To respond to the need for clergy reform and formation, Eugene was about to send Father Charles-Dominique Albini to the major seminary of Marseille as professor and formator. He wrote about this to Fr. Honorat

Be well aware that were he to fall ill again and I am unable to employ him in the post which I have in mind for him, it would be a frightful mess, one which would be of major consequence!

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat. 23 August 1827, EO VII n 275

Yvon Beaudoin explains the background.

“The diocese of Marseilles had a flourishing seminary which the Lazarist Fathers directed from 1648 to 1791. The French Revolution suppressed the diocese and closed the seminary. When Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, the first bishop of the re-established diocese, arrived in 1823, he was greeted by 24 seminarians who were receiving their training at Aix. In December of the same year he transferred them to Marseilles where an interim seminary was opened, first on the Rue Rouge, then at St-Just; it was under the direction of diocesan priests.

After Father François de Paule Henry Tempier had been appointed Vicar General in 1823, he was put in charge of constructing a new seminary building on the rue Rouge. This building housed the seminary from 1827 to 1862; it was afterwards torn down to free the areas around the new cathedral. Once the seminary had been located in these new quarters, the Bishop also wanted to provide it with a new team of directors. His preference was to put religious priests in charge of it, for he felt that this would ensure greater unity of doctrine and formation. He approached the Fathers of the Sacred Heart, then the Sulpicians and the Lazarists, but without any success. In the end he entrusted the direction of his seminary to his diocesan missionaries, namely, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

For several years Father de Mazenod had been readying himself to accept an apostolic work like this… In the new edition of the Rule (1825-1826), clergy reform remained one of the ends of the Congregation, though the direction of seminary was not explicitly mentioned. However, in Father de Mazenod’s December 8, 1825 petition to the Holy Father and in the papal Brief Si tempus umquam by which Leo XII approved the Rule on March 21, 1826, the direction of seminaries was mentioned as a secondary aim of the Institute.”

Beaudoin, “Marseilles, Major Seminary (1827-1862)” in the Oblate Historical Dictionary, http://www.omiworld.org/dictionary.asp?v=5&vol=1&let=M&ID=814


“Spiritual formation in a Christian tradition answers a specific human question: ‘What kind of person am I going to be?’ It is the process of establishing the character of Christ in the person. That’s all it is.”   Dallas Willard

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Although not a part of my experience in any way I still read Yves Beaudoin’s article with interest and found myself pleasantly surprised as I learned new things. Again having a sense of the wisdom that Saint Eugene employed in so many areas of his life and the incredible vision that he had – even so early with his small family.

    This place here has become like a ‘seminary’ for me – for it is a place of learning and formation and as I had this thought this morning I imagined the aghast reactions of some of those who might read this. However when I looked at the origins of the word seminary; “late Middle English (denoting a seed plot): from Latin seminarium ‘seed plot,’ neuter of seminarius ‘of seed,’ from semen ‘seed” and synonyms such as adacamy and training institute I thought of how appropriate they were. For this place here is like a seed that is planted within me and I grow out from here. Such a gift is it that it has led me to further studies through a private reflection of Eugene’s letters at a later period each day. Here I am fed, nourished and learn more about this man we call our saint, founder….and whom I have come to love so dearly. I find or recognize myself in places here, my heart can relate. I am called forth to more.

    This place here is too an Oblate Missionary thrust through which I, and I suspect many, are formed. Again I find myself filled with gratitude for all that God provides.

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