In writing the Rule in 1818 Eugene wanted to put down in writing the spirit of how the Missionaries had experienced themselves for three years. His aim was that others would be transformed by the same spirit through following this Rule of Life as Missionaries. The foreword contains some of the important the elements of our vocation, and could be described as an eight-point identikit, still very valid for us today.
1/ If the priests to whom the Lord has granted the desire
One becomes a Missionary (or joins the Mazenodian family) as a response to a desire placed in us by God. God’s initiative is the absolute pre-requisite to our vocation.
2/ to come together in community
Our very first response to God’s call is to become part of a community. Eugene thus stresses that we are not individual workers or “lone rangers.”
3/ to work more effectively for the salvation of souls
Together, as a united body, we are able to pool our talents and efforts and be more far-reaching and effective in inviting others to the Kingdom of God.
4/ and for their own sanctification
The Missionary is a co-operator of the Savior and this necessitates our working for our own salvation, first of all, so that we can invite others to share our own experience of the Kingdom.
5/ wish to achieve some good in the Church,
The vocation of the Missionary is always in the context of the Church. We act in the name of the Church and as part of the Church’s mission.
6/ they should first of all be deeply convinced themselves of the aims of the Institute which they have become a part of,
The member has to be constantly aware of the purpose and spirit of the Missionaries and be convinced of the goals of the Congregation. It is not a place for each one “to do his own thing,” no matter how excellent this may be.
7/ they should be deeply convinced of … the greatness of the ministry to which they are called
The Missionary needs to understand fully the importance of what we are called to do and our dignity as a co-operator of Jesus Christ.
8/ they should be deeply convinced of … the enormous fruits of salvation which their work can produce if they acquit themselves of their duties in a worthy manner.
The Missionary needs to be fully aware of the richness of what we are offering through our preaching and actions, and how these can change the lives of others.
The full text:
If the priests to whom the Lord has granted the desire to come together in community to work more effectively for the salvation of souls and for their own sanctification wish to achieve some good in the Church, they should first of all be deeply convinced themselves of the aims of the Institute which they have become a part of, the greatness of the ministry to which they are called and the enormouse fruits of salvation which their work can produce if they perform their duties in a worthy manner.
Missions, 78 (1951) p.11
Note that the full text of the 1818 Rule can be found in French at