Evangelization of the people necessitated good priests to accompany them in their conversion and spiritual growth. Eugene was committed to this ideal both as an Oblate and as Vicar General of Bishop Fortuné in Marseille.

We are pursuing our system of purification, two or three more expulsions at the most and all our whole countryside will be in good hands; also the Jubilee has done wonders everywhere; the accounts which our parish priests are giving us are splendid everybody is going to confession …

Letter, 24 March 1827, in REY (I, 426)

Fr Woestman gives the background to this clergy reform: “For a real understanding of de Mazenod’s intention, the religious situation of France at that moment must be kept in mind. All religious communities of men and women in the France had been suppressed during the Revolution (1789-1799), their houses and churches were destroyed or used for secular purposes, the secular clergy was persecuted – murdered, imprisoned, driven into exile and hiding – and all seminaries were closed for many years. The effects of this continued to be felt long after the end of overt persecution. Thus the number of active priests between 1809 and 1815 dropped from 31,870 to 25,874. W. Woestman, “Priests” in Dictionary of Oblate Values (http://www.omiworld.org/dictionary.asp?v=9&vol=1&let=P&ID=1072)



“To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.”   Thomas Carlyle

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As I read this today I think of the effects of Communism that were wreaked on various peoples throughout the world. Devastating effects on peoples with great suppression of many in order that all would be equal and even in that there were some who ‘rose to the top’ and who had more than others. There were other equally devastating regimes such as the Khmer Rouge etc. And the changes from those systems did not work any more than did many of the ones from the French Revolution. Something imposed is never quite the same as something given.

    I find myself shying away from the idea of ‘necessary purification’ and expulsions of any type, but the idea of change coming from within, of my reform being possible if I work on myself. That works for me. I see that in what Pope Francis is doing and how he is doing it. He has not come down with an iron fist but rather he is moving from the the heart, moving out of love and the light and transformation he brings and lets in is welcoming, startling and life changing. He started with himself and says follow me. Two thousand years ago another walked this earth and lived and died and rose again. Two hundred years ago Eugene did the same – he let go of the trappings and entitlements and loved and moved out of that. He allowed for the necessary purification of himself and through that spirit and sharing it of others. This morning for the first time ever I have felt a small twinge of sadness that such as I will never be able to accompany others in the same way that an ordained priest can with the sacraments – even though I do not particularly feel called to that and I am happy with who I am and what I have been called to. It is not a huge thing just a small sadness that I refuse to dwell on and let it eclipse all else in my life. There is still much that I must let go of in the purification of my own self.

    I am grateful this morning for all that I have been given and those I walk with in this journey of my life, the brothers and sister in my life. It is in walking with them that I am able to let go of what I must.

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