Writing to Tempier from Billens and the farm that the Oblates now owned as a seminary, Eugene had some frustrated feelings about the Oblates’ lack of success with farming!

I don’t understand a thing of the mess they have got into over their cows: they sold the ones that were giving milk to buy some younger ones that give practically none. I haven’t yet plumbed the depths of this mystery but I suspect that Mille has been duped by the tenant-farmer who has only his own interest in view, and it doesn’t always coincide with ours.
Meanwhile, all the purchases of animals, which belong jointly to the landlord and tenant-farmer and which ought also to have been bought at joint expense, have come out of our bottomless pocket, thus adding to what the tenant farmer owes without in any way augmenting his capacity to pay it off.
However, there is no choice but to buy cows to eat up the hay, practically the only thing produced in these parts, but at the end I would like to see some butter and cheeses for sale and I am shown nothing but cow-pats. In short, I am very dissatisfied without knowing who precisely to blame for the situation.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 22 August 1831, EO VIII n 401

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think for a moment of those Oblates who first came to our country and who ended up in the far north, in lands and with people who bore no resemblance to their origins in Europe. They were presented with incredible challenges – of learning to speak a new language; of having to learn a whole new way of living with peoples who were sometimes nomadic and so they had to learn how to go with them. There were a lot of ‘trial and error’ situations such as Eugene writes about and the stories of their hardships and challenges and how they came through them – incredible.

    Yesterday I met with my friend, taking her to visit a particular part of the National Art Gallery, which houses a reconstructed chapel and where there is incredible music playing through 40 speakers which encircle the chapel. This is her favorite part of the entire building. On our visits there we also take time to have some mint tea, which she loves as we chat. But mostly we spend a great deal of our time simply ‘being’ there with each other. She has been confined to a wheelchair her entire life and due to problems at birth she was born without the ability control her muscle movement, to speak properly, without even being able to state her needs or wants. She was however born with the gift to share and give joy with all who meet her; to love and exhibit endless patience with friends like me who have to learn her likes and dislikes (and honour both), learn how to understand the words she cannot fully form and to listen with my heart and not just my head. I am sure in her 90 years of living she has been ignored and unheard by many and has been shown more than her fair share of ‘cow pats’.

    When we go out together, or when we sit with each other during Mass at Church I have had to learn to ‘be’ there for and with her. I will continue trying to learn how to be a better friend to her, to discover how to better listen to her, just as she has will continue to have immense patience with me and my stumbling efforts.

  2. John Lau says:

    Great letter and I would say, Oblates haven’t changed. This to is part of our DNA, the shadow side of our charism. What is the translation for cow Pat’s? Thanks

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