Eugene will speak to us again on Wednesday 07 January 2015.

A reminder that all the previous entries (1254 of them) can be consulted on this site. By using the search engine on the homepage you can find entries dealing with specific themes.

Thank you for your support of this daily blog.

May Saint Eugene intercede for you and accompany you in your celebration of the birth of the Savior. May the joy and peace that Eugene experienced in his relationship with Jesus be yours at Christmas and throughout 2015.

Frank Santucci OMI
Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, Texas.



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To this end, I invoke the intercession of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, daring to remind her in all humility, but with consolation, of the filial devotion of my whole life, and of the desire I have always had to make her known and loved, and to spread her devotion everywhere through the ministry of those whom the Church has given to me as children, who have had the same desire as myself…

Eugene de Mazenod’s will, 1 August 1854, E.O. XV n. 191

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In preparation for our patronal feast, we recall Eugene’s decision to change our name to Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Once the decision had been made, and Eugene had requested this new name, he was filled with joy at having done the right thing.

Oblates of the Immaculate Mary. But this is a passport to heaven! How have we not thought of it sooner?

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 December 1825, EO VI n 213

 Eugene “seems to become aware of the fact that, even if he had always loved Mary, he had not yet understood the essential role she played in the plan of Redemption. In searching for the patron who best expressed the goal of his Congregation – that is a person walking in the footsteps of Christ, committed to the apostolate of service and to the instruction of the poor – he had not thought of Mary. While in Rome, he understood who Mary really was. The title of the Congregation was thus born from a discovery that, in order to respond in an authentic way to the urgent needs of the Church, its members should identify with Mary Immaculate “to offer themselves” to the service of God’s plan of salvation like she did.”   Casimir Lubowicki, “Mary” in the Dictionary of Oblate Values,

Today: “Mary Immaculate is patroness of our Congregation. Open to the Spirit, she consecrated herself totally as lowly handmaid to the person and work of the Savior. She received Christ in order to share him with all the world, whose hope he is. In her, we recognize the model of the Church’s faith and of our own.” CC&RR Constitution 10

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Concluding the presentations on the significance of the Oblates taking over the running of the seminary in Marseille (and thus opening the way to become involved in seminary education throughout the world), Yvon Beaudoin gives some interesting figures on the situation.

“The diocese of Marseilles was territorially at that time the smallest diocese in the whole of France, but its population during the years of 1826 to 1861 rose from 150,000 to 300,000. This population was almost entirely Catholic and was served in 1826 by 171 priests, most of them elderly, and by 378 in 1860. The number of seminarians which stood at 70 in 1827, dropped to some thirty after the Revolution of July in 1830, then slowly climbed to some forty between 1840 and 1850 and thereafter fluctuated between 60 and 80. The Oblates saw about 330 seminarians pass through their hands and the two de Mazenods ordained some 300 to the priesthood.

The seminary of Marseilles played an important role in the history of the Oblate Congregation, not only because it was the first seminary directed by the Oblates but also because it received the Oblate scholastics, first as day students from 1827 to 1830 and again from 1833 to 1835, and then as boarders from 1835 to 1854. They were few at first, but numbered between 20 and 40 during the years from 1835 to 1854. About 225 scholastics received at least part of their formation at the major seminary of Marseilles and between 1827 and 1854 some 209 were ordained to the priesthood by Bishops Fortuné and Eugene de Mazenod.”

  1. Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary,


Pope Francis reminisces about the effects his seminary professors had on him:

“I entered the diocesan seminary. I liked the Dominicans, and I had Dominican friends. But then I chose the Society of Jesus, which I knew well because the seminary was entrusted to the Jesuits. Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline.”   Pope Francis

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Yvon Beaudoin continues to explain the Oblate involvement, as professors,  in the major seminary of Marseille.

