The 23 year-old Nicolas Riccardi, a deacon, had entered the Oblate novitiate seven months before, and was already showing signs of being problematic. While Eugene was in Rome, Riccardi had walked out of the community. Eugene saw good in him, and scolded him to bring him back to his senses. Because of his personal shortcomings he needed the support of the Oblate community to help him to minister effectively:
Is it sarcastically, my dear Riccardi, that you still call me father and mock me when you say you will submit yourself entirely to what I judge best for your salvation? Had you forgotten what I had judged best for your salvation when you broke away from us and did you forget the motives which had resolved me to receive you in the Society? You said it when you repeated these words: “I feel that I am very little suited to the ministry”, that is to say when you would be on your own and deprived of the help that would have been given you by the Society which had received you with as much charity as you have shown scorn for it.
However, I ought to tell you that when, upon directing you for some time and coming to know your character well, I had to decide on your vocation according to the desires that you expressed to me, I put aside my position as superior and decided in your interests, considering myself in this circumstance as responsible for seeking and assuring your happiness to the extent that I could.
Letter to Nicolas Riccardi, 17 February 1826, EO VII n 225
“’Tis not enough to help the feeble up, but to support them after.” William Shakespeare