The Institute of Oblate Sisters of St. Benedict Joseph Labre is a congregation of women religious in the Catholic Church. The Institute was founded in Molfetta (near Bari, Italy), immediately after the World War II, by Reverend Fr. Ambrogio Grittani, a priest of the Diocese of Molfetta. Led by the Holy Spirit, Fr. Ambrogio Grittani saw in the tragic situation of the time, a particular moment of his priestly ministry and calling, with a specific charism, to an authentic witness of charity and service in favour of beggars, the disables, and in particular of the elderly, the poor and all those in need of assistance.
Fr. Ambrogio Grittani, a professor in the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Molfetta, had long been sensitized and prepared by divine providence to an ideal life and apostolate of charitable work among young souls with whom he came into contact in his priestly life and ministry. On October 23, 1941, with the consent of the Bishop of Molfetta, Bishop Achille Salvucci, he gathered the first group of people in a fraternal community of spiritual life and apostolic works. With them he started a more orderly and effective active service, corroborated from the ideal of communion and prayer and from the issuing of simple annual vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
In the few years in which he remained close to his spiritual Daughters, the Founder took care of the good, inner and apostolic growth, arriving also at a precise configuration of the charism proper to the nascent Institute: service to the last, animated by the charity that finds his source in the Heart of Jesus the Eucharist, following the example of St. Benedict Labre.
However, the untimely death of the Reverend Fr. Ambrogio Grittani, which took place in 1951, prevented him from completing the work begun. But the dynamism he had been able to imprint on her Sisters of the nascent Religious Institute continued, to the point that the Institute was able to extend its charitable influence also to other centers of Puglia: Seclì from 1958 to 1970, Castellaneta from 1959 to 1977, Corsano from 1961 to 1976, Terlizzi from 1965, Maruggio since 1965, Toritto since 1971 (where the Oblates still perform their mission among the elderly). From 1980 to 1984, the Oblates were at the service of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Molfetta.
In obedience to the divine call of our Father Founder, Fr. Grittani, this nascent Institute of Women Religious, began to manifest itself in the span of its short history. The Institute continued thereafter to manifest all the more, the authentic discernment of its specific charism, with steadfast trust in the maternal divine protection of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, and in the light of the missionary apostolate to the poor inspired by the example of St. Benedict Joseph Labre. Moreover, under the paternal gaze of the Founder, the Oblates have certainly found in their new Constitution, the source and reason for their growth in following Christ, in the service of the Church, his bride, for the benefit of the poor, the elderly and all the other needy brethren.
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