The common theme running through all the descriptions of the ministry of the Missionaries was this infallible rule:

We are never to lose sight of one of the principal ends of our Institute, which is to help the most abandoned souls.

As Eugene unfolds the ministry of the Missionaries in the 1818 Rule, he applies this principle In the fourth category: evangelizing the prisoners :

For this reason, the unfortunate inmates of prisons have a rightful claim upon the charity of the Society.

The response of the Missionaries was

we will try to meet their needs, as far as circumstances permit, by frequently visiting them and by teaching them their religious duties, at least on Sundays, when we can get into these places of detention.

Among this category of abandoned people, the Missionary was to pay special attention the “most abandoned” of this group, those condemned to death – abandoned and shunned by society, and sadly by the Jansenist church too. The Missionary was to follow the example of Jesus and reach out:

In accordance with all the resources of Christian charity we will use every means in our power to assist those who have been condemned to death.

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter 3, §4. Prisons.

  [On the website you can find more information on this in the entries of 5 – 9 July, 2010]

“The just is close to the people’s heart, but the merciful is close to the heart of God.”  Khalil Gibran

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am constantly amazed at the size of Eugene’s heart – such a great capacity to love. I love, and I love the most abandoned – the ones that I see and know and come in touch with during my days. But there are many others who are not a part of my day-to-day life and they do not come readily to mind. And yet Eugene was able to see them all. Such a heart!

    As I reflected on this I thought of the scriptures (and had to go and find out who wrote it – Luke 22:39-43) “… today you will be with me in paradise.” That incredible mercy! In Eugene’s time the prisons were incredibly horrid, lacking in light, hope and anything that might pass for being life-giving. This in particular would not be a nice, neat, or tidy ministry inside or out. Am thinking of the compassion that would be/is the gift of loving and serving a person in prison – gut wrenching.

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