25 January 1816 marked the first day of community life for the Missionaries, with the arrival of the first three members. Eugene had bought some of the Carmelite Convent, with an arrangement that the seller, Madame Gontier, could continue using the greater part of the building for her boarding school for girls. In his Memoires, Eugene tells us that she had

 … left us narrowly confined to the rooms she had conceded to us. To reach the top-floor apartment, which now serves as a library, we had to use the small staircase leading from the outside of the house; we had great difficulty squeezing into these quarters. Thus, two of our group slept in the room that has now become the library, while I myself slept in the narrow passageway leading to it.
As we had very little furniture in those first days, we set a lamp on the threshold of the connecting door and it served the three of us at bedtime.
The refectory, supposedly temporary, remained poorly furnished for a long time. Our improvised table was merely a plank placed over two barrels which served as legs. The fireplace, where we did our cooking, smoked so badly that it blotted the daylight out of the fox-hole where we ate with great relish the meager portions set before us. This suited the dispositions God had put into our hearts far more than the leisurely meals my mother would have been glad to serve us at her home. We had lost none of our gaiety; on the contrary, since this way of life was such a striking contrast to the one we had just given up, it often provided us with many a hearty laugh.”

 Memoires, cited by Rambert, La vie de Monseigneur Charles-Joseph-Eugène de Mazenod,  
Tome I, p. 177

This entry was posted in WRITINGS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. This is for me one of my favorite of all images of the the community. To such an extent I would like to see someone paint of picture of the five brothers humbly gathered around a barrel table, smoke abounding and radiating the joy of the spirit. Yes I am a bit romantic. Yet stories like this touch deeply my heart and my desire to live once again around a common simple table with my “Oblate Family”. Just think about it, living simply in each others presence and filled with a vision that would encompass the globe. And maybe having a barrel table; be it from the wine/whiskey/apples or even an old oil drum as a symbol of this first night 25 Jan 1816 and as a symbol of our Oblate Family in each of our house? Think about it and let me know what you feel/follow your heart.

  2. Paul Howard says:

    I like Jack Lau’s suggestion of someone doing a painting of that scene, eating from a table of planks and barrels, ..the simplicity and humility of it..It reminds me of the passage in

    Acts 2:42-47… “These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
    43 And everyone was filled with awe; the apostles worked many signs and miracles.
    44 And all who shared the faith owned everything in common;
    45 they sold their goods and possessions and distributed the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.
    46 Each day, with one heart, they regularly went to the Temple but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously;
    47 they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved.” New Jerusalem Bible

  3. LJC et MI
    Dear Paul:
    Lets keep that image of the first gathering before us and others and see were it takes us.
    Here at Galilee we are planning for the DeMazenodian Year, 150 anniversary of the Founders “dies natalis”. We are looking at doing an Icon Retreat in Lent of the Immaculate Conception and then in the Summer we are really hoping to do one of the founder. We have already let Rome know of our intension. But dates are not set yet and we are still in the dreaming state.
    I hope others will start planning also. Also it is not to late to put the 25 of January on the calendar for the Oblate family to gather to tell the story.
    Fraternally, Jack, OMI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *