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

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    My mind has flitted all over the place this morning and I don’t know if I am recognizing something in myself or running from something. I am not sure who I am feeling the worst for, Nicolas Riccardi who had tried to be a part of the community perhaps for all the wrong reasons or for Eugene and the others who gave of their love and ‘let go of their selves’ to try to support the young man.

    It would seem that when we make the decision and allow ourselves to love another(s) it is a daily commitment, one that must be made and lived out over and over again – not a one-shot effort. It is not always conscious but it is there. I have done it and of course a few images come to mind, but I have done it. Perhaps at the time I asked myself why I was bothering with a particular person, why I was trying again and again, however it came from a place that was more than myself. And if I am really honest I recognize and try to look at the times when it has been done for me, when I have been loved and supported over and over again. Not a one-shot deal at all.

    It would seem that nothing is ever just black and white. I dare say that this has been about community and what makes community possible day after day after day. It is more than just a group of people and personalities that gel and get along together really well. There are in there decisions to love and decisions to let go. It moves from being on the surface into the depths of the heart, where God is. Is this not how God loves me?

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