Family was important for Eugene. We have seen something of the role he played in the family of his sister, Eugenie de Boisgelin, and particularly how he accompanied the illness and death of his niece, Caroline. Now, back in Marseille, and physically and emotionally drained by those events, his mother had invited him to spend some days with her at the home of her cousin Roze Joannis in Grans.

My dear mother, I would very much have wanted to accept your invitation and come to spend a week with you in Grans. It would have been a real joy for me, but it all came too soon and I would have had to leave too soon. After the time that I have been absent, I need to get on top of what has been happening and I do not understand how it is that I have been diverted until the present moment. I thus have to give up this project, as pleasant as it would have been.

Letter to his mother, 16 August 1825, General Archives Rome, AGR MJ I-1

The love that he had for his family was the training ground for the love he showed in his ministry for those he worked with, and in a special way for the Oblates. The only model that he had of the Oblate congregation was that of a family centered on God – of which he was the father.


“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” Desmond Tutu

This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning my reflection as been a long tortuous one, filled with feelings of weakness, guilt, shame, defiance, courage, strength, love and acceptance. I am talking about my birth family, about myself (growing up and now) and about life I guess. In truth much of what I have learned about family and community has come from others. It all seems to be coming together. Yesterday I listened to an Oblate share with me about his family the the joy and the strength in being a member of that unit and the freedom that it allowed him to be who he is, from those roots he continues to draw strength and a strong sense of who his and why he is the way that he is. As I listened I found myself experiencing a sense of awe and wonder at the way his family was, the way they loved. He had grown up with this sense of family and it was something that I am only now beginning to consciously realise. I have myself in some ways experienced this with members of my parish family over the years, and with a family that informally adopted me as one of their own. It has been good and I can say in all truth and with gratitude that I have been loved and cared for.

    I was stunned to read the quote from Desmond Tutu. I thought I had created that idea for I have often said “That God’s gift to me are the Oblates, and I am God’s gift to them.” There is truth in it. There is also truth that it has been thus for not only my parish family and my adopted family but also for my birth family. It is from all of these that I have learned and continue to learn love. It is more than a little humbling to realise all that God gives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *