The full impact and importance of the foundation we are celebrating can only be appreciated if we look at the bigger picture. Eugene was convinced that the 6 men coming together in the foundation room were doing so in response to a call from God. But, how sure of this was he?
Exactly 10 years later, Eugene was in Rome seeking the Church’s recognition that the foundation event of 25 January was indeed the will of God. With the papal approbation, the Oblate charism was recognized as having its inspiration in the Holy Spirit:
Rejoice with me and congratulate yourselves, my beloved, for it has pleased the Lord to grant us great favors;
Our Holy Father the Pope, Leo XII, gloriously reigning from the chair of St. Peter, has sanctioned with his apostolic approbation, on March 21 of this current year, our Institute, our Constitutions and our Rules.
See then our little flock, to whom the Father of the family has kindly wished to open wide the field of the holy Church, given a place in the hierarchic order, associated with the venerable Congregations which have spread throughout the Church so many great benefits and enlightened the entire world with so bright a light;
see her, right from her birth, enriched with the same privileges of those illustrious Societies, in the footsteps of which, with all her strength and all her means, she will certainly strive to walk steadily forward.
Letter to all the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, 1826, EO VII n.232
Fr. Fernand Jetté OMI, successor of St. Eugene from 1974 -1986, shows the necessity for a “divine guarantee” regarding our foundation:
It is essential for a religious family to be recognized by the Church, for it is the Church who “constitutes” us, as the Founder put it; it is the Church who gives us our “mission”, who sends us as an apostolic corps to evangelize the world…
For a religious family the issues at stake are substantial; it invites men to leave everything, to give up establishing themselves in this world in order to commit themselves in a radical way and within a group to the following of Christ. In such a project, each one stakes his own life. Who will guarantee the Gospel authenticity of the way that is proposed?
…Before one can offer people a particular way of evangelical life, it is necessary that there be signs from God, discernment and the Church’s official confirmation…. It is the Church therefore that “constitutes” us what we are. She vouches to the faithful for the Gospel authenticity of the life-project we offer them.
F. Jetté, THE OFFICIAL APPROBATION OF OUR NEW CONSTITUTIONS, Letter – Rome 27/06/1982 http://www.omiworld.org/superior-general-writings.asp?v=W&sID=4