In this important document of 25 January 1816 that we have been reflecting on, we see the seeds of all the major areas of growth that Eugene was to nurture till his last day of life, and which still continue to bear rich fruit 200 years later. It was in an attitude of generous openness to discerning the will of God that Eugene guided the nascent Society of Missionaries step-by-step.
Jacques Jeancard, a close lifetime collaborator, wrote that when Eugene founded us he:
was far from knowing the whole extent of his mission. By no means did he draw up a vast plan a priori, complete in all its parts. That plan of which he was the craftsman was not of merely human conception; it was inspired in him and, in a way, revealed to him progressively as circumstances opened up new horizons to his zeal.
The Lord who was guiding him allowed him to see only what had to be done in the immediate situation and He rewarded his fervent love for the Church and his zeal for souls by allowing him to see the exact distance he had to cover in each new advance toward the completion of the work which devolved upon him.
Thus he advanced under the impulse and direction of Divine Providence, along the path which was unknown, or practically unknown, to him in the beginning, and by which he was ultimately to reach his destination willed from on High.
Melanges historiques sur la Congregation des Oblats de Marie Immaculee, (Tours, 1872), pp. 70-71.
“Believing is nothing other than, in the darkness of the world, touching the hand of God, and in this way, in silence, hearing the Word, seeing love.” Pope Benedict XVI