Province History

In 1893, the first Oblates priests came to the United States, serving chaplaincies in the New York City area. In 1903, Salesianum School was established as a high school for boys in Wilmington, Delaware; it remains a valued and  prominent ministry of Catholic education to this day.   After early years of expansion, the American Province flourished during the 1940s and 1950s with many vocations from schools it conducted in the Wilmington, Philadelphia, Toledo, Detroit, and Niagara Falls areas.  A seminary and house of formation were established at Childs, Maryland, and Hyattsville, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC.

In 1966, the American Province was split into the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province, which encompassed the eastern and southern states, and the Toledo-Detroit Province, which encompassed the central and western states.  

In 1967, the American Provinces celebrated with the many and varied branches of the Salesian Family the 400th anniversary of the birth of St. Francis de Sales. For this occasion, Pope Paul VI promulgated a special papal letter entitled "The Gem of Savoy,” as a testimonial to the contribution St. Francis de Sales made to the Universal Church, calling him "uniquely a man for our times" and the inspiration for the reforms of Vatican II.

Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales was founded by the Oblates at the invitation of Bishop Joseph McShea of the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania.  Students began taking classes in September 1965, and the campus became home to hundreds of young men studying for the Oblate priesthood and brotherhood at Brisson Seminary, named for our founder.  With more than 50 years of fine academic programming and campus development, DeSales University now serves more than 3,100 students and offers bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees.    

During the early 1970s several parishes — from North Carolina to Pennsylvania — were entrusted to Oblate care, and this foreshadowed the profound impact that Oblates would have in parochial ministry in the years to come.  Oblates would also venture to new high schools in Virginia and Florida, from the 1960s though the 1980s.  We are pleased to maintain our relationship with Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia, where we served for more than 40 years.  



With more Oblates transitioning from high school ministry to work in parishes, the list of church communities we lead has grown.  Parishioners' response to Salesian spirituality has been encouraging beyond measure, prompting more Oblates to consider service in parishes.  The Oblates were also adept in responding to the social needs of the people before us.  Many were called to serve as hospital and military chaplains, drug and alcohol counselors, and social service agents to alleviate the grave challenges of poverty. 

In addtion to a growing interest among Oblates to work full-time in churches, the decline in men entering religious life impacted our ability to staff high schools.  Additionally, some dioceses closed schools in response to changing demographics.  In additional to Salesianum School and DeSales University, the Oblates now support Father Judge High School, which we began in 1954.  We also were proud to found Nativity Preparatory School of Wilmington, an tuition-free middle school that provides  inner-city boys a Catholic education.  Additionally, we co-endorse Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School that offers boys and girls from economically challenged families a college-prep curriculum and work-study program in professional environments that help finance the school.

The present ministry of the Oblates rests in our commitment to advancing the Gospel through the example of St. Francis de Sales.  This gentleman saint's embrace of the gentleness and humility of Jesus is central to our ministry, especially as we joyfully seek to address the violence and injustice that threatens the Kingdom of God that Jesus so lovingly began.  

Where the Oblates serve

Delaware Parishes:

  • St. Anthony of Padua
  • St. Thomas More Oratory
  • Christ Our King

Delaware Schools:

  •  Nativity Preparatory School
  • Salesianum School

Florida Parishes:

  • Jesus the Worker
  • Our Lady of Light
  • St. Ann
  • St. Cecilia

International Parish & Missions:

  • Monaco
  • Haiti

Maryland Parish:

  • Immaculate Conception

Maryland Oblate Retirement Center and Assisted Living:

  • Annecy Hall

Maryland Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center:

  • Father Martin’s Ashley

Massachusetts University:

  • Harvard University

New Jersey Parishes:

  • Cathedral of Immaculate
  • Conception
  • Christ the King
  • Our Lady Star of the Sea
  • Washington, D.C. School:
  • Georgetown Visitation
  • Preparatory School

North Carolina Military Chaplaincy:

  • Camp Lejeune

North Carolina Parishes:

  • Holy Cross
  • Holy Infant
  • Holy Redeemer by the Sea
  • Immaculate Conception
  • Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Our Lady of the Highways
  • Our Lady of the Rosary
  • Our Lady of the Seas
  • St. Ann
  • St. Elizabeth

Pennsylvania Schools / Universities:

  • Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School
  • DeSales University
  • Father Judge High School
  • Holy Family University
  • St. Joseph’s University
  • Chestnut Hill College

Pennsylvania Parishes:

  • Our Lady of Ransom
  • Our Mother of Consolation
  • Resurrection of Our Lord
  • St. Dominic
  • St. Francis de Sales
  • St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Pennsylvania Drug & Alcohol Treatment Centers:

  • Caron Foundation

Virginia Parishes:

  • Our Lady of Good Counsel
  • St. John Neumann