As a member of the charitable work for the prisoners, Eugene had a certain success in most of his undertakings. Leflon describes his eventual failure in not getting old stale bread delivered to them. The reaction proved to be the stimulus that made Eugene resign from this position:
“He was not so successful with Carles, the baker, however. Much to the contrary; the man’s abuses, which “Demazenot fils” had dared to denounce, became worse than ever. In spite of repeated warnings, the baker persisted in exploiting the prisoners, for he evidently enjoyed a certain protection. He even went to the extent of insulting the Semainiers, when they complained to him about the bad quality of his bread. The administrators finally became aroused when one of their recently named directors, Jerome Vial, resigned his duties in September, in protest against these intolerable insults, and they then decided to give an ultimatum: one of two things—either Mayor de Fortis will replace the baker, or he will dispense the members from verifying the man’s deliveries. However, the said Mayor de Fortis was determined to maintain the status quo, arguing that the Semainier had all the power that was needed to exercise effective control.
Meanwhile, like his colleague Vial, Eugene de Mazenod handed in his resignation. But, while Vial had given as his reason the impossibility “of adequately fulfilling the obligations which each of us assumed when we accepted the duties that we were called upon to share equally,” Eugene, on the other hand, contented himself with giving, as his reason, domestic affairs, “which are absorbing all the time, he would like to devote to the charitable works to which he had been called.”
Did he, too, feel that it was useless to try to help the prisoners through a mode of action that was meeting insurmountable obstacles, as well as disinterest on the part of his colleagues? Did someone hint that his youthful zeal was somewhat excessive and out of keeping with the traditional reserve of the organization? Whatever the case may have been, no one tried to stop him from resigning. If the prisoners lost out, the “Charitable Works” recovered its placid ways, for according to the reports made at its future meetings, the organization confined itself to strictly administrative tasks and signed their checks without being too much concerned about human and Christian charity.
At least the experience had proved useful in revealing to Eugene a material and moral misery he never even suspected of existing. ” Leflon I, p. 286
All this became a learning opportunity for the young Eugene, who was undergoing life-changing experiences at this very time concerning his personal “domestic affairs.”
“In spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser and happier as a result.” Joseph B. Wirthlin