Admittedly, the greater number of directors accepted this task only out of obedience. Nearly all of them wanted to be preachers and missionaries. With reason, therefore, the Founder and the few Capitulars of 1850 who were to formulated the articles of the Rule on seminaries sought to underline the greatness of this work and its close link to the main end of the Institute. Article 1 reads:

After the missions, the most important work of our Congregation is undoubtedly the direction of seminaries, in which clerics receive their own special training. For it is in these seminaries, in the seclusion of God’s house, and under the protection of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, that formation is given to those who are to teach sound doctrine to the people, and to guide them along the way of salvation. In vain would the missionaries labor for the conversion of sinners, if the parochial clergy were not men filled with the Holy Spirit, earnestly following in the footsteps of the Divine Shepherd, and feeding with watchful and constant care, the sheep that have returned to Him…

Rule of 1853

This was an urgent invitation and effort to make it understood that professors were as much missionaries as were their brothers who were preaching, for by forming zealous priests professors were at least indirectly contributing to the maintaining and propagation of the faith.”  Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary,


“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.”   Solomon Ortiz


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Eugene writes about Father Albini’s appointment to the seminary :

Be well aware that were he to fall ill again and I am unable to employ him in the post which I have in mind for him…

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat. 23 August 1827, EO VII n 275

“From 1827 to 1862 the seminary had only two Superiors, namely, Fathers Tempier and Joseph Fabre; but that same period saw forty-three directors pass through the seminary: on the average each served there for two or three years… Besides Father Albini, several other directors were looked upon by the Founder and his contemporaries as persons who, if not saints, were nevertheless men of great virtue… When he accepted the direction of this seminary, the Founder no doubt had in mind the good that would result therefrom, namely, raising the intellectual level within the Congregation. Article 7 in the paragraph of the Rule on seminaries expresses this objective in these words: “Our Congregation would gain considerably if some Fathers who had dedicated themselves for many years to the formation of clerics were assigned to other Houses in view of the greater promotion of doctrine and regular observance.”   Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary,

Today, our Rule of Life insists on ongoing formation for every Oblate:

Ongoing formation encompasses all aspects of our development. It renews and develops our spiritual life and its inner resources and favours our growth in emotional and affective maturity. It increases our pastoral skills. It enables us to be critically aware of the integration of our life and mission at all stages of our development.” CC&RR, Constitution 69


“The teacher who would be true to his mission and accomplish the most good, must give prominence to moral as well as intellectual instruction.”   Sheldon Jackson

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Eugene writes about Father Albini’s appointment to the seminary :

Be well aware that were he to fall ill again and I am unable to employ him in the post which I have in mind for him…

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat. 23 August 1827, EO VII n 275

 “A school’s worth is directly proportionate to the quality of its teachers. In 1827 there were some fifteen Fathers in the Congregation and none of them had made any studies that would have prepared them to teach in a major seminary. Still, Father de Mazenod could count on two men whom he trusted very much. They were both rather young but devoted religious and endowed with much talent: Father Tempier, who was the Superior of the House for 27 years and Father Charles Dominique Albini taught moral theology there from 1827 to 1835. The two or three other directors, who were always chosen from among the best Oblates, were more frequently replaced.

It is not easy to discern the precise criteria that for a long period of time guided Father de Mazenod in choosing the directors. In fact, it was only the General Chapter of 1850 that composed a part of the Rule that concerns seminaries, in which part the qualities required for this task were for the first time formulated.”

  1. Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary,


“Encouragement of higher education for our young persons is critical to the success of our collective future.”   Charles B. Rangel

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To respond to the need for clergy reform and formation, Eugene was about to send Father Charles-Dominique Albini to the major seminary of Marseille as professor and formator. He wrote about this to Fr. Honorat

Be well aware that were he to fall ill again and I am unable to employ him in the post which I have in mind for him, it would be a frightful mess, one which would be of major consequence!

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat. 23 August 1827, EO VII n 275

Yvon Beaudoin explains the background.

