Looking back on his time in Venice, Eugene traced the hand of God constructing his life-direction through others:

Can I ever thank God sufficiently for getting for me, out of his infinite goodness, help such as this precisely at the most difficult time of life, a decisive time for me, in which were planted by a man of God, in my soul prepared by his skillful hand and the grace of the Holy Spirit whose instrument he was, the fundamentals of religion and piety on which the mercy of God has built the structure of my spiritual life?

The method used by Don Bartolo was simple: to provide a loving environment.

From this time on, every day over a period of four years, I went after Mass to be with these most benevolent teachers who put me to work until midday. After lunch, D. Bartolo, whose health required a lot of attention, would come to find me at home to go for a walk, which had in view a visit of some church where were would stop to pray. On our return, I got back to work, which lasted until evening. Some priests got together at that time to say the office in common. Then we would come down to the drawing room, where some family friends entered into some wholesome recreation. We had coffee and went away, except for myself who already in a way formed part of the family, and stayed for supper and to say the rosary and pray with them following the holy custom of that country, that was at that time so good.

Diary of the Exile in Italy, EO XVI

It was in this loving family community that the young adolescent grew and developed. In later years, Father Eugene used this same method of providing a loving community as the environment for the growth of the members of his Aix Youth Congregation. Later it was the spirit he wanted for the Oblate communities.

Reflecting on the experience of the young Eugene, I am led to reflect on some of the events, places and people who contributed to my development. Who and what helped me to discover a dream and to make it a reality?


“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”    Walt Disney

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    “Making God’s dream a reality” – I could sit with that thought the whole day and not bother with anything else. A little bit like the gospel story of the transfiguration when Peter asks to build three tents, one each for Elijah, Moses and Jesus. Worded as it is, for me as I look back on my life, most particularly to the times that were dark and lost, a thread to hold onto, a safety line.

    This has been a short time to look back at many points in my life, not in chronological order but skipping back and forth. All centered around people that God put into my life rather than places and events – I was led to the banquet and given a place to sit – but it was the people beside me who were the main course. I have to smile at myself here because I have spent the last couple of days preparing my Reflection on the Readings for this coming Sunday Liturgy and so I am seeing things through that lens. Even as I write these words I realise that here in this moment itself is an event.

    I can only marvel at how God has fed me, throughout my life, with people, a multitude of people, some more prominent than others, but I find it so much easier now to return through memories and to see them all.

    And it seems that is not just moments of others there for me, but also how I receive such a multitude of graces and then share them with others, the continuous flow. I think for a moment of the image of the flaming hearts moving outwards and around, back an forth, never only one-way. There is always the discovering of a dream, but it needs that back and forth to become a reality. My own development if I can put it that way comes only when I give, do, be all that has been given to me. I have never quite looked at this way before, but God did not wait until I sobered up and I had my defining moment of ‘conversion’ as I experienced Jesus in a very personal way. At this moment I see so clearly how he held my heart even as a small child and it is only now I recognize the caresses that I received.

    It would seem that every moment of being can become moments of gratitude.

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