Eugene’s letter of acceptance of this project in Marseille shows the criteria the Missionaries used in accepting to begin a third house. He wrote to the Board of the Work of Divine Providence:

Gentlemen, when one of your respected associates came to me on your behalf to sound out my attitude towards the project you were envisaging, I had to tell him that I gladly shared your views, for they were in perfect harmony with the spirit of our Rule and with the desire we entertain to cooperate as much as we can in the welfare of a city whose population is so dear to us.
It was a matter of establishing a house of our Society under the roof which serves as shelter to the children of Providence, so that the members of this house, while attending to the different works of their ministry, could also apply themselves to the spiritual direction of these children.

Eugene underlined the words “spiritual direction” in the letter because he was stressing that the Missionaries were not going to take over the material running of the orphanage, but they were taking on the responsibility for the evangelization and ongoing spiritual welfare of these young people.

The Missionaries would not be bound to the orphanage in a full-time capacity, but it would be their residence from which they would minister to other sectors of the population of Marseille – a project agreed to by the pastors of the city:

It was all the easier for me to accept in advance the proposal presented to me because I felt confident that, in agreeing thereto, I would be responding to the wishes of all the persons of good will in Marseilles, and especially to the desire expressed by the parish priests of this city. When consulted about the proposal to set up an establishment of Missionaries, the latter honored our Society with unanimous support.
In answer to your letter of the 17th instant that you did me the honor of writing wherein you sent me an excerpt of your deliberations of April 16th, in which you propose that I establish a house of our Congregation on your premises, I have only to ratify the consent I had given previously.
With thanks, therefore, I accept the offer you make to me and the premises you provide for our accommodation in your establishment.

Letter to the Directors of the Oeuvre de la Providence, at Marseilles,
20 April 1821, EO XIII n. 38


“A Christian should always remember that the value of his good works is not based on their number and excellence, but on the love of God which prompts him to do these things.”       John of the Cross

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    At first glance this morning I found myself saying ‘well there’s not a whole lot here today’ – a sure sign that I better go back, read it again, sit with it and see where it leads me. Sure enough, I found much to reflect on.

    I realised the wisdom Eugene employed by stressing the missionaries would be there for the spiritual direction of the orphans, not the administration of the house itself, while at the same time securing a base, a residence for them to move out from and “attend to the different works of their ministry”.

    That ability to focus, to remain focused on what God was calling him and the members of his society to be and do. It was not to do all things, but to do certain things, exceedingly well.

    What do I need to focus on today? What are the distractions that I myself can and do create that pull me away from what I must do and how I must do it? A gentle reminder that I cannot be all things to all people and that I need to be attentive to what God has called me to – it is enough. Show me the way Lord.

  2. John Mouck says:

    I don’t quite understand this because, to me, it is not Oblate in nature. In fact, it is not even Christian in spirit.
    If a hungry person comes to your door, it is fine to tell them they are precious, valuable children of God and to say, “God loves you. He has a plan for you. Everything will be fine. Go in the peace of Christ.” But these words are empty if you send them away still hungry.
    So, I hear Eugene say, ‘We will come and help alright but all we are doing is preaching.’
    And then I think of others, say Mother Theresa, who filled the souls of those she encountered with a little food for their belly.
    I think I need an explanation here.

    • franksantucci says:

      Mother Theresa’s CHARISM is to feed the hungry etc. Eugene’s CHARISM is to be a preacher of the Gospel. Look at St Paul’s explanation of the charisms in the church in I Corinthians 12. Now EVERY Christian is called to live the Gospel in all its aspects (including Eugene and Mother Teresa). A charism highlights one particular aspect of that Gospel but does not exclude all the others. A Church made up of only Eugenes or only Teresas would not get very far – the body needs all its parts to function in harmony. Each one points to the importance of its specific aspect but does not exclude the others.

      • John Mouck says:

        That Paul was a smart man wasn’t he. And so are you, Frank.
        Thank you.
        (I feel like one of “the lesser parts” of the body with all my questions *smiles*)

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