Why did Eugene become a priest?
Because he was moved by the condition of the poor whose faith had been weakened or destroyed by the Revolution. Looking at them through the eyes of the Savior urged him to dedicate himself to re-awakening their faith and opening their hardened hearts to redemption.
As the Lord is my witness, what he wants of me is that I renounce a world where it is almost impossible to find salvation, such is the power of apostasy there; that I devote myself especially to his service and try to reawaken the faith that is becoming extinct among the poor; in a word, that I make myself available to carry out any orders he may wish to give me for his glory and the salvation of souls he has redeemed by his precious blood.
Letter to his mother, 29 June 1808, EO XV n. 27.
It was with these words that Eugene had announced his decision to his mother. A year later he repeated the same sentiments of the impossibility of being able to remain an idle onlooker to the sad religious situation around him:
Do you believe that a man who had a clear vision of the needs of the Church and who, despite the attraction God gives him to work at helping her, and other signs of His will, yet opted to sit back with arms folded, sighing softly to himself about all these evils, but not raising a finger to awaken even in the least degree men’s hardened hearts, would rest in all good conscience? What an illusion… it would be enough if in the course of one’s life one could help even a single soul to work out his salvation to make all one’s labors worthwhile.
Letter to his mother, 4 April 1809, EO XIV n 50
It was an ideal he communicated to the first Oblates:
The sight of these evils has so touched the hearts of certain priests, zealous for the glory of God, men with an ardent love for the Church, that they are willing to give their lives, if need be, for the salvation of souls.
“When a good man is hurt, all who would be called good must suffer with him.” Euripides