Following the lead of the King and his government, the municipality of Marseilles was also hostile to the Church. In 1832 they removed the stipend and the premises of the Christian Brothers who ran a school for the poor. Eugene, as Vicar General of Marseilles, stepped in immediately to rescue the Brothers.
… I hope that the collection for our schools will be sufficient. I had ten thousand francs, nearly double that will be needed again. The rent of the house alone will cost more than four thousand.
Eugene had been collecting money to build a new church in an area where there was no place of worship. However, the needs of the pupils who had been ejected were more important than the bricks of a building (however meritorious the building a much-needed church was).
Providence will come to our help but what a body-blow for our church of St. Lazarus. When we were laying our plans, we had no thought of the Brothers’ misfortune. No matter, there is no shortage of courage, we gave them priority because the living members of Christ, which all these poor abandoned children are, ought to have preference over the temple even of Jesus Christ. This good Master, who inspires us and who judges our intention, will not abandon us. I am pledged for thirty thousand francs. He would send down a shower of gold from the skies sooner than see our trust betrayed.
To Bruno Guigues, 23 March 1832, EO VIII n 419
Which priorities are we bombarded with every day by our newspapers and television news? Structures, efficiency, smooth administration, political correctness – or responding to the human and spiritual needs of people in distress…?