1812 : returned to Aix as a young priest and lived in the house of his mother in the centre of the city

My major occupation will be to love Him, my greatest concern will be to make Him loved

Retreat notes, December 1812, E.O. XV n. 109

1813: Beginning of his ministry among the most-abandoned. They were those who were not being touched by the structures of the Church of Aix: the youth, the prisoners, the people of Provence who did not speak French

… my whole ambition was to consecrate myself to the service of the poor and of the youth. I thus started out in the prisons, and my first apprenticeship consisted of gathering around me young boys whom I instructed. I formed a large number in virtue. I saw up to 280 grouped around me, and those who today still remain faithful to the principles that I had the happiness of instilling in their souls and who do honor to their faith in every rank of society or in the sanctuary, will uphold for a long time, either in Aix or in the other places where they are dispersed, the reputation that this congregation had rightly acquired for itself while I was able to care for it.

Diary of 31 March 1839, E.O. XX

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a legacy to look back on. I look at the many ‘new beginnings’ of Eugene’s life. He knew intimately what it was to feed abandoned. Certainly as one of the poor during his exile because they [his family] did not have a lot of money; and as a refugee from his own country that he could only later return to; as a young man before he met up with Don Bartolo. For him it was almost like a grace for he was able to clearly see and identify with the poor. Eugene seemed to find his heart, his true centre with the most abandoned, the voiceless. With the youth he became a parent, a father and perhaps mother to the young men – a beginning which would grow into him becoming a father to so many, first priests and brothers and then many throughout the world who he invited to share in his spirit and join in a deliberate way of living and being.

    Each of us, if we are true to ourselves know what it is like to feel in some way abandoned and voiceless, to experience a poverty of one sort or another. We who are rich beyond belief have that small and some times hidden part of ourselves that is poor. It would seem to be a part of the human equation. Not a part to be ashamed of or to pretend it is not in existence – in this we can rejoice for it is from here that we look up, reach out and connect with.

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