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