Eugene rejoices with fatherly pride at the priestly ordination of a member of his beloved Youth Congregation and of his Missionaries. Writing in the Youth Diary, and from the point of view of the youth he reflected:

On July 31… the Youth Congregation gave God’s Church the most precious gift that it could make her…
And it is with good reason that the Congregation can pride herself on the gift she made then to the Church as M. Hippolyte Courtès is one of the first of the congregants, one who was raised in her bosom, who grew up under her shade, one who was formed in her school.
His confreres were deprived of the consolation of being present at his ordination and hearing his first Mass. He was ordained in Gap and offered the holy Sacrifice for the first time in the sanctuary of Notre Dame du Laus. The congregants could not then be witnesses of the signal favours and abundant gifts the Lord was pleased to shower on this new priest, genuine first fruits offered to God by the Congregation. They were not however strangers to all that passed on that happy day…

Diary of the Youth Congregation, 17 June 1821, O.W. XVI

In his ministry to the young people of Aix, Eugene had built up the Youth Congregation to have a family spirit. One of his favourite images for its role was that of a mother. The Congregation was maternal in its care to nurture the young men to develop in their humanity, to become Christians and to form them in the way of sanctity. Hippolyte Courtès was a first fruit of this “mother” as “one who was raised in her bosom, who grew up under her shade, one who was formed in her school.”

Eugene could have placed his own name together with “mother” because of his own “parental” role towards each member.

Father Courtès was to remain a close confidant of the Founder for the rest of his life.


“God has created me to do him some definitive service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission.”    John Henry Newman

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I guess I have the image of “family” as I reflect on this – both mother and father – parents – everything that goes with those words. In this case the community, the early congregation members are the ones parenting, nourishing, teaching, guiding, coming into relationship with. It all grows and flourishes with time.

    I see that today in parish settings, I think in most, but of course most particular to me in my parish. I see it particularly with the Oblates, amongst each other and with those young men who are studying in and learning and becoming Oblates themselves. I see it with the Oblates and the Associates. The invitation, the growing relationships, the mentoring and the teaching (formation), the being with, the deepening friendships. And just like it was with Eugene and Hippolyte Courtès the relationships, the friendships grow and mature with some becoming stronger and closer than others (that is how it is in families and relationships).

    Isn’t it awesome how none of that detracts from our love of God but only enhances it!

    I pondered a bit with the quote from Newman. Not disagreeing with it all but needing to have a better sense of it, a fuller meaning. Thinking of Eugene and his friendship with Courtès – not detracting from the love shared with anyone else. Am wondering if that definitive service, that work committed to no other has something to do with our uniqueness as persons, the very gift of ourselves.

    I am struck for a second by the image (if I can use that word) of being loved by God just as I have been created to be loved. It is not a matter of being loved any less or any more than another – just enough – just as I have been created to be loved. How awesome is that!

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