Eugene had asked each Oblate to recall and write his memories of the life of the Society. Father Suzanne had written something on the history of the Oblates in Marseille. Reading what he had written, Eugene stressed the importance of recording history

Remember that you were present when we took possession of the Calvary; so it is not simply the arrival of the Bishop at Marseilles that you ought to concentrate on. To help you in seeking out the facts that are no longer present to your mind or which have not come to your knowledge, you will request on my behalf that these good men of ours at Laus put in writing all they know and all that happened in the course of their missions. I am going to order them to do this as a duty.
This operation would be finished if the orders that I sent to the Society from Rome had been transmitted to them. Each will devote to this work the equivalent of two hours per week. It is totally ridiculous that we do not yet have any Memoirs of the Society; such is not the case anywhere else…

It was not just a matter of recalling events, but had a practical purpose in reminding the Oblates of various decisions and customs that had been agreed on for more successful ministry

There is no recording of customs anywhere; hence all the things that you and Fr. Dupuy established at the Calvary have fallen into disuse.

Letter to Marius Suzanne, 23 September 1827, EO VII n 279

He repeated this to Father Courtès, superior of the Aix community.

I reiterate the precept that all employ at least an hour each week to put in writing everything you have done since you have been in the Society and all that you remember of what has been achieved in your time, or even before by others. The events, the vicissitudes, the consolations, the persecutions, the grief, apostasies, all in a word without omitting anything, making as you go portraits of the different personages, friends or enemies, who have played a part in our affairs. Each will hand over to me this work which will be done on separate sheets, numbered and with half a margin; no excuse for exempting oneself from this work.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 27 November 1827, EO VII n 287

On receiving what Father Honorat had written, Eugene exclaimed:

… All that you add completes the picture of these fine missions and increases my gratitude.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 12 December 1827, EO VII n 288


“Gratitude is not only the memory but the homage of the heart rendered to God for his goodness.”   Nathaniel Parker Willis


This entry was posted in LETTERS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    For someone who loves to write – taking notes and keeping track of what was done or not done along with the whys of that is not always onerous. But I have noticed that many do not like to take notes, keep records. By Eugene asking each man to spend at least one hour each week recording the what’s and when’s and who’s of all that occurred in their communities he (and then all of us) would have a much fuller and more rounded picture of how this growing community was living, how they were doing, what the struggles were, what worked and what didn’t. I am sure the men did not think about the possibility of people, both men and women, coming along some two hundred years later and looking at not only at who they were, what they did, but why they did what they did – at what worked and what didn’t. Eugene had a fine sense of what was needed then and what would be needed today so that we would be able to carry on, with the same basic mission, with the same spirit…

    So much has changed in the last 2000 years, in the last 200 years, and yet it seems that our struggles and questions, the stones we struggle to move through on the paths of our lives, our joys and consolations – that they are not so different as those in the past. It gives cause to be able to look back and count our blessings, to give thanks for all that we have received. I love what Nathanial P Willis wrote: “…the homage of the heart rendered to God for his goodness.” How today can I live the homage of my heart rendered to God for his goodness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *