An outbreak of cholera was always an event that filled everyone with horror. Eugene heard that it had spread as far as Switzerland, and he was worried about the danger to the young Oblates in formation there. He wrote to their superior, Father Mille:
… The first thing I want to speak to you about is the “cholera-morbus” that the papers tell us has penetrated Switzerland; it makes me very worried to know that you are so close to a danger-zone and so far away from me. We are under the same threat as yourselves, and it is beyond my understanding how it has not yet got within our walls, seeing the total absence of precautions that simple prudence would demand.
God is giving me the grace not to be afraid of it, but I am afraid for you, as you have demonstrated that your wisdom is not always equal to your zeal. A great responsibility rests on your shoulders and you must not forget that the least imprudence that compromises the community in your charge would be imputed to you.
Eugene’s recommendation was that the scholastics be kept safely out of the way, but that the priests be prepared to risk catching the disease in order to minister to the sick and dying.
In the event of its coming, those who are not priests must be put in a place of safety and the priests themselves must carry out the charitable duties required of their holy ministry, taking suitable precautions.
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Mille, 21 April 1832, EO VIII n 420
Eugene himself had risked his life in 1814 to do the same for the Austrian prisoners of war and he expected his Oblates to be prepared to do the same – that is the meaning of “oblation”.