While Eugene had been in Switzerland, it had been decided that his elderly uncle, Bishop Fortuné, troubled by the anti-religious sentiment in Marseilles, should leave France and take refuge in Nice. Eugene went to meet him there, after a frightening journey over the mountains in which their carriage had been stuck in the snow.

At last, at nine o’clock in the evening, we arrived at Nice and were taken to our respectable and beloved uncle; and after a good supper, of which we had an extreme need, we went to rest, thankful to God that no one took ill, not even my mother, who was wonderful at an age as advanced as hers.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 2 December 1830, EO VII n 372

Another challenge: the Archbishop of Aix had just died, and Eugene voiced his concerns as to the standpoint his successor would take regarding the Oblates. In case the Oblates would have to leave France, Eugene had made approaches to religious authorities outside to see about the possibility of establishing the Oblates there.

I had great sorrow in not being able to preside myself the office for the Archbishop, for I sincerely mourn this good Prelate. I share your fears regarding the choice of his successor and for several reasons; that is why I will not forget to prepare a shelter for those who will likely be asked to depart. I have proceeded with this matter since my departure from Fribourg and I am not without hope of succeeding, if our prayers obtain God’s protection; there are great difficulties to overcome, but what obstacles can thwart the prayers of souls who only wish to please God?

Letter to Henri Tempier, 4 December 1830, EO VII n 374

Troubled times indeed!

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of a recent news report telling the story of one woman who lost everything with the recent hurricane and flooding in Houston. She had been forced to flee flooding after hurricane Katrina and so she had settled in Houston. Once again, she who had so little to start with, had lost everything. How could she have planned for that or entertained the thought it could happen again?

    Eugene knew only too well that unexpected and deadly obstacles could arise not just during another revolution but also in the following months. Was he ‘jumping the gun’? Could he not have waited to see what was going to happen? He loved his family, his growing congregation and he wanted to be able to protect them if needed.

    Once again I carry this, Eugene’s experience and how he moved, into my own life today, pondering on what that would or has looked like in my own life.

    Yesterday Fr. Bonga asked (and I am paraphrasing here) ‘What was [Eugene’s] hidden poverty and deep wound and how did it form him?’ Much of that we know and are coming to recognize more easily. It was Fr. Bonga’s invitation for us to look at our own lives and ask what was the hidden poverty and deep wound and how has it formed ourselves – myself? This piece today has been like a second invitation to do just that as I look at my own ‘reactions’ and ‘responses’.

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