After five years of existence we find the Missionaries gradually increasing in number and having to make decisions and adjust to new situations. Henri Tempier was at ND du Laus and finding life tough. He had written to Eugene to ask for an assistant:

Judge for yourself, I am superior over spiritual and temporal matters for a large community, rector of a parish, chaplain of a shrine and alternately professor of theology and philosophy

Letter of Henri Tempier to Eugene de Mazenod in Missions O.M.I., 1897, p. 179.

Eugene’s reply was not very comforting:

The idea of having two professors for two students is not to my liking especially in a Society where each ought to do the work of four.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 4 February 1821, E.O. VI n. 61

He had caught Eugene at a bad moment because there was the possibility of having to send men to Marseille for the foundation of a new community – and he was trying to work out how to fulfil all these commitments. In fact he was concerned and generously did send help. Yvon Beaudoin notes that the community of Laus had 24 members at the end of the year 1821, amongst whom there were a few fathers (Tempier, Touche, Courtès) and some coadjutor brothers.(Footnote 2 in E.O. VI n. 61) and several students.


“Phrases like ‘overworked and underpaid’ perpetuate that feeling.” Lena Bottos

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Timing is everything! I found myself bristling at Eugene’s response, and even Henri Tempier who knew Eugene so well, must of felt stung. “…is not to my liking especially in a Society where each ought to do the work of four.” As I’ve come to know Eugene a little better I’ve seen the amount of times he had to do some pretty fancy footwork to dance around the politics of the time, and to stretch both himself and his family to make sure all of “the bases and requests” were covered. I wonder how long it took him to think about his response and possiblely regret his wording. I wonder if at the moment of writing he didn’t feel so stretched and thin that he himself was being asked to do the work of four.

    One of the things that it took me a long time to learn over the course of my career was that I didn’t always have the full picture of what all was happening at work. I might propose a particular course of action (that would most certainly benefit myself and my colleagues) and could not understand why changes weren’t made right away or why my bosses didn’t jump at the opportunity that I was offering them. I didn’t have a full picture of what was going on in my greater section or department, I only knew that we were stretched to the limit with the policy of “do more with less” and didn’t think we could sustain it much longer. And as I look back, although changes were not immediate, they did happen eventually.

    How many times in the past have I been asked to help or so something immediately? “Can’t they see that I am a little buried at the moment and what the other is asking about and wanting to do right away is the least of my worries?” How many times have I reacted to them rather than responding? And how many times has a little or a long time passed and I felt sorrowful about how I snapped at that person or made sure they felt and knew my own frustration? How often has the “cock crowed” in my life?

    Today is the anniversary of my mother’s death, and although it is still early I find myself a little preoccupied on this 10th anniversary. And today will be a busy one, with many little things to do in a particular time frame for today we celebrate our Jubilarians. There will be many who will want to help and please God may I take the opportunity to let them do it with me, in love and good humor. May I be grateful. May today be a day of “we” and “us” and not “I”.

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