I COULD NOT HELP THINKING OF THAT BRILLIANT AND EDIFYING YOUTH CONGREGATION I HAD FOUNDED AT AIX

Describing a visit to one of the large Jesuit houses in Rome, Eugene was prompted to write:

You could hear at the same time some other voices, in every part of the house, singing the divine praises; those were other groups directed as well by the Jesuit Fathers, and divided according to age and classes of the young people. I could not help thinking of that brilliant and edifying congregation I had founded at Aix, which furnished so many clerics for the Church and good Christians for the world, and which would still exist, in spite of my absence, if jealousy and false zeal had not conspired against it and destroyed it.

Roman Diary, 3 April 1826, EO XVII

The Youth Congregation had been built and maintained by the zeal, enthusiasm and personality of Eugene. When he left Aix in 1823, however, the youth started to move elsewhere. The Youth Congregation had filled a gap and major need when Eugene had started it during Napoleon’s persecution of the Church. But the situation had changed and, as Yvon Beaudoin points out: “In 1826, the youth sodality at Aix still existed, with only a few members, under the direction of Father Courtès. The “Journal de deliberations” ceased in 1837. The Jesuits, who had taken over the Minor Seminary at Aix in 1821, founded a Marian Society there, which soon attracted the Christian youth from Aix. Likewise, there was a youth society similar to the one of the Oblate house, first directed by a Jesuit Father and, after that, by the Congregation of the Sacred Heart of the Child Jesus, founded by Abbé Timon-David.” (Footnote to the above Diary entry)

 

“Enthusiasm is everything. It must be taut and vibrating like a guitar string.”   Pele

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One Response to I COULD NOT HELP THINKING OF THAT BRILLIANT AND EDIFYING YOUTH CONGREGATION I HAD FOUNDED AT AIX

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Sometimes I want to cry out ‘what about the women’? For this speaks very clearly of the youth but we know they were boys and young men and later the Marian Society was for youth – young seminarians. While knowing it was about the times still does not allow me to not mention it. Not in anger but more with a small jab of sadness.

    I am almost surprised at how Eugene’s sharing of his memories and feelings evoked similar ones from my own past. Things that I had not necessarily founded but been with at the beginning and that I took part in and worked hard on, that I had nurtured and when circumstances changed and forced me to let go of them they slowly died and fizzled out. And yet looking back, it was time and it was right to let go of them. I find myself wanting to almost console Eugene somehow. Dearest Eugene look at what began with your youth group and then changed certainly over time and look at your family, this Mazenodian Family now. We are around the entire globe, in I forget how many countries. We are men and women, priests, brothers, sisters and lay persons – all sharing in your charism, your spirit, living a specific way of life taught to us by you. We love and serve and share life with the poorest of the poor, many of them I’m sure with faces that you would never have envisaged. Listen to our many voices echoing through the halls of life, this congregation which you started at Aix.

    You were forced to let go of the youth congregation started in Aix – it was direct and so difficult, you ‘let go’ of so much in your life, giving it all to God and look at what it gained you. Again I think of Abraham who founded a ‘people’. For here we are now and surely you can “…hear at the same time some other voices, in every part of the house, singing the divine praises” that come from our lives.

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