With the French patriots, the account says, threatening to overrun the whole of Piedmont, my father did not feel his family to be safe in Turin: he made the decision to leave this city to move to Venice, and take shelter in the lagoons of a republic which he thought would be respected by the French republicans.
Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI p. 32

Eugene’s visit to Turin in 1825 would have revived all these memories of his boyhood experience 29 years earlier. Living through eleven years of exile had given him an understanding of what exiles and immigrants experience. Later, as a priest and bishop this was to lead him to reach out and minister to others in that situation: Austrian prisoners of war, Italian dock-workers in Marseille, child chimney-sweepers from Savoy etc.

It is a ministry that the Oblates continue today in a multi-cultural world more increasingly marked by movements of peoples, with distressing consequences of marginalization and abandonment.

We will let our lives be enriched by the poor and the marginalized as we work with them, for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim. We must always be sensitive to the mentality of the people, drawing on the riches of their culture and religious traditions.

CC&RR, Rule 8a

“Only the misfortune of exile can provide the in-depth understanding and the overview into the realities of the world.”      Stefan Zweig

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Today’s writings have led me down a lane of memories and even further.

    Although never have I had to flee my own country, for which I am incredibly grateful, I have had to leave a life which I knew well, change completely, start over fresh and learn all new ways of living. I am an alcoholic and a drug addict and in order to simply survive I had to leave my friends, my favorite haunts, my way of living – all in order to live. Perhaps not something as great as what Eugene experienced in his life, but it seemed pretty big to me, and was I suspect every bit as difficult. At that time alcoholism was thought of as a disease – for men. So there were meetings of AA that I was barred from attending and even the local detox center was strictly for men. I had to be content with less. Upon sobering up I had to prove myself – to others and to myself. Nobody understands what the alcoholic goes through quite so much as another alcoholic.

    Its funny but I have never thought of my experiences with those of an exile, or even with being treated as less than until this morning. It doesn’t make it any better or any worse than another’s pain and struggle, but it does certainly it easier perhaps to understand, to empathize and love.

    I think also of the people of God, whose history is that of being brought out of exile, in the Old and the New Testament, how that continued throughout time and continues today, not so much as our walking through, but of being carried. That has also been my experience

    “We will let our lives be enriched by the poor and the marginalized as we work with them, for they can make us hear in new ways the Gospel we proclaim.” How do I live this out? In whom do I find myself? In whom do I find the very face of God which I seek?

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