Reminding ourselves that the persecution of the Church by the French Revolution had only ended some 11 years before, we can understand the importance of the parish mission ministry of the Oblates in a world that was far from being religious. A group of Oblates was evangelizing in the town of Roquevaire and winning over the harshest critics
I have been obliged to send Fr. Guibert to Roquevaire and I have just commissioned a curate of the city to help them with confessions. The parish priest is continually in tears at what he sees happening under his eyes; the extremists, the radicals, the libertines, all are coming forward like lambs after having sworn to make a mockery of all the efforts of our Fathers…
Letter to Marius Suzanne, 20 March 1827, EO VII n 268
The secret of the success of the Oblates was not the brilliance of their preaching or intellectual persuasion (the majority were rather mediocre in this regard), but the example given by the quality of their lives as persons totally committed to God and their closeness to the people they were ministering to. It was their “being” in order to “do” that transformed their critics into lambs.
“We win by tenderness. We conquer by forgiveness.” Frederick William Robertson