My very dear friend, I arrived this morning at Rome too late to have the happiness of saying holy Mass… This is the first day since my departure from Genoa that I have been deprived of this consolation. This inconvenience, which I felt very keenly, was a sort of omen of the disasters which I was to learn from your letter of November 10, (no. 1) which pierced me with the most acute sorrow. I had been so happy during my journey! …all that was different from the sorrowful effect that the sinister news had on my soul.

Henri Tempier had written to inform Eugene of the misconduct of Father Vachon, who left the Oblates in November, and of five novices who did not complete their novitiate.

It is a very severe trial, I must admit in the isolation in which I find myself; I have already uttered my sighs to the Lord as lovingly as I possibly could at the benediction that I have been to receive in the church of the Gesù, a few hours after my arrival in this capital of the Christian world.

We do not know what Vachon had done. A later letter from Father Dupuy tells how he had asked to become part of the Diocese of Digne as a diocesan priest, but that “the Bishop is filled with indignation against him” and “how horrible his crime was.” (“Bernard Vachon” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary I)

I fear greatly that the unfortunate one who has just apostasized may be an accomplished scoundrel. After the short retreat that I made him make at Marseilles, he renewed his vows and gave me in writing the expression of his repentance. You must not hesitate to expel him. I give you the power to dispense him when you will have consulted the Assistants supposing, as I do, that no doubt they are of the same mind. Expel M. Vachon, he has deserved it a thousand times.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 26 November 1825, EO VI n. 208

 Yvon Beaudoin, in the Historical Dictionary continues: “After the name of Vachon in the Registry of entries at the novitiate, Father de Mazenod wrote: ‘He apostatized in an unworthy manner which leads one to suppose that he perjured himself from the day of his oblation, that is, he only entered the Congregation to get ordained to the priesthood with the set purpose of leaving as soon as he was ordained in spite of his vows and the oath that he swore’.”


“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” Martin Luther King, Jr.


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I must admit to being a little curious as to what Bernard Vachon did, but I don’t suppose that it really matters why he left. Whatever his sin was it is readily evident that he was loved in spite of weaknesses, and those he left behind, including Eugene, felt betrayed.

    I must ask myself if my life is any different,if I am any different. When I think back over my life to the times I have done something that has betrayed the love of family, friends, colleagues. Having the excuse of being sick as with addictions does not lessen any of it, does not justify it. And there have been times when I have felt wronged, when my love has been betrayed. The wrong whether big or small creates pain and sorrow (be it that of a parent, a friend, a co-worker, a lover…) that seems can only be dealt with by walking through it, with God. In his own words Eugene said “…I have already uttered my sighs to the Lord as lovingly as I possibly …”. When I think of all the times in my life that God has forgiven me, forgiven my betrayals big and small, too many for me to count. When I think of the times I have turned to God for consolation, myself needing to forgive – a much slower process than it ever is with the Lord.

    Eugene loved so greatly, with all that he was and it must have been so incredibly hard to tell Tempier to expel Vachon, even in anger born from hurt it must have been hard. And then called to love all over again, to continue loving with everything that he was.

    What am I called to? To whom must I ask for forgivenss? Who must I forgive? Who must I make that extra effort to love? As I start out this day may it be in gratitude for all the love that I receive, in forgiveness which is nothing less than the very breath of God and with open arms to embrace all I meet today.

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