From the very beginning, Eugene insisted that whatever missionary work was done, its success depended on the quality of life of those doing it. It was the example of the lifestyle of the missionary that was to speak louder than any words. This is why for Eugene, community and a commonly accepted Rule of Life was a non-negotiable element of our vocation.
In our 200 year history, many lay persons have joined the Oblates in living a vocation to be missionaries, expressed in many ways according to their state of life.
Each of the members of the Mazenodian family has a vocation to BE (to have an exemplary quality of life) – in order to DO (to evangelize people and help them to find a Christ-focused meaning in their lives).
Eugene highlighted the core ideal to Tempier:
… an establishment which will steadily furnish our countryside with fervent missionaries.
These will ceaselessly engage in destroying the empire of the demon, at the same time as providing the example of a life worthy of the Church in the community which they will form.
Indeed, we will live together in one house, that which I have bought, under a Rule we shall adopt with common accord
To form “one heart and one soul” is a concept dear to the heart of the Founder. As the size of the Congregation grew, so did he become increasingly insistent on this unity. For Eugene, his missionary family was the most beautiful family in the whole world and he wanted it to be the most united. The one heart and one soul was formed by an equilibrium in lifestyle and Eugene’s constant call was for a greater balance – BE in order to DO:
Happiness awaits us in this holy Society which will have but one heart and soul. One part of the year will be devoted to the conversion of souls, the other to seclusion, study and our individual sanctification.
I say no more for the moment; it suffices to give some intimation of the spiritual delights we will taste together…
… All depends on how we begin. We need perfect unanimity of sentiments, the same goodwill, the same disinterestedness, the same devotedness – that sums it up.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1815, EO VI n 4