“The diocese of Marseilles had a flourishing seminary which the Lazarist Fathers directed from 1648 to 1791. The French Revolution suppressed the diocese and closed the seminary. When Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, the first bishop of the re-established diocese, arrived in 1823, he was greeted by 24 seminarians who were receiving their training at Aix. In December of the same year he transferred them to Marseilles where an interim seminary was opened, first on the Rue Rouge, then at St-Just; it was under the direction of diocesan priests.

After Father François de Paule Henry Tempier had been appointed Vicar General in 1823, he was put in charge of constructing a new seminary building on the rue Rouge. This building housed the seminary from 1827 to 1862; it was afterwards torn down to free the areas around the new cathedral. Once the seminary had been located in these new quarters, the Bishop also wanted to provide it with a new team of directors. His preference was to put religious priests in charge of it, for he felt that this would ensure greater unity of doctrine and formation. He approached the Fathers of the Sacred Heart, then the Sulpicians and the Lazarists, but without any success. In the end he entrusted the direction of his seminary to his diocesan missionaries, namely, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

For several years Father de Mazenod had been readying himself to accept an apostolic work like this… In the new edition of the Rule (1825-1826), clergy reform remained one of the ends of the Congregation, though the direction of seminary was not explicitly mentioned. However, in Father de Mazenod’s December 8, 1825 petition to the Holy Father and in the papal Brief Si tempus umquam by which Leo XII approved the Rule on March 21, 1826, the direction of seminaries was mentioned as a secondary aim of the Institute.”

Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary,


“Spiritual formation in a Christian tradition answers a specific human question: ‘What kind of person am I going to be?’ It is the process of establishing the character of Christ in the person. That’s all it is.”   Dallas Willard

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Eugene’s awareness of the need for good priests had been a priority for him from the time he entered the seminary. Our first Rule as Missionaries in 1818 reflected this awareness and made it a part of our Oblate goals:

Article 1. A no less important end of their Institute, an end they will as zealously strive to achieve as they do the main end, is that of clergy reform and of repairing to the full extent possible to them the evil caused in the past and still being caused by unworthy priests…

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Missions, 78 (1951) p.14-15

 In 1826 this article was rephrased in the Rule approved in Rome by the Church:

All are aware of the many evils that have resulted from the deplorable disaster of recent years, namely, the evils that were occasioned by the apostasy of a multitude of priests who, despite the glorious example of so many of their brothers, have fallen from the fervor of their state, and have brought ruin on themselves and many others. It is because of this situation that our Society, with equal zeal and perseverance, also makes it one of its purposes to afford special means of salvation to such priests.

Rule of 1826, Chapter One, §1, Art. 6

Eugene’s response had several directions. He and the Oblates were committed to being available to journey with priests in need of renewal by welcoming them into our communities for retreats and direction. As from 1827 the Oblate response was also to be involved in the training of future priests in seminaries. As Vicar General of Marseille, he committed himself to these same goals for the clergy of the diocese.


“Self-reform automatically brings about social reform.”   Ramana Maharshi

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Evangelization of the people necessitated good priests to accompany them in their conversion and spiritual growth. Eugene was committed to this ideal both as an Oblate and as Vicar General of Bishop Fortuné in Marseille.

We are pursuing our system of purification, two or three more expulsions at the most and all our whole countryside will be in good hands; also the Jubilee has done wonders everywhere; the accounts which our parish priests are giving us are splendid everybody is going to confession …

Letter, 24 March 1827, in REY (I, 426)

Fr Woestman gives the background to this clergy reform: “For a real understanding of de Mazenod’s intention, the religious situation of France at that moment must be kept in mind. All religious communities of men and women in the France had been suppressed during the Revolution (1789-1799), their houses and churches were destroyed or used for secular purposes, the secular clergy was persecuted – murdered, imprisoned, driven into exile and hiding – and all seminaries were closed for many years. The effects of this continued to be felt long after the end of overt persecution. Thus the number of active priests between 1809 and 1815 dropped from 31,870 to 25,874. W. Woestman, “Priests” in Dictionary of Oblate Values (



“To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.”   Thomas Carlyle

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