The growth in the number of vocations made it possible for Eugene to explore the possibilities of the establishment of a fourth center of mission for the Oblates. His attempt in Nice had not met with success, and so he responded to the invitation from the Bishop of Nimes.
I went to see the Bishop to share my ideas with him. He entered perfectly into my views and showed me he has the best of intentions. He agrees that the establishment, such as had been planned for Alais, was not feasible and you would have been surprised to see how he understood at first sight what we are and what we aim to do.
I did not hide from him that, having no greater desire than to work in conformity with our vocation, our ambition was to extend and propagate the work which the Lord had confided to us, I thus did not fear to admit to him that I would be very pleased to be able to establish a community close to him, in his episcopal city, and that this was the place which was suitable to us because, being the aides de camp of the bishops, it was necessary that we be habitually within reach to receive their orders, etc.
I entered into some details about our spirit and our manner of life, etc. He found all that I said to his liking and assured me in the most sincere manner that he must take up this project.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 7 April 1825, EO VI n. 176
The Bishop understood the vocation and spirit of these Missionaries and invited them to minister in Nimes. Eugene uses the expression “aides de camp” to the Bishop. It refers to persons who are at the service of an important person and available to assist that person when necessary. Within weeks they were already present in the diocese, and their missionary outreach for the next five years was to consist of mission preaching, retreats, prison ministry and the establishment of a public chapel as a center of permanent mission.
Because Nimes was outside of Provence, this group of missionaries to the most abandoned changed their name from “Missionaries of Provence” to “Oblates of Saint Charles” – in honor of the great pastoral missionary, Saint Charles Borromeo, who was also the patron of the Mazenod family. The name never took on, and within months we adopted the definitive title of Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
“Christ’s call is to save the lost, not the stiff-necked; He came not to call scoffers but sinners to repentance; not to build and furnish comfortable chapels, churches, and cathedrals at home in which to rock Christian professors to sleep by means of clever essays, stereotyped prayers, and artistic musical performances, but to capture men from the devil’s clutches and the very jaws of Hell. This can be accomplished only by a red-hot, unconventional, unfettered devotion, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the Lord Jesus Christ.” C. T. Studd