After visiting Notre Dame du Laus, Eugene wrote this description of the place and of the evangelization that the Missionaries would undertake from there:
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.
We have become the guardians of one of the most celebrated shrines of the Blessed Virgin where the good God is pleased to manifest the power that he has granted to this dear Mother of the Mission.
At this moment the Missionaries did not have a specifically Marian identity, but working at Laus this started to be expressed as they came to understand that Marian shrines did form a part of their missionary outreach. Until now the Missionaries had gone out to preach missions, but here the pilgrims came to them and so the sanctuary became a place of permanent mission with the people coming to them.
More than 20 000 souls flock there every year to renew themselves in spiritual fervour in the shelter of this truly impressive shrine and which inspires one with something indefinable but which marvellously draws one up to God.
The aim of the sanctuary was the same as that of the parish missions: to bring the most abandoned to conversion and to a life of fullness in God.
Apart from the pilgrims, the sanctuary church acted also as the local parish for the hamlet of Laus. It is important to note that Eugene did not want his Missionaries in France to be pastors of parishes as such. They accepted this charge if it was primarily a part of a missionary center of pilgrimage and doubled as the local parish.
In the cold winter months, when pilgrims no longer came to the shrine, then the Missionaries would go out to the surrounding villages to preach the Gospel in prolonged parish missions.
From there, after having preached repentance to these good and faithful people and after having shown them the grandeur and glory of Mary, we will spread throughout the mountains to proclaim the Word of God to these simple souls, better disposed to receive this divine seed than those who live around us, corrupted as they are.
Letter to Pierre Mie, October 1818, O.W. VI n.31
Mary ” 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.”
OMI CC&RR, Constitution 10