and the Provincial House. The governing of each district was entrusted to a Council consisting of a Superior and two advisers.

The Oblate Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan ceased to exist in 1986 when it merged with the Oblate Vice-Provinces of Grouard and Mackenzie to form Grandin Province.

Superiors, Vicariate of Missions of St. Albert:

  • Vital Grandin (1867-1897)
  • Emile Legal (1897-1906)
  • Henri Grandin (1906-1921)

Superior, Vicariate of Missions of Saskatchewan:

  • Albert Pascal (1891-1906)

Superior, Vicariate of Missions of Alberta-Saskatchewan:

  • Henri Grandin (1906-1921)

Provincials, Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan:

  • Henri Grandin (1921-1923)
  • François Blanchin (1923-1926)
  • Jean-Baptiste Beys (1926-1929)
  • Ubald Langlois (1929-1938)
  • Henri Routhier (1938-1944)
  • Armand Boucher (1944-1950)
  • J. Osias Fournier (1950-1956)
  • Guy Michaud (1956-1962)
  • Maurice J. Lafrance (1962-1965)
  • Georges-Marie Latour (1965-1971)
  • Thomas Bilodeau (1971-1975)
  • Joseph Regnier (1975-1979)
  • Maurice Joly (1979-1985)
PR0003 · Corporate body · 2003-present

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of men founded in Aix-en-Provence, France, in 1816 by Eugène de Mazenod, with the primary aim to serve the poor and evangelize, preaching the word of God to the disenfranchised and non-Christian throughout the world. The son of a wealthy aristocratic family, Charles-Joseph-Eugene de Mazenod (1782-1861), was ordained as a priest in 1811. The Society of the Missionaries of Provence was formally established in January 1816. In 1826 the congregation was formally approved by the Pope under the name, Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Congrégation des Oblats de Marie Immaculée) with the motto, “He has sent me to evangelize the poor.” In Canada, their mission and duty has remained consistent over time; the devotion to God, salvation of souls, and to practice charity, has served as the basis of Oblate rules and their constitution.

The Oblates were invited to Canada in 1841 by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Montreal, where they began their first foreign missionary work. In 1844, the Bishop of St. Boniface, Mgr. Provencher, made an appeal for missionaries to serve the vast territory of the west, and the Oblates sent missionaries to the St. Boniface area of Manitoba, arriving by 1845. Gradually moving west into what is now Alberta, the Oblates established a mission at Fort Chipewyan in 1847, in 1855 were present at Lac Ste-Anne and Lac-la-Biche, in 1861 had established a chapel in Fort Edmonton, and commenced the Saint-Albert mission. The primary goal of the Oblates in Canada was to evangelize and introduce Christianity to the Indigenous peoples. The Oblates would therefore establish, expand and develop their missions in strategic areas which served as central points to conduct their mission work, eased travel, and could more easily provide supplies to transport to missions. They would continue to establish missions throughout the west and the north, and these missions would often serve as bases for the church to develop as parishes.. As settlement of the west proceeded, the Oblates continued to establish missions, schools, later Indian Residential Schools and boarding schools, radio stations, hospitals and colleges, to expand their missionary role. The Oblates would also purchase property and develop businesses to support the apostolic work in communities.

The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate’s central government (worldwide) is located in Rome, Italy since 1905, and is composed of a Superior General, a Vicar General, two Assistant Generals, a number of Councilors, a Secretary General, and a Treasurer General. The congregation has several provinces, delegations and missions on all continents, the provinces being managed by an administration team structured closely to the central government.

In western Canada, the religious organization was supported by a civil corporation. Federal statute modified the structure of the organization in 1883, and the corporation became known as Les Reverends Peres Oblats de Marie Immaculee des Territoires du Nord Ouest. Administration of religious matters was to be managed by the various vicariates and later vice-provinces and provinces.

