Continuing his narration of his early priestly ministry in Aix en Provence, Eugene told his friend, Father Forbin-Janson:

“Next, I go twice a month to the seminary and try, by the example of my conduct, to bring no dishonour to the priesthood that the Lord in his infinite mercy has seen fit to invest me with.”

April 9, 1813 in O.W. XV n. 116

He began an apostolic association among the seminarians through which he aimed to help them to prepare to be the best possible priests. A month later, Eugene copied parts of a letter he had received which echoed the sentiments he tried to inspire:

Here is something another one, who was sent a little while ago to be professor in the minor seminary, wrote me: “As for myself, I am always united with you, as when I was at … always carrying out, so far as I can, the practices you were so kind as to give me. The good that these practices have done me obliges me again to give you testimony of my sincere gratitude. You can assure my dear brothers [the seminarians] on my behalf that they will see infinitely better even than now the importance of the service you have rendered them, when they have left the major seminary.” Eugene concludes the narrative saying: “What hope for the future!”

May 12, 1813 in O.W. XV n. 119

Eugene’s conviction of the need for good priests was thus not restricted to achieving his own sanctification, but to working at doing whatever he could to ensure that all priests come to love God as fully as possible and to give their lives generously for God as God’s instruments of salvation for others. Some years later the success of these experiences would lead him to list the ministry of priestly formation as one of the more important ministries for his Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Some words seem to become imprinted on our souls, on the core of our being. It has happened a few times with the writings of Eugene, the words spoken and lived by him. One of Eugene’s letters, the first to Henri Tempier inviting Henri to join him is an example of that because that letter touched me so deeply and spoke somehow to my heart. Another was when he said: “We must lead men to act like human beings first of all, then like christians, and, finally we must help them to become saints.”

    This message to his missionaries spoke to me and became indelibly written in my heart. Here was a man who was saying to his priests – this what we must do as priests, as Oblates, as co-operators of the Saviour. To me he was not saying this just for himself, or for his community, but for all of us. My secret (well I guess it is out now) was that I had grown up wanting to be a saint, but not sure it would ever be possible for the likes of me and where I came from. He spoke directly to my heart and I rejoiced and had a heck of a lot of hope. He was not a man simply looking for his own salvation and “sanctification” – because he was talking about all mankind, all those poor around him – even ones that would follow some 200 years later. Talk about “hope for the future” – it lives today.

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