Looking back at the end of 1817 Eugene described himself as
a priest who had consecrated the first years of his ministry almost exclusively to the sanctification of youth.
Diary of the Youth Congregation, 1 November 1817, O.W. XVI
It was a ministry that he shared as one of the aims of his Society of Missionaries, who
will also pay attention to instructing youth concerning their religious duties; to turn them away from vice and dissipation; to prepare them to fulfill whatever obligations the Church and civil society have the right to confide to them in the state of life for which they are destined.
1818 Rule, Chapter Two §2 article 3
This was codified in the first Rule of the Missionaries of 1818, and then developed in the Rule of 1825:
§3. The Direction of Youth
Art. 1. The direction of youth will be considered an essential duty of our Institute.
Art. 2. Consequently a society for young men will be established, if possible, in all our houses.
Art. 3. In each house, the superior will appoint one or more of the missionaries to direct these societies.
1825 Rule, Chapter Three §3
In our present Oblate Rule of life, Rule 7 states:
Preaching missions at home, mission among the youth and sending missionaries abroad have been traditionally central to our apostolate.
Because of the importance of youth ministry in Eugene’s vision, I would like to spend some time in the coming weeks exploring some aspects of the Youth Congregation that he founded in 1813.
(Note that in several entries above from 11 July 2010 onwards I dealt with the foundation of the Youth Congregation)