In all justice to Eugene, we would do him a disservice if we saw his action of bringing the scholastics to vote as a devious ploy to get his own way. The decision that was made with their help proved to be the correct one, and all the Missionaries were to appreciate and accept this way of thinking.
What Eugene had done was to set the ideal for the future and the condition for all future entries: to become a Missionary one became a religious in vows. For his companions who had not joined with that idea, he gave them the freedom to continue as they were if they so wished. He did not force them to change. Leflon continues his reflection:
This debatable intervention could easily have caused the Fathers who had been put into a minority to adopt a cool attitude toward the Founder who had instigated that intervention in order to assure success and toward the simple acolytes who had reversed the situation in the Founder’s favor. The truth of the matter is that everything was arranged for the best. The elections to the positions prescribed by the statutes gave instant proof that in spite of the momentary dissension, unity and charity still prevailed. Acting as a constituted society, gathered in General Chapter according to the terms of the Rule which had just been accepted…
Leflon 2, p. 168
Basing himself on the official Acts of the Chapter and on the Memoires of Mariusz Suzanne, Rey describes the events:
On Monday 26 October was held a second session of the First General Chapter of the Society of Missionaries of Provence.
“Having gathered the priests of the community, the Founder suggested they proceed with the election of office bearers in the manner prescribed by the Statutes approved by them and to admit to this end the three in formation who had already taken part in their deliberations and who wished to engage themselves in that which they had been a part of drawing up. This was agreed upon and, after invoking the illumination of the Holy Spirit and calling on the protection of the Blessed Virgin, all the members present proceeded to vote for the appointment of those who were to be in charge of the Society.
There were seven priests present: the V. Rev. Fr. de Mazenod, Founder and Superior; Rev. Fr. Tempier, the first disciple and companion of Father de Mazenod, the Fathers Deblieu, Mie, Maunier, Marius Aubert and Moreau; plus the three novice students, Brothers Courtès, Suzanne and Dupuy.
All the members making up this assembly unanimously begged Father de Mazenod to kindly continue to hold office as Superior General of the Society. Then to manifest to Fr. Deblieu the affection that all had for him, despite his refusal to commit themselves by the vows, he was appointed, almost unanimously, as First Assistant and Admonitor to the Superior General. Fr. Maunier was appointed Second Assistant and Secretary General, Fr. Tempier, Third Assistant, Fr. Mie, Fourth Assistant and Fr. Courtès, Procurator General of the Society.”
Rey 1, p. 233
Our Rule of Life today reflects these beginnings:
United as brothers in one apostolic community, we are all equal before God our Father who distributes charisms and ministries so that we can serve his Church and its mission. Our organizational structures, accordingly, are set up in function of that mission.
Following the guidelines of the Constitutions and Rules, those in authority will make sure that the structures are flexible enough to evolve with our lived experience.
CC&RR Constitution 72