From the time that Eugene brought the Oblates into existence in 1816 until the papal approbation, he insisted on the necessity for a commonly accepted vision statement and a rule of life that would keep all the members in communion with this vision. Basically, he had put into writing the principles that guided him in his own ministry and invited others to share in his mission.

Papal approval of our Rule of Life meant that the Church recognized that it was an authentic expression of a Gospel way of life for the Oblates.


Moreover, having consulted in council the Congregation of Our Venerable Brothers, the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, who have charge of the Affairs and Questions of Bishops and Regulars, We, with the plenitude of Our Apostolic Authority, approve and confirm its Constitutions, which some of the Bishops of France have deemed deserving of the most praiseworthy testimonials, which testimonials many of them have even signed with their own hand in order to impart greater authority to them. We further command that these Constitutions be faithfully observed by all the members of this Congregation, whatever be the position they hold in it.
This approbation and commendation are given all the more willingly to such a salutary enterprise, because the members of this Congregation in their exterior ministry of preaching the word of God and of administering the sacraments make open profession of reverence, submission, and obedience to allBishops in communion with the Roman See who wish to employ their aid and services in their respective dioceses, and we feel convinced that they will continue to act in this manner. In addition, We, by Our Apostolic Authority, supply and remedy whatever defects of right or fact may have creptinto theframingof these same Rules.
…Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, under the Fisherman’s Ring, on the twenty first day of March, 1826, in the third year of Our Pontificate.
Pope Leo XII

Apostolic Letter of Approbation, 21 March 1826, Missions O.M.I., n° 280 (1952), pp. 118, 138.

In our first Rule of Life, Eugene had written about the need for this as a source of missionary strength:

But it is not enough for them simply to be convinced of the sublime nature of the ministry to which they have been called. The example of the saints and reason itself make it amply clear that the success of such a holy undertaking as well as the maintenance of discipline in any society make certain rules of life absolutely necessary for unity of thought and action among the members. Such unity is a body’s strength, keeping up its fervor and insuring that it lasts.
Wherefore, while pledging themselves to all the works of zeal which priestly charity can inspire – above all, to the work of the missions, which is the main reason for their union – these priests, joined together in a society, resolve to obey the following Constitutions and Rules; by living them they hope to obtain all the benefits they need for their own sanctification and for the salvation of souls.

Preface of the CC&RR

“A lot of people put pressure on themselves and think it will be way too hard for them to live out their dreams. Mentors are there to say, ‘Look, it’s not that tough. It’s not as hard as you think. Here are some guidelines and things I have gone through to get to where I am.’   Joe Jonas

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I thought of the Tower of Babel and what happens when we all just do our ‘own thing’. None of it is bad but there can be dis-unity and discord that can slow us down and distract us. I am thinking that Jesus didn’t tell us to go out and find our own way – I am the truth, the way, the light. He laid it out for us and although we do have to travel the journey ourselves there are guidelines and a framework to follow.

    Eugene did the same thing – he laid out the Constitution and Rules for us – the things that made it work for him and for those who would join him over the centuries. “Here’s what worked for me” type of thing, “here’s the learned wisdom and guidance” of how we do it together as a community and remain true to the spirit within us that we follow and live”. There is a freedom in all of that, a strength and a grace that frees me up to become and be has I have been created to be.

    “…resolve to obey the following Constitution and Rules; by living them they hope to obtain all the benefits they need for their own sanctification and for the salvation of souls.” Guidelines, support, freedom to follow and to ‘be’- to be in communion with – there is a very real joy in all of this. Eugene did what we are trying to do – we are doing and sharing this great spirit and way of living that Eugene had and lived. We might have to work a little to see how we can live it out in our lives in this century, in this “state of life, and live it in ways that vary according to milieu and culture”. It makes it all possible for me to be a light to my neighbour’s feet. I am so grateful for such a gift, for the guidelines and rules, for the shared loved and support. I am given much.

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