The 24 year-old Jean Antoine Bernard was completing his Oblate formation in Billens and had been ordained to the priesthood 5 months earlier. It seems as if he had been asked to do a particular ministry and had expressed his reservations to his local superior in its regard. The local superior, Fr Mille, was young and inexperienced himself and it appears that he did not know how to handle someone who did not give “blind obedience.” Eugene responded:
I don’t find Father Bernard’s observations out of place if they go no further than you indicate in your letter. Nothing could be more legitimate than to make one’s desires known, but there is also the aspect that it is proper to put one’s confidence in the wisdom and insight that the good God gives to superiors.
It would be a grave disorder to cherish so exclusive a love for one kind of ministry that one could not be placed elsewhere, even for a short period, without getting upset about it.
To Jean Baptiste Mille, 30 May 1832, EO VIII n 423
Eugene brings up the question of discernment of the will of God in ministry: the importance of the interplay between one’s personal desires and the over-all vision of the situation which the one responsible for the community has. Discernment does not mean blind obedience – it means listening together to all possibilities in the light of the Word of God.