Completing the writing of the Rule, Eugene left St Laurent for Digne, where Brother Moreau was ordained to the priesthood. In the meantime Henri Tempier had come to Digne to join Eugene and the Bishop to negotiate the transfer of the shrine of Notre Dame du Laus to the Missionaries. Eugene, Tempier and Moreau then went to the Shrine and were able to announce:
We have formed an establishment at Notre Dame du Laus thus bringing ourselves into direct relations with the dioceses of Gap, Digne, Embrun and Sisteron.
Letter to Pierre Mie, October 1818, O.W. VI n.31
This first step of expanding out of Aix signaled a major shift for the Missionaries and was the opening of a door to the “giant leap” that was to bring Eugene’s missionary family to more than 60 countries.
Leflon, using the letters of Fortuné de Mazenod, takes up the story of the return to Aix from Laus:
Finally, on September 24, a visit was made to Laus. The return journey began the following day, and its slowness greatly contrasted with the quick dispatch of the previous trip. Out of a spirit of poverty, fifty-five of the seventy-five miles between Laus and Aix were made on foot over impossible roads. Consequently, it was not until September 30 that the three voyagers reached Aix.
The Founder evidently had more endurance than Moreau and Tempier who arrived exhausted, since, instead of taking time out to rest, he immediately plunged into work. “I haven’t been able to talk privately with him, even for a few moments,” wrote Fortune to President de Mazenod. “From the moment he arrived, his time was monopolized by all the usual petty matters until it was time to retire.” The next day was taken up continuously with hearing the confessions of the novices and members of the Sodality.
Leflon II, p. 165-166
Undoubtedly a good part of the conversation would have been on how to present the newly-written Rule on introducing religious life and vows to the rest of the Missionaries. It is interesting that at the General Chapter a few weeks later, we shall see that these three were the only ones initially in favor of the change of status.