Eugene and his uncle were forced to stay on Paris for several months to prepare for Fortune’s episcopal ordination and all the work with the Government and Church for the reestablishment of the Diocese of Marseille, which had not existed independently for over 21 years. Structures had to be set up and people had to be appointed to run the administration. For this reason, Eugene sent Henri Tempier to spend some time in Marseille to gather whatever information was needed by Eugene and Fortuné in Paris. Tempier was also consulted on many decisions that had to be taken. One of them was as to who Fortuné should appoint as his second Vicar General and Tempier had suggested the name of a Father Ricaud. Eugene replied:

I had thought of the project which you proposed to me. M. [Ricaud] is certainly well apt to inspire confidence, but I will not hide from you that my uncle has eyes on another, and this other is you. I understand all you would reply to this but such is his idea.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 21 May 1823, EO VI n 104

Eugene supported the idea as he saw it as being “in the interests of the Society” of the Missionaries “to make this breakthrough” and which he saw a “wise and very appropriate.”

Eugene stressed to Tempier that Fortuné’s appointment as Bishop of Marseille was motivated by the need to assure the future of the Missionaries by having a Bishop to protect their interests and give them stability:

But it also must be said that the good of the Society has motivated a great deal the steps that I believed I had to take. One must also give credit to my uncle in that this same motive has always weighed much with him and, if he has been able to feel happy over his promotion, it was only in great part in the hope of bringing benefit to us. It is certain for that matter that he would never have accepted the burden, really too heavy for him, if he had not really counted on my devotedness and on that of the whole of our Society.

Eugene sums up the reasons why he had so actively promoted the appointment of Fortuné as

a bishop in order to provide our Society with the means to do good in the Church, to consolidate its existence, etc. I cannot, in conscience, after having contributed so powerfully to its rise, not provide it with the indispensable means to fulfil its task worthily. It cannot succeed therein without my help; I ought therefore to devote myself to it. But this obligation weighs on me only for having wished to achieve the good of the Society; therefore the Society owes to me the assistance which is necessary to fulfil my duty as best I can.

Letter to Henri Tempier, June 1823, EO VI n 107

Thus Henri Tempier was to join Eugene in Marseille and remain at his side until 1861.

“This was one of the heaviest crosses that Father Tempier bravely carried for nearly the next 40 years.”      Yvon Beaudoin

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There is within me a small piece of joy as I read this. When I first started to learn about Eugene I saw him as very political – he knew how to manoeuvre his way around the politics of the time and do what he must for his ‘society’, his new and growing family. I did not regard how he did what did and how he did it as distasteful, but I let it be somehow ‘removed’ from me. Are we so very different though? Am I so very different? I think of some of the things I have done in my life, even some of the ‘ministries’ within my parish community. I have surrounded myself with like-minded people, we supported each other. I got ‘bigger names’ [than mine] to support us, lend us their names and expertise – all with a view to supporting and protecting and growing our endeavors. And as I joined with others the “I” became “we”, all of us coming from different starting points, to be and work together.

    I look at the groups of Oblate Associates [no matter what name we choose to go by] around the world. A gift from God for all of us for sure – each of us coming together and joining a base that is already there, strong, solid, and building on it. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people, to support and share with each other and inviting and accepting new people as they come.

    Again the image of Jesus at the centre, heart a-fire with that moving out, back and forth. All of us becoming one in a way as we share this charism, this particular spirit of love.

    Eugene knew instinctively what he needed for his ‘society’ to flourish and grow, to protect it, and also what he needed in order to be able to give his “all” in a way that was ongoing, a living way of being. I am thinking of all that he “let go of” to be at Fortuné’s side in Marseille as his Vicar. He asked no less of his dearest and closest friend Henri Tempier, who in saying yes also “let go of” much and gave his “all” to follow the path he would walk (not once but many times).

    The thought “No one has greater love than this, that one should lay down his life for his friends.” Something we are all called to. Something we see certainly in the life of Eugene as he gave his all to God. Something we/I are not used to focussing on with regard to the Henri Tempier’s of the world, those whose all is often carrying the lamp for their neighbors feet as they walk in the dark.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Tempier is the real Saint.
    How did he do what he did, while having the “back of the founder”. A way of saying, he was always protecting the founder from others and from himself.
    Each of us need a “Tempier” in our lives.

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