Lanteri and the Oblates

Father Pio Bruno Lanteri

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Two centuries ago, Fr. Pio Bruno Lanteri (1759-1830), a Piedmontese
priest who worked in Turin for fifty years, faced many challenges in his
time. It was a turbulent era both in the Church and in secular society.
It was a time in which the anti-Christian spirit of the French
Revolution was running rampant, a time in which the rigorism of the
Jansenists presented a severe God and once more called into question the
Popes authority, a time in which it wasnt easy to find any firm points
of reference for ones spiritual life.

It was in this context that Fr. Lanteri, as a young priest, had an
extraordinary experience of the Mercy of God. Under the fatherly and
friendly guidance of the Jesuit Father Nikolaus von Diessbach, Lanteri
discovered the true face of God. It was for him the beginning of a life
entirely founded upon a trust in the infinite Mercy of God made manifest
in Jesus Christ. He became an ardent witness to it through an apostolic
activity that was intense and varied: preaching the Spiritual Exercises
and popular missions, offering spiritual direction and confession,
circulating books, supporting lay and priestly associations, providing
real care for the needy. In all this, he was always careful to guide
people to the truth in love, showing utmost goodness to all, trying to
help everyone take responsibility for his or her vocation with an
authentic Christian spirit. And he always pointed to fidelity to the
Church and fidelity to Mary as the unfailing guiding lights along the
path of the Christian life.

Central to the apostolate of Fr. Lanteri was his collaboration with certain groups called the Amicizie Cristiane
(Christian Friendships) founded by Fr. von Diessbach. They were
something new to the times, groups of lay people, men and women who were
committed, on one hand, to a serious journey of personal spiritual
growth and who tried, on the other, to make an impact on the culture by
circulating good books. Fr. Lanteri guided and accompanied these groups
for no less than thirty years. This will help us understand the enormous
esteem Lanteri had for lay people and for their potential in the work
of evangelization.
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The Oblates of the Virgin Mary

In 1816, with a group of priests from Carignano and Turin, Fr.
Lanteri founded the Congregation of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. He
didnt give them the task of continuing the work of the Amicizie
cristiane , nevertheless the Oblates always kept alive Lanteris
sensitivity in securing as much lay involvement as possible. They were
quite active, for example, in promoting Catholic Action. Even today,
with the extraordinary theological and pastoral developments that have
come about since the Second Vatican Council up to the present, the
Oblates feel called to take advantage of a greater collaboration with
the laity in order to face together with them the challenges of
evangelization.