Marius Suzanne described the ceremony thru which the Missionaries began what was to be an Oblate ministry that lasted for 161 years. The Calvaire became a place of permanent mission to the people of Marseille, continuing the evangelization that had begun during the city mission the year before.

Although the ceremony had been announced on the day, the crowd was enormous: a remarkable gathering of people from all walks of life filled the square and the surrounding area. It was a day of celebration for the people who acknowledged the Missionaries who had evangelized them.

The Superior’s speech was full of sensitivity, dignity and natural simplicity. He recalled the fruits of the mission, the general enthusiasm it had excited and said

“It was through weak men that God had worked such great things, but men who were animated and strengthened with the greatest courage because of the mission that the Bishop had entrusted them with when he had given them the cross, saying: Sumite signum, in hoc signo vincetis. Take this sign, it is by this sign that you will conquer.”

Then he turned to those who had persevered and to the sinners who had fallen, and he assured each one of the dedication of the ministry of the Missionaries. Finally, turning to the clergy, he said that the ceremony was performed as a covenant by which the missionaries and priests united and consecrated themselves together at the foot of the cross for the salvation of this generous people, to which they had been sent by the first Pastor of the Diocese, responding to the desires and wishes that had been expressed by his zealous cooperators.

“All were satisfied with this speech the people listened in silence: the voice of the Superior reverberated in the distance and was perfectly understood. Happiness was expressed on every face: it was like the renewal of the Mission. Since that day the Missionaries say Mass at the Calvaire, which is never empty. “

Memoires of M. Suzanne quoted in Rey I


“God took the worst thing that man could do to his Son, and transformed it into the best thing he could do for man. “         Anonymous

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Build it and they will come.” That phrase made famous from a movie, yet really thats what Eugene was doing with the missions that he set up, responding to a need. No sureness at all, it was simply done, under the sign of a cross. I look today and and some of the shrines seem to have changed, and there is not always a huge cross erected and yet it is there, be it on a lapel, worn around the neck, or hidden in the heart where only eyes open to love see it.

    This is most definitely one of those soft ‘aha’ mornings. The title alone envelopes and I have the image of being drawn to the foot of the cross, cozying down and sitting into it. Perhaps today the Cross shall be my food for the day.

    I share with you my experience of invitation this morning. As I approach the cross I look with great care at it. This cross – the wood that is rough with splinters, there are nails, not nice perfectly shaped and shin,y but big spikes that are dull and dirty. It feels hard and unforgiving, a thing that is full of fear, anger, hatred, violence and death. A part of me wants to recoil and back away from it, to look away, but I cannot. This thing that “God took the worst thing that man could do to his Son,…”.

    Another deep searching glance, a simple touch, a small caress. Reverance, love and a growing yearing. Transformation is happening – in the cross itself or is it in how I come to it, my heart. The wood though still hard and rough feels natural and there is something akin to pleasure as I move my fingers across it. The spikes still dull bring images of the pain and suffering that they caused and I find myself filled with sorrow and compassion because a tiny hidden part of me can almost feel it physically for a blink of time. The fear and hatred, the violence and death give way to a sense of having let go and experiencing the greatest tenderness ever and the mercy of forgiveness. There is light overtaking the darkness, and new life from the death. “…and transformed it into the best thing he [God] could do for man.”

    Today Lord, I welcome the new life, I thank you for it, and I ask for the grace to live that out.

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