Having outlined the major points of their vision statement, they continue:
The undersigned priests: …
-and wishing to accomplish it in a manner as useful to themselves as it is advantageous for the people whom they propose to evangelize…
Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, O.W. XIII n.2
Why did these men come together for the service of others? Was it pure altruism or philanthropy? I think that it all hinges around the word “salvation.” From the beginning, Eugene was to define their ministry as that of being “co-operators of the Saviour.” The aim of their lives and ministry was salvation for themselves and for those to whom they ministered. It was the living out of the answer to the Catechism question:”Why did God create us?” The reply was: “To love Him and serve Him in this world so that we can be happy with Him in the next.”
Eugene was convinced that anyone of his group who lived the demands of his vocation well (in other words, faithfully followed the Rule) would go straight to heaven after his death.
So, the missionaries had a clear purpose: eternal salvation for themselves and all the people they ministered too. Eugene summed this up in the Preface when he wrote:
“Take great care about what you do and what you teach,” was Paul’s charge to Timothy, “Always do this, and thus you will save both yourself and those who listen to you” (I Tim 4:16)