The first administrative council set out three branches of the corporation, each of which would administer its own affairs within a given territory; the Vicariate of St. Boniface outside Manitoba, the Vicariate of St. Albert, and the Vicariate of Mackenzie. The statutes were revised in 1894, 1906 and 1946 to reflect various changes to the corporate body in the west, and allow the legal structure to support the religious work of the canonical administration as missionary work expanded. In 1984, the corporation, consisting of the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan, the Vicariate of Grouard, and the Vicariate of Mackenzie, was continued under the Canada Corporations Act. In 1986, the three branches of the corporation were merged and the name of the corporate body changed to the Missionary Oblates-Grandin Province. The most recent change was the creation of OMI Lacombe Canada in 2003.

The structure of administration remained consistent in the late 19th century and early 20th, organized in a Province in developed areas, and in a Vicariate of Missions in the mission territory. The Oblate administration is hierarchical, reflecting the importance and role of the Provincial House.

Each Province had a Provincial as the chief administrator. Each Vicariate of Missions had a Vicar of Missions as chief administrator. As Superiors, their major responsibilities were to develop and administer all aspects of the missions, and ensure the propagation of faith in the communities. The goal of the work in each vicariate or province was to establish missions, schools, orphanages, hospitals and other institutions of charity, such as churches and chapels. The responsibilities of the Superior included the general well-being and the supervision of the members of the Oblate congregation, supervision of the mission work, the management of the missionaries, their work and finances, the staffing and governance of the missions, the direction of schools and the establishment of other institutions to assist in the work of the congregation. The Superior had a Treasurer, council, and various committees to assist in the administration of the organization and the political and financial aspects of the corporations.

The Superior represented the Vicariate / Province to the outside world: conducting administrative, ecclesiastical, and corporate activities with Rome and the Roman Catholic Church, its archdioceses, with other Oblate provinces, and with the federal government and other external organizations.

The provincial was also responsible for the management of the Oblate congregation in the territory, as well as its relationships with organizations within the communities the Oblates served. The Congregation is made up of priests, who have received the sacrament of holy orders and pronounced vows, and brothers, who have made religious profession and pronounced vows but have not received the sacrament of orders. Oblate missionaries were expected to observe the rules of the order and to live according to the priestly vocation. Responsibilities of the Provincial also included fostering of vocations, formation (initial and ongoing), communications, and parish affairs/management.

The majority of missionary work was carried out within the geographic areas administered by the Roman Catholic Church, and the Oblates worked closely with and within the various dioceses. Oblates often reported to Catholic bishops, were often appointed as bishops, and in some provinces, were responsible for diocesan, as well as missionary administration.

The Provincials also worked closely with religious communities of women to evangelize, such as the Sœurs de la Charité (Sœurs Grises) and Sœurs de la Charité de Notre-Dame d’Évron. Along with working hand in hand with the dioceses, the Oblates and the sisters administered and supported the Indian Residential School system in Canada, including nine schools in Alberta-Saskatchewan.

The Oblates sought to learn and become proficient in the languages of the indigenous people they wanted to convert to Christianity. Their goal was to work amongst the First Nations, and they lived in their communities, or at least near where they traded, and instruct them in their own languages.

This mission work and the general organization of the religious operations of Oblates in the west would remain fairly consistent over time. By the end of the 20th century, however, the number of Oblates had decreased, for example, from 889 in 1967 to 503 in 1990, and various reorganizations took place to reflect the realities of mission, financial, and personnel changes in Canada. Significant changes occurred in the Canadian west in 1967, with the elevation of the Vicariates of Missions of Mackenzie and Grouard to Vice-Provinces, and the west and north saw the amalgamation of administration in the 1980s, culminating in the establishment of Grandin Province, in 1986.

On December 8, 2003, the western Oblate provinces of Grandin, St. Peter’s, Manitoba Corporation, St. Mary’s and the Order of OMI British Columbia, also known as St. Paul’s Province, as well as the central provinces, were canonically amalgamated to form OMI Lacombe Canada. The amalgamation was in response to the changing views of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada through the 1990s to better reflect changes in church structure and community based activities and mission work. Today the 185 Oblates in OMI Lacombe Canada carry out their mission work in over 60 countries on five continents.

