Fearing that the anti-religious sentiments of the new regime would lead to further persecution and the danger of violent outbreaks, Eugene started to look for a house in Switzerland to move all the scholastics and novices to. Here they would be safe and would be able to pursue their studies and formation in a calmer atmosphere and become fully equipped for ministry back in France.

I would have been gone quite a while from here had I not believed that Providence meant me to stay in order to find some means of preserving the family.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès , 15 August 1830, EO VII n 356

…There is no other choice than to buy a country house or an old chateau which may not be too expensive. I have two in view; they are both situated at four or five leagues from here in the midst of a Catholic population. I regard it as very important to have a fixed establishment. Providence will guide us thereafter according to his holy designs. In this house there should be some priests who could as need arises bring help to the country priests. They would do in the French region what the Liguorians do in the German area. It is only thus that they could make themselves appreciated. I would establish in the same place our students, for do not imagine that you will be able to keep them together in your sight.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 15 August 1830, EO VII n. 355

With Eugene we can enjoy the beauty of the place which was to be the formation house for future Missionary Oblates for 7 years.

…After many costly trips, for one does not travel gratuitously in this country, I have reached a decision and have concluded a very onerous transaction, but one which had to be undertaken if I did not wish to risk being left with nothing by way of a settlement. They have arrived at an advance agreement, save for my approbation, on one of the most agreeable dwellings of the canton. I have visited it and admit that I find it charming, both in regard to the site and the conveniences that go with it. It is at quite a short distance from a small town and within reach of a village. The view looks over a pretty plain towards foothills which rise to the high mountains of the Gruyere but at a distance far enough not to be oppressed by them. The house has a pretty garden in front; from the ground floor one reaches, by a charming path, a little wood in which a stream meanders. A canopy has been cleared in its shade with benches that invite walkers to sit and contemplate the beauties of nature.
Beyond is a fine stretch of grass where calmly browse the cows of the farm which is situated a short distance from the chateau. Over there is the barn for the cows, and that for horses, hay lofts, threshing floor, repair shop, chicken house, dairy and all the farming equipment.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 20 September 1830, EO VII n 364

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    In Eugene’s letter to Henri Tempier of August 30th he wrote: “Our vocation is to do good to everybody; when we will no longer be able to do it in one place, we will do it in another.” And now a few weeks later he has found some property that will be suitable and allow the novices and scholastics to continue their studies in safety. I think of Eugene and his family who fled for their lives during the French Revolution and then later of how Eugene changed his own track in life by staying on in the seminary with those who were not yet finished with their studies. God’s hand in weaving the fabric of Eugene’s life and Eugene being very much a father trying to ensure that his sons be able to continue on as they have been called. In a time when many in the Church in France might be tempted to run to safer grounds, letting go of their lives as priests and bishops, or of giving-in to the new governments growing dictates and allowing their lives to be lessened Eugene was looking how to preserve and move forward, always remaining faithful to his family and his vocation.

    What does this look like in my own life? Have there been obstacles in my own life, what did they look like and how did I get around them? I look at the journey that has been my life this far. Not always been easy, but as I look back I tend to see all the good that has followed the difficult times, the beauty and grace, the depth and serenity that have the been the fruits of my life. Eugene was never alone in the journey, God always walking with him; “Providence meant me to stay in order to find some means of preserving the family.” How has God called me to stay and so grow?

    In a little over a week I will begin a new segment of my journey, of this adventure that is life. I don’t know what the end will look like but I do know it will be all good. I look at my life with God, with the Church and with my Mazenodian Family – each an integral part of , but not separate from the other – all a part of the adventure. It is like a spiral – the deeper I to funnel down, the wider the experience becomes as I move outward.

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