The initial struggle against the liberals was about defending the freedom of education in which Eugene declared:
I find myself like a lion who feels all his vigor, his strength and his courage…
Letter to Henri Tempier, 24 June 1828, EO VII n 304
Eugene knew that this was only a first step of the attacks on the French Church, and thus it was essential to have people well prepared to cope. For the Oblates, he had anticipated the necessity of having men who were solidly formed and whose commitment to Jesus Christ would give them the vision and strength to be like lions for the values of God and the Church. A solid Oblate formation was essential:
We have a very strict novitiate. If men are judged unfit for religious virtues, they are simply sent away. Thus it is an established fact that the small number who persevere are really called.
If divine anger has a new persecution in store for us, I think that those who have been prepared there in the secret of God’s house and who will have imitated the Apostles in their self-sacrifice, will not be the least faithful and will console us for the defection of a great number which we can expect.
Letter to Bishop Miollis of Digne, 10 March 1828, EO XIII n. 65