I have always viewed the episcopate with a different eye to most;

To Father Martin de Loirlieu, chaplain at the Church of St. Louis-des-Français, Rome, 4 October 1832, EO XV 165

Eugene had never wanted to be a bishop – and had refused to take on some situations which could have led him to being a bishop. His ideal was to be fully dedicated to his vocation of being a Missionary Oblate. It was only to protect and ensure the future of this small group that he accepted becoming Vicar General of his uncle in Marseilles – and then eventually to accept becoming a bishop himself in order to save the diocese of Marseilles by guaranteeing its future and that of the Oblates.

Writing to the Oblates he assured them that

… you will readily understand that this high dignity, this great character that has been bestowed upon me, does not relax a single one of the bonds that bind me to our Congregation, since, rather, the overriding reason for the submission of my will has been the consciousness of the good that would flow from it for the Congregation when the moment comes (and may God leave us undisturbed for many a long year yet!) when we shall have the misfortune to lose the protector whom the Lord has preserved for us amongst the ranks of the chief pastors, in the person of my venerable uncle, the Bishop of Marseilles.
Confined as we are, and still little known, it is my opinion, and those other Oblates whom I was bound to consult thought the same, that it would be very advantageous if we could when need arose indicate that the representative of this small and unknown family, but newly-born, and which has had to begin its growth in the midst of thorns, is a bishop, and a bishop chosen, elected by the Supreme Head of the Church, consecrated under his eyes and at his command, in the capital of the Christian world, by a Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and Regular Clergy, who represented him in this sublime function.

To the Fathers and Brothers at Billens, 24 October 1832, EO VIII n 439

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene – he came from nobility. After his ordination to the priesthood he could have entered into his priestly ministry a lot higher up on the hierarchical ladder than he did (starting at the bottom, without a parish, with the poor who had nothing to offer him). Along the way discovering that in serving the Church with her needs meant and was also serving the poor with their needs. Always he was obedient to the needs of the Church which he loved so dearly and it was precisely those needs that he responded to in saying yes to God and founding the Oblate congregation.

    This was something much more than political correctness or the building of a dynasty that would shine the light on him and his greatness. There is a small glimmer of light within my thoughts this morning and I recognize how the gift given to Eugene by the Holy Spirit – initiated, born to serve the Church was not a one-pronged thrust forward because it was also born, given to love the poor, to share with them the Good News. It was like a point of light moving outwards and the farther it went the more light it shed – it radiated.

    As I sit here I realise once again how he – Eugene – has done this through his sons and daughters, within me – how his light shines on me – not one tiny point in my life but one that radiates within so as to shine on my being. The very gifts and graces that I have received, in coming to know him and the gifts given to him by the Spirit – those are what I wish to share with others. It continues to radiate outwards. It is this that inspires and grows me.

    Eugene in saying yes to being made a Bishop, was saying yes to his beloved Church, to God, to serving and protecting his congregation in whatever it took to do that. What does that look like within my life? How do I as an Oblate Associate and member of this Mazenodian Family – how do I respond and say yes? And to what end?

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