If, as I hope, you wish to be one of us, you will not find yourself in unfamiliar territory; you will have four companions.
If presently we are not more numerous, it means we wish to choose men who have the will and the courage to walk in the footsteps of the apostles. It is important to lay solid foundations.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 9 October 1815 O.W. VI n 4
In bringing the missionary group into existence, Eugene used the model of Jesus and the apostles.
The missionary vocation was to be apostolic. From the first Rule of Life that he wrote, he expressed it this way:
What did Our Lord Jesus Christ do?
He chose a certain number of apostles and disciples whom He formed in piety and filled with His spirit;
and after having trained them in his school and the practice of all virtues, He sent them forth to conquer the world which they soon brought under the rule of his holy laws.
Like Henri Tempier, the members of the Mazenodian family must follow the model of the apostles, and have the courage to do so whatever the consequences.
Henri Tempier’s reply to Eugene’s invitation was a source of great joy for Eugene. It shows the apostolic “one heart and one soul” that marked his relationship with Eugene:
“May the good God be blessed for having inspired you to prepare for the poor, for the inhabitants of our countryside, those who have the most need of instruction in our religion, a house of missionaries who will go and announce to them the truths of salvation.
I share your views completely, my dear brother… What you want most in those you choose as your collaborators is priests who will not get into a rut of routine and daily hum-drum, and, as Father Charles’ predecessor used to say, plod along day after day without accomplishing anything; you want priests who will be ready to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and work for the salvation of souls with no other reward here on earth but hardship and fatigue. I think that God’s grace has given me this desire. If not, then I wish with all my heart that I will have it, and working with you will make it all the easier to attain. You can, therefore, count entirely on me.”
27 October, 1815 Cf. REY I, p. 183
Eugene described his apostolic ideal in the original version of our Preface:
What more sublime purpose than that of their Institute?
Their founder is Jesus Christ, the very Son of God;
their first fathers are the Apostles.
They are called to be the Savior’s co-workers, the co-redeemers of mankind;
and even though, because of their present small number and the more urgent needs of the people around them, they have to limit the scope of their zeal, for the time being to the poor of our countryside and others,
their ambition should, in its holy aspirations, embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth.
The Church, that glorious inheritance purchased by Christ the Savior at the cost of his own blood, has in our days been cruelly ravaged…
Nota Bene (1818 Rule)