Upon incorporation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, Lacombe Canada province, the five existing Provinces ceased to exist, and OMI Lacombe Canada assumed the assets and all members of the five Provinces. A less hierarchical leadership model was implemented towards a community-based model, with leadership provided by a Provincial, and a Council. As of 2022, there are two Oblate religious communities, Notre-Dame-du-Cap Province, based in Richelieu, Quebec, and OMI Lacombe Canada Province, in Ottawa, Ontario.

The goals of OMI Lacombe Canada remain consistent with the original mission of the congregation. Administer and provide for the missionaries according to the constitutions and rules, promote education and caring for the poor, and establishing, operating, and maintaining religious institutions. The Provincial Council is divided into two components: an Ordinary (or central) Council made up of the Provincial and three councillors at large; and an Extended Council comprised of the Superiors of each local community who are full voting members of the Extended Council. The Council is responsible for major decisions and directions, while the Ordinary Council is responsible for the ongoing administration of the Province. The Provincial and full Council meet quarterly. OMI Lacombe Canada also has lay oblates who are part of the Missionary Association of Mary Immaculate (MAMI), a separate corporation. This includes friends and family who have a unique relationship with the Oblates, and are partners with the Oblates in their charity work OMI Lacombe Canada is responsible to a Board of Directors overseen by an Administrator who also administrates affiliated bodies consisting of MAMI, local offices, employees and boards, and honorary oblates.

Provincials, OMI Lacombe Canada:

  • André Boyer (2003-2009)
  • John Malazdrewich (2009-2013)
  • Kenneth Forster (2013-2019)
  • Kenneth Thorson (2019-present)
PR0003.001SF · Corporate body · 1986-2003

Grandin Province was established on May 1st, 1986, when the Oblate Vice-Provinces of Grouard, Mackenzie, and the Province of Alberta-Saskatchewan were merged to form Grandin Province. Grandin Province encompassed the western area of the Northwest Territories, Alberta, and northern Saskatchewan. It was also declared a bilingual Province. Like its predecessors, Grandin Province was both the civil corporation and the canonical entity of the Oblates in the west. The Provincial Administration consisted of eight members and included a Provincial, a Provincial Vicar, and six advisers. Grandin Province administration also included a Finance Committee composed of the Provincial Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Financial Consultant and three other members. The Provincial Administration of Grandin Province was moved from its traditional base in St. Albert, to the newly acquired Provincial House in Edmonton.

The responsibilities of the Provincial administration within Grandin Province continued along the lines of its predecessors: to manage the administration, the religious operations, and the financial aspects of the corporation, and to direct all the activities of the region that aim to evangelize, to establish mission stations, elementary and advanced schools, orphanages, hospitals, dispensaries and carry out other works of Christian charity, to erect chapels and churches.

The Oblates of Grandin Province congregation carried out the administrative functions and the duties related to mission and parish work, vocation and the formation of future Oblates, continued their administrative responsibilities at the provincial and diocesan levels, carried for the sick and the elderly, and were present in their local communities by teaching in universities, carrying out bible studies, and participating in retreats and pilgrimages.

The Provincial was responsible for overseeing the administration of the various properties, including the scolasticates, the Star of the North Retreat House, various colleges, CHFA radio and other subordinate institutions. The Provincial Vicar, was responsible for the missions in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the Kisemanito Centre, Lac St-Anne pilgrimage, and the laymen ministry training committee.

Grandin Province worked closely with the churches in the various local communities, and by the early 2000s included 158 Oblates, consisting of four bishops, 116 priests, 37 brothers and one scolasticate, who served six Roman Catholic dioceses: Mackenzie, Grouard-McLennan, St-Paul, Edmonton, Calgary and Prince Albert.

The administrative and canonical entity of Grandin Province ceased to exist when, on December 8, 2003, the western Oblate provinces of Grandin, St. Peter’s, Manitoba Corporation, St. Mary’s and the Order of OMI British Columbia, also known as St. Paul’s Province, and the central provinces, were canonically amalgamated to form OMI Lacombe Canada.

Provincials, Grandin Province:

  • Maurice Joly (1985-1986)
  • Félix Vallée (1986-1989)
  • Jacques Johnson (1989-1995)
  • Camille Piché (1996-2003)