Beginning in 1812, I had introduced to this seminary… the zealous association which I had known in the seminary in Paris.
Diary of 20 August 1838, E.O. XIX
Pielorz describes this Association in Saint Sulpice, quoting from its rules:
This secret association, similar to the Aa of the Jesuits, made up of five – eight at the maximum – members had as its goal “to train up in the seminary a very pious corps of ecclesiastics who were perfect observers of the rule and who through their example, their advice and their prayers provide support for the maintenance of intense fervour in the community.” It organized the most fervent among the seminarians… To capture all hearts and draw them to the love of Christ, the associates set as their goal to communicate to others by a piety that was “relaxed, open, from the heart, serene, constant, loving, filled with holy joy, kind, charitable, patient, gentle, which accommodates to everything, bends to suit each one and lends support to everyone.”
PIELORZ, The Spiritual Life of Bishop de Mazenod, 1782-1812, Selected Oblate Studies and Texts, Vol. II, Rome, 1998, , p. 305.
This quality of being close to people so as to slowly but surely influence them and journey with them to deepen their relationship with God, was to become the model used by Eugene when he worked with groups. A year after having left the seminary, he had used this principle in establishing the congregation of youth in Aix. Not only were the youth to work for their own personal growth and salvation, but through the quality of their lives they were to be like yeast in the “dough” of the world so as to be a source of transformation and growth for others:
Art. 3. The congregationists, whose state of life ensures that they live fully in the world, will seek to behave in such a way as to edify all those with whom they have family ties and others with whom they have contact.
Statuts, Chapitre XII §1
The Oblate vocation was also that of being yeast in the dough of the world so as to be instruments of Gospel transformation. Two hundred years ago when Eugene was approaching people to join his group of Missionaries, he had written to one:
Ah! if we could form a nucleus, there would soon cluster round it the most zealous elements in the diocese.
Think a while about that before the good God. You know that we must have, in order to do any good in our regions, people of the country who know the language. Oh! do not doubt that we will become saints in our Congregation,…
Letter to Hilaire Aubert, 1815, O.W. VI n 3
“Transformation in the world happens when people are healed and start investing in other people.” Michael W. Smith