In an attempt to establish the Oblates in the Kingdom of Sardinia (which comprised Nice, Savoy and Sardinia), Eugene wrote to Fr. Anthony Grassi, Jesuit Provincial and confessor to the King and Queen of Savoy. He was hoping that Fr Grassi would use his influence with the King regarding some possible Oblate establishments in his Kingdom. I will quote parts of this letter because it gives a good idea of the development of the Oblates in the 14 years since our foundation in 1816.
Right after I had arrived at Nice after a long and very difficult journey, I considered before God in the best disposition possible I could muster the interesting topic of our long conversation at Turin. I don’t think I am mistaken in seeing therein the way that Divine Providence seems to be indicating to us, that is, in the States of His Majesty to use a Congregation which is by duty devoted to the salvation of the most abandoned souls as well as to the special education of clerics.
I did not overlook the difficulties which one may encounter in carrying out a project whose consequences ought to be so beneficial to the Church and the State. Since, however, we wish to strive only for God’s glory and the salvation of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, my trust is such that I fear nothing, not even the dangers which threaten those who dedicate their lives to the reform of morals and discipline in the territory where you propose that we exercise our holy ministry.
Letter to Fr. A Grassi SJ, 11 December 1830, EO XIII, n 76.
The “salvation of the most abandoned souls” and striving “only for God’s glory and the salvation of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ” has continued to be our spirit and mission for two centuries. How consciously do they figure in my daily activities?
The “special education of clerics” was an urgent need in Eugene’s time – to ensure that the people had well-formed pastors. As the local church developed in the areas where we ministered, so too did the local bishops take on this responsibility. We are still involved in this area in some places, but it is no longer listed as one of our main ministries.