It was in the context of the first death among the Missionaries that André Sumien had written to Eugene, who responded:
You speak to me, my dear friend, of all the crosses and persecutions that I have experienced since the beginning of the Society. I would have been quite annoyed if such had not been the case.
Eugene’s response was to recognize that suffering and persecution were God’s seal of approval on their mission:
Do you not know that it is the seal of the hand of God upon us? And how could it be otherwise? How can you expect the demon not to make every possible effort to shake us and arouse at the same time all the tempests from outside of us when he sees his kingdom attacked and so many pickings snatched from his aggressiveness? It could not be otherwise. It is ever thus that he has acted from Abel down to us. One must read on this subject the admirable letters of Saint Paul, one finds therein many subjects of consolation for he passed by all the trials, as other saints have.
He concludes by reaffirming the necessity of the foundational principle of the life of the Oblates – “BE in order to DO”
Let us be firm in goodness, walk ever in the paths of the Lord by practising exactly what our vocation prescribes for us. Let us encourage each other, be united and all will go well because we will accomplish the will of God.
Letter to André Sumien, 2 May 1823, EO VI n.103
“Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.” Letter to the Romans 5:3-5