The first activity of the newly-formed Missionary group was to write a request of authorization to the diocesan authorities.
The undersigned priests:
… -have the honour of requesting from you the authorization to come together at Aix in the old house of the Carmelites which one of them has acquired; and to live there in community under a Rule whose main points they now indicate to you….
(The main points are listed. These will be presented in the blog entries that follow)
… Done at Aix, January 25, 1816
Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2
Who were these men who signed the founding letter?
- Eugene de Mazenod was 33 years old, and was the one whose vision sparked the new missionary adventure.
The first three of his companions had been seminarians in Aix at the time when Eugene was a part-time spiritual director and confessor there from 1812 onwards:
- Auguste Icard was 25-years old, ordained two years before for the Diocese of Aix, and had been assistant priest in the parish of Lambesc, near Aix.
- Henri Tempier was 27, and had been a priest for two years, working as assistant priest in Arles.
- Sébastien Deblieu was 27, and had had three years of priestly ministry, working as assistant in the parish of St. Jean outside the Walls in Aix, and then for a year as parish priest of Peynier. He came to live in the Carmelite convent a few days after the others.
- Emmanuel Maunier was 46, and was a widower who was ordained a priest for 18 years and worked in Marseille. Although he was a founding member and signed the 25 January document, he was only able to move into the community in March.
- Pierre Mie was 47, and had been a priest for 18 years, working in various parish situations and also preaching retreats and missions. It appears that he was a part of the Missionaries in their life and activities from the beginning but only definitively went to live in Aix much later.
The older priests, Maunier and Mie, had both experienced being persecuted as priests during the Revolution and, at danger to themselves, had ministered clandestinely to people. Their experiences would have made them very open to Eugene’s understanding of the damage caused to the Church by the Revolution – especially as expressed in the Preface.