Eugene’s father was still in Palermo, and his son writes to inform him of his missionary project. He also asks his father to look for benefactors among the wealthy of Sicily. Eugene firmly believed in divine providence to make his foundation possible – but that did not mean sitting around waiting for something to fall from the clouds. He had to work hard to find the means to finance the missionaries, but with the conviction that God would indeed provide through others.
An extract of his father’s reply follows Eugene’s letter below.
I am strongly inclined to write to François [ed. Cannizzaro, the son of the Palermo family with whom Eugene had spent part of his exile] that he give me some money for an establishment that I am forming at Aix for Provence. It is a foundation of Missionaries whose duty it will be to cover the countryside and bring people back to the religious sense that they have lost. We will establish ourselves in the former Carmelite monastery and go out from there on our apostolic travels.
The newspapers took the initiative of giving an account of it and have totally overlooked me as the leader of this establishment. What is good about it is that I am forming it without a penny. We must trust fully in divine Providence. If your rich people of Palermo would want to contribute to it, that would be the most wonderful work they have ever done. One has no idea of the peoples’ need. Farewell, I embrace you …
Letter to Charles Antoine de Mazenod, 8 November 1815, O.W. XIII n.1
President de Mazenod replied on 27 February 1816:
“… it matters little that you have formed your establishment without funds, since God who sees its usefulness and the purity of your intentions, will know how to gain them for you very well. But I am upset to let you know that you can expect nothing from those you call Palermo’s rich people, since, except for very few persons, I see only people who are loaded down with debts and taxes. “
(Original in the Méjanes Library, Aix)