While the Missionaries were fully occupied in the first part of 1820 with the missions to the cities of Marseille and Aix en Provence, Henri Tempier and his community were ministering at the Sanctuary of Notre Dame du Laus. The numbers of pilgrims were increasing – no doubt attracted by the young and energetic community of Missionaries.
The Mission house in Aix was also filling up. There were several lay students living in the house, and Eugene felt that the time had come to move the novices to a quieter place for their formation. Hence he accompanied them to Laus, where Henri Tempier would look after their formation.
Exhausted from the non-stop work of the missions and of the pastoral and administrative activities at the house, he was able to take a break in the beautiful situation of Laus, surrounded by mountains. Here he joined the Missionaries in their religious life, prayers and ministry of preaching and confession for the pilgrims. He wrote to his mother:
Dear mother, if everyone who is dear to me were here, I would be quite glad never to leave, so delightful is my stay. You would have to be here to grasp that… The life I am leading is so peaceful and I taste its charms so strongly that I cannot think without a feeling of aversion that I must soon leave it.
More than the beautiful scenery and the community life, he was captivated by the example of the faith of the pilgrims. The people being evangelized were the ones who evangelized the Missionaries by the quality of their faith:
Separated from the whole world, we see in this solitude only fervent Christians concerned only with their salvation and because of their example one is not tempted to be involved in anything else.
Letter to his mother, 29 June 1820, O.W. XIII n 29
We find this attitude in our Rule of Life today:
We will let our lives be enriched by the poor and the marginalized as we work with them, for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim.
CC&RR Rule 8a
In the midst of forgiving comes a celebration: we see the beauty of people who quite often are considered marginal by society. With forgiveness and celebration, community [fellowship] becomes the place where we call forth the gifts of other people, lift them up, and say, “You are the beloved daughter and the beloved son.” Henri J. M. Nouwen