Three and a half years after the foundation of the Missionaries of Provence they lived a moment of great joy and satisfaction in the priestly ordination of the first member of the Youth Congregation to become one of them. In January 1816 the Missionaries came into existence as a group of men who were already priests. Hundreds of young people had come into close contact with this group of charismatic and energetic missionaries. Some found the group and what it stood for so attractive that they wished to become
Missionaries themselves. The first member of Eugene’s Youth Congregation to respond to this vocation was Hippolyte Courtès.
On July 31 … the Youth Congregation gave God’s Church the most precious gift that it could make her, in giving her a priest according to the heart of God, one highly suitable to accomplish all the lofty destiny of a faithful minister, everything, in a word, that one must be to please God, to edify and be of service to people.
Diary of the Youth Congregation, 17 June 1821, O.W. XVI
[ed. The Founder had forgotten to enter this in the Diary
at the appropriate time, and included it later]
A moment of great joy for the Missionaries and for Eugene in particular as he saw his ministry among the young people taking fruit. He presents a succinct summary of the type of priest that the Missionaries aimed to be:
to be pleasing to God,
to lead an exemplary lifestyle
and to be of service to people.
It was the same joy that Jesus must have experienced in the Gospel when the young man answered the question as to which was the greatest commandment:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” Luke 10:27-28
Hippolyte Courtès also answered correctly – with the oblation of his life to God expressed in priestly service to the most abandoned.
“Love is seen in what it does.” Gladys Aylward