Having agreed to send some of his Missionaries to Marseille to do youth ministry with the orphans, Eugene was surprised when the Archbishop began to insist that they also had to take over the responsibility for the ministry of the Calvaire (which was the name referring to the hill of Calvary on which the mission cross had been placed).
It was wonderful for Eugene to have generous mission dreams, but when he looked at the personnel available to look after three missions (Aix, Laus and Marseille) and the demanding ministry of preaching prolonged parish missions, reality dawned on him: they were only eight priests!
The historian Leflon takes up the story:
Two weeks later, with a haste that cannot but surprise us, just as it surprised Father de Mazenod himself, the Bishop authorized the latter to go immediately to Marseilles to take possession of the Calvaire which had been erected there to commemorate the mission of 1820. Guigou, the vicar-general, was the one assigned by the Archbishop to notify the interested party of this formal order which was to be carried out immediately. Astonished by such prompt and unexpected resoluteness, the Founder hesitated, doubtful of the message he had received. He was then summoned to the Archbishop’s palace and went there accompanied by the scholastic brother Suzanne who gave the following eye-witness report:
The bishop urged Father de Mazenod, even pleaded with him, and the Superior kept repeating the same answer:
‘I shall obey if I am ordered, but I am sure it will be detrimental to my community.’ …
Again he urged the Superior, and seeing that he was still hesitant, the prelate went over to Brother Suzanne, took the hands of the subdeacon and said to him, ‘Come now, Brother; persuade your Superior to go and take possession of the Calvaire.’ Finally yielding to such earnest entreaties, the Superior then declared he was ready to obey, and the archbishop, embracing him, said, ‘Good, then; make ready to leave today. Father Guigou will give you a letter to take with you.’
Leflon Volume 2, p. 181
Eugene confided to Henri Tempier:
I have come from Marseilles to conclude the matter of our establishment there… But how will our community live there? I have no idea.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 April 1821, EO VI n. 67
Humanly, it called for a big act of faith because he had recognized the call of God in this situation thru the voice of the Archbishop. It was the “call of Jesus Christ, heard within the Church through people’s need for salvation” (CC&RR, Constitution 1).
“We turn to God for help when our foundations are shaking only to learn that it is God shaking them.” Charles West