Even though the major part of Eugene’s time and energy were now spent on serving the Church in Marseille, his foremost preoccupation was always the Missionary Oblates. As Founder and Superior General he took an active interest in everything connected with the Society.

The average age of the group was in the mid 20’s. Thus his foremost concern was that of maintaining the Missionaries faithful to their God-given charism by ensuring that everything that they did was in accordance with this spirit.

His concern was expressed in the first place in guiding the men and ministry of those who were preaching parish missions. A lot of his correspondence deals with this.

Then he was concerned about the health of his Missionaries. They were young and enthusiastic and fell into the same traps of reckless zeal as he had previously. Some examples:

But in the meantime, you have to admit that you are inexcusable for having kept silent about a swelling that is so troubling, for having said nothing to me about what you were going through during the strenuous octaves [ed. conducting eight days of preaching and prayer for various groups] that followed one after another and that you got into a situation miserable both for yourself and for those who would have to continue them after you.

Letter to Marius Suzanne,11 November 1823, EO VI n 119

He fusses about their health and welfare:

one must take precautions well in advance for a locality so difficult of access. Please God that the very day of your arrival you will think of sending me news of yourself and quieten the anxiety in which I am going to be until the moment when I will have the certitude that you are safely arrived in port. If I were in the group, that would seem nothing to me; but when I think of the accident with the horse on your journey to the Great Chartreuse, I shudder…
The first thing to do on arriving at Entrevaux, is to buy cloth or, better still perhaps the material necessary to make yourself the kind of shawl which will protect you from the cold in the confessional. If the knitted waistcoat that you have is not warm enough, you must procure another immediately. Also buy some canvas footwear so as not to risk slipping on the ice. Remember your fall at Tallard which still irks me. In a word, take all precautions not to suffer from the piercing cold of those mountains to which we are not accustomed. Watch over our good Father Mie also lest he be in want of something. As for Dupuy, I think it is needless for me to recommend him to you, he is prudent enough to provide for his needs.
It is indispensable that you eat something with cream every day to strengthen your chest…

Letter to Marius Suzanne,19 November 1823, EO VI n 120


“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.”      Corrie Ten Boom

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What an incredibly tender picture this portrays, of Eugene loving his brothers, his sons. He was ‘mothering’ them – because he loved them. It wasn’t just some sort of ‘holy and spiritual’ love, it was down-to-earth, real, lived. “Write” – he demands. Not as soon as you get settled in, or have a meal, but right away so that I know you have made it there safely. There was an urgency to his request because he wanted, needed to hear that they were okay. And then he went on to remind him [Marius] how to take care of himself and dress warmly. He didn’t want them to become sick as he did. And he knows each of them, Dupuy will be okay on his own, but Fr. Mie – Marius will have to watchout for him. Loving and serving each other. Eugene cared for each of them, body and soul, the whole person. His heart wide open. This is but another glimpse of family, of community.

    I read yesterday, Jack Lau’s account of the February 17th celebration at the Novitiate in Illinois, of their introduction to the Centre of Hope, where they would minister, of their sharing of a meal, singing and serving each other, loving.

    To be a witness to this love, then and now is to somehow share in it. An unexpected gift which I find myself responding to it with a joy that is itself a quiet embrace, one that colours and gives life to the start of this day. I am filled with gratitude for this small [but not mundane] wonder .

    Thank you Frank [and Jack] for sharing this, Eugene’s writings and love, your experiences, thoughts and reflections. It truly is a gift.

  2. Jack Lau, OMI says:

    Yes, I smiled as I read these letters and reflections.
    Some things don’t change.
    “Where is your hat, what about a jacket and please a scarf around your throat so that you don’t get sick again.”
    The spirit and tenderness of Eugene lives on!!!!

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