Joseph-Hippolyte Guibert, a young man from Aix en Provence, had joined the novitiate but, soon after, had been pressurized by his father to leave. A few weeks later he had returned and Eugene wrote about this to express his happiness to the community.

Let Guibert know what pleasure I felt on learning of his return to the house. His conduct will be remembered in our Society and he can be assured that it has gained for him in advance, so to speak, the affection that one ordinarily obtains only after much time and long trials.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 6 March 1823, EO VI n 95

To Guibert himself, Eugene wrote:

I have not waited until today, my dear friend, to express my joy to you; too much have I shared in your happiness and too much do I value it not to thank the good God first and then to rejoice with the family to which you have so suddenly returned as a result of the protection of God over you and over us.

In expressing his satisfaction, Eugene referred to “a kind of presentiment I had from the first day I saw you.” It refers to his appreciating the value of this young man and the responsibilities that he would have in the Church: at 24 he was to be appointed novice master, at 27 he became superior of Notre Dame du Laus, at 34 he became superior of the major seminary of Ajaccio, then Bishop of Viviers, Archbishop of Tours, Archbishop of Paris and Cardinal.

Eugene recognized in this young man someone who had deeply understood the charism of the Missionaries, and who would become a driving-force in the Oblates:

All that augurs well for the good there will be for us to do together in the fold of the Church ravaged by so many beasts.
So let us ever be united in the same spirit.

Letter to Joseph Guibert, 19 March 1823, EO VI n 97


A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”    John C. Maxwell


This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am enjoying what Eugene has written here. He has acknowleged and expressed his love and joy with Joseph Guibert. I notice for some reason the order of his responses; “to thank the good God first and then to rejoice with the family to which you have so suddenly returned as a result of the protection of God over you and over us.” Of course – that’s how it should be and is – or is it? When going to meet someone, or bringing someone new into a group do I first thank God and then rejoice, or do I rejoice with the community and then later remember to thank God. Of course it’s both, but just a thought that I found myself exploring.

    I love also how immediately we see the connection between not just Eugene and Joseph Guibert, but between the entire family and Joseph. “….as a result of the protection of God over you and over us.” There is no ‘lets wait and see how this turns out’, or ‘you will need to prove yourself’, rather Eugene acknowledges Joseph as a member of the famly through God.

    And then, the last sentence from Eugene in his letter to Joseph; “So let us ever be united in the same spirit.” He spoke of that same spirit, same charism in a letter to Henri Tempier a year earlier. He speaks of it to us today through his writings and these reflections from Frank. He speaks to all of us who enjoy, who take and give joy, as members of the Mazenodian family. It is to me a direct invitation from Eugene. It is to me a direct reminder to focus on what we share, what brings us together and keeps us connected to each other. It reminds me to celebrate, not only Eugene who first received and then shared this spirit, not only what God has given to me, not only what God has given to each of us, but also to celebrate and give thanks for who we are as a community, as a family.

    We will not all be Joseph Guiberts, and our responsibilities and responses may be hidden and not quite so evident, but nevertheless don’t those small quiet smiles light up our hearts just as much as the big explosive fireworks. It is a wondrous thing to pause, to look and see how with being united in the charism that it is together we come into being who God has created us to be, alone and together. The beginnings of heaven on earth.

  2. David Morgan says:

    This is bizarre. I had just finished reading Luke 15:11-32 the prodigal son parable and then I clicked on this post.

    While the circumstance is much different, the rejoicing Eugene expresses over Joseph-Hippolyte return is similar to that expressed by the father of the prodigal son. One wonders if the others Brothers did not feel at least a little pang of jealousy or rivalry given he wrote publicly about this.

    That is not the point though. Eugene is clearly acting as the Father of his flock. His love for Joseph and his return, in no way diminishes his love for each other member of the community. It is a metaphor for God’s love for each and everyone of us regardless of circumstance.

    Judging by ‘the career Joseph- Hippolyte subsequently had, Eugene demonstrates his shrewdness in judging character and talent. Finally one wonders about Josephs dad – did he become proud of his son’s decision or did he remain angry? If he and Eugene met, what did they say to each other?

    The Prodigal Dad.

    • Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

      Oh thank you David – have not really thought of it that way. I wonder if we don’t have a little bit of both the prodigal daughter/son and the prodigal mother/father in each of us. I also love what you wrote about “God’s love for each and everyone of us regardless of circumstance.” How wondrous is that! That is one of those thoughts that brings a smile of pure joy and celebration to my being.

Leave a Reply to Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *