During the lull in summer activities in the diocese of Marseille, Eugene took the opportunity to respond to an invitation to minister to the needs of a group in the city of Nice – which at that stage was not a part of France, but of the Kingdom of Sardinia. The Sardinian government had asked the police to engage the church authorities in a program of rehabilitation of a group of men who were described as being “scandalous sinners” (Rey I p. 336). The government had given the ancient monastery of St Pons to the diocese for this purpose.
The pastor of the Nice cathedral consequently invited Eugene to preach a retreat for these men, and it was at this monastery that Eugene and Marius Suzanne did this. The Bishop of Nice had proposed that Eugene send Missionaries to take over the monastery and make it a center of mission for the diocese – a proposal accepted by Eugene because of the needy situation of the diocese. Describing the situation to Henri Tempier, Eugene wrote:
The clergy is non-existent in this region; there are only two persons able to preach and everything is in need of reform. One of the directors of the seminary has recently come to me and revealed dismal things; I see before us an ample harvest, the glory of God is evidently implicated in this great work we are going to undertake; everyone… is delighted, enchanted, but we must place someone here who will fulfil their hopes, especially in regard to preaching.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 14 July 1824, EO VI n 146.
“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.” Sai Baba