For nearly 25 years the French Revolution had attempted to destroy or control religion. With the definitive removal of Napoleon, the way was now clear for Eugene to put into practice his dream of establishing a missionary community to work at the restoration of the place of God in the lives of the most abandoned. Eugene saw a supernatural force behind his having finally made a decision to go ahead with his project. He says that it is the second time that he has been impelled by a force from outside of himself to do something – the first would have been his decision to radically change his Aix lifestyle and go to the seminary to become a priest.
Now I ask you and I ask myself how I, who have been unable to make up my mind in this matter, suddenly find myself setting wheels in motion, deciding to sacrifice my comfort and risking my fortune by setting up an establishment of whose value I am convinced but for which I only have a liking contradicted by other and diametrically opposed views!
This is a problem for me and it is the second time in my life that I am making a decision of the utmost importance as a result of a strong impulse that comes from outside of me.
When I reflect on it, I am convinced that is how God wants to put an end to my indecisiveness.
Letter to Forbin Janson, 23 October 1815, O.W. VI n.5
A few months’ later he founded the Oblates. As we recall this event, we give thanks with Eugene that God was at the source of our establishment and of our 200-year history as God’s missionaries.
Our divine origin remained a constant conviction in Eugene’s life, expressed even on his deathbed:
Be sure to tell them that I die happy… that I die happy that God was so good as to choose me to found the Congregation of the Oblates in the Church.
Joseph Fabre (Eugene’s successor as Superior General), Circular letter of 1861