Eugene founded the Oblates to serve in the Church and to be of service to the mission of the Church, with the charismatic vision particular to us. Our vocation becomes tangible around the person of the bishop, in communion with whom we serve the local church. Writing to the Bishop of Nimes, where the Oblates had a community, Eugene assured him of this desire for missionary communion.

Your Lordship knows that our Society willingly works under your orders. When it is more numerous it will do even more, at least in as much as you will command it, for the ambition of each of us is, as long as we are in your diocese, to remain devoted to you and give your paternal heart every consolation it has a right to expect from priests who know your concern and the extent of their duty.

Letter to Bishop P.B. de Chaffoy of Nimes, EO XIII n. 60

This, however, was not a blind servitude – but a service rendered within the parameters of our particular charismatic focus. Whenever Eugene came across bishops who were asking the Oblates to do services which did not fit in with our specific vocation, he would remove the Oblates from that diocese or work.

Coincidentally, as I reflect on this letter, two of our Oblates have been named bishops within a few days of each other. Instinctively my reaction at each announcement was one of dismay because the Oblate Congregation was “losing” a good and talented man at the service of our own missionary needs. Yet that is not the case because we have been founded to be at the service of the most abandoned within the needs of the Church, and our missionary spirit continues to be at its service. Eugene himself gave the example when he was appointed bishop to respond to urgent and essential needs in the life of the Church in Marseille. With his Oblate heart and vision he became an agent of transformation – with a special solicitude for the most abandoned in his diocese.


“Be attentive that the candidates to be bishops are pastors who are close to the people, fathers and brothers; that they are gentle, patient, and merciful.”   Pope Francis

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I remember when Tony Krotki was named Bishop of Churchill-Hudson Bay and thinking that it was sad because for sure I’d never see him as Pastor of our local church (which would have been nice) but I was happy for the Oblates and for the diocese there, for he would be taking his spirit with him, it might be seen in a different way but there nevertheless, leading, serving in a way that I am sure was not his initial dream when he joined the Oblates. And I think of Louis Lougen when he shared a little of himself and his history with us at the last convocation, his struggles with accepting leadership which would remove him from direct missionary work (my wording not his) and yet how very truly he was missioning to all of us in the room that day. Both Tony and Louis and now Wilhelm saying yes to the Church and a further extension of God’s call.

    As Frank said “With his Oblate heart and vision he became an agent of transformation – with a special solicitude for the most abandoned in his diocese.” We are each of us called and sent be it with our brothers and sisters, our parishes, our colleagues, our congregation and yes also the Church. The focus of the faces of the poor change slightly when saying ‘yes’ to serving the Church and the congregation in this different way – it can move from being just ‘them out there’ to ‘us right here’. I think of it as being asked to move up closer to Jesus at the table of the Last Supper, to move up closer to Jesus as we hang there with Him on the Cross. It would seem the call to love and serve just grows a little bigger to include many more than we first might have thought of.

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