Not everyone in Aix was happy about Eugene’s departure and there was a sense of loss and insecurity in the community caused by the absence of this strong personality. Marseille was also not the only diocese in the south of France to be restored after the Revolution. The same thing happened in the neighboring diocese of Fréjus, and the new Bishop was looking for clergy. His attention was fixed on two of his men who were Missionaries in Aix and he began to demand their return.
Yvon Beaudoin explains the background: “Fathers Deblieu and Maunier, first companions of the Founder, left the Society in October, 1823. They accused Fathers de Mazenod and Tempier of having accepted the position of Vicars General of Marseilles and thus compromising the future of the Society and sacrificing it to the interests of a diocese and perhaps being motivated even by personal ambition (RAMBERT, I, 374). This, however, was only a pretext. They came from the diocese of Fréjus which, like Marseilles, had just been re-established. The new bishop, Bishop C. A. de Richery recalled priests originating in his territory and declared null any engagements taken in prejudice of a third party, by priests who had previously promised obedience to a bishop. Already little inclined to the exigencies of religious life and henceforth disengaged from their vows and attracted by promises of important functions, the two Fathers profited from the circumstances to return to Fréjus.” (Footnote EO VI n. 114)
Hippolyte Courtès was now the superior of the Aix community and had written to inform Eugene of Deblieu’s imminent departure. Eugene responded:
Although I was expecting for a long time, my dear friend, the apostasy whereof you announce the imminent explosion, this infamy is so monstrous that I can scarcely persuade myself that it be possible. This is the end result of so much patience and support given to a member more imperfect than it is possible to conceive…
…Adieu, my dear beloved, your sentiments are for my heart truly a consolation; but, in this painful circumstance, it costs me much not to be surrounded by all my true children so that we may help each other mutually to bear a misfortune which is common to us, since it weighs on the Society.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 9 October 1823, EO VI n. 114
“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.