Before beginning his venture with the young people of Aix, Eugene had written to his spiritual director, Father Duclaux, asking advice on his plans to gather young people on Sundays so as to instruct them. Duclaux’s reply of 23 February 1813 was unconditionally encouraging:
This is still the work of works: give it all your efforts, deploy all your zeal to form them well. Give them guidelines.
REY, Histoire I, p. 151-152
Eugene followed this advice closely, and two months later he reported that on Sunday evenings he was giving the youth a
small instruction, quite simple, in conversational vein, which God in his goodness sees to seasoning.
Letter to C. Forbin-Janson, 9 April 1813, O.W. XV n. 116
The first official coming together of the group took place on Sunday 25 April 1813 with seven participants.
The Oblate researcher, Jozef Pielorz, descriobes the growth of this group:
Thanks to the strong personality of the Founder and his particular talent to attract young people, the Youth Association developed beyond all expectations:
at the end of 1813 there were 23;
at the end of 1814 they got to 60;
at the end of 1815, to 120,
at the end of 1816, 200
to reach up to nearly 300 in 1817.
At that time, it was therefore one of the most flourishing congregations of youth in France.
PIELORZ, J., “Les rapports du Fondateur avec les curés d’Aix (1813-1826),”
in Études Oblates 19 (1960), p. 159.
“Young people need models, not critics” (John Wooden)