You know them, I am your father and how much a father! So, I cannot be satisfied to be treated simply as a superior.
From the day that Eugene had founded the Oblates, he had had a sense of spiritual paternity. As he expresses this to the scholastics, with whom he had spent a very special few weeks in Billens, we see the spiritual aspect of this paternal love. It is not directed towards persons, but to God and the service of the Church.
If you could place an ear to the keyhole when I am talking about you, or read what I write about you, you would understand what you mean to me, but you do know it and it is in the presence of God that you repay me my love.
Your virtues, your devotion to God’s glory and to the service of the Church will be my glory and my consolation in the midst of the assembly of the saints.
As I wait for that, it brings a secret joy to my heart and I bless you and ask you for yet more prayers and for you to keep me ever in mind.
Goodbye again my dear children
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille and the students in Billens, 24 January 1831, EO VIII n 383