Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod was old, and thus handed over the pastoral visitation of seven outlying towns to his newly-ordained nephew, Bishop Eugene.

My dear friend, I am on my way to make a pastoral visitation in a part of the diocese. It will take me a fortnight and, please God. I won’t be wasting my time.

Eugene had been a missionary for some 20 years and it was in his blood to think and act like one. It was with an Oblate heart and approach that he ministered to everyone.

A bishop is primarily a missionary; I know my duty, it only remains for me to accomplish it as I ought.
If resolve were all that were needed. I would have no doubts about it, but it is something that has to be earned, for what greater grace can a man have than that of doing his duty well. It needs prayers: it is up to you to give me your help, my dear children.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 4 May 1833, EO VIII n 445

Since then many Oblates have been called by the Church to become bishops. Each one’s vocation has always been to be “primarily a missionary” and approach people with an Oblate heart like St. Eugene was.


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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of a recruitment ad for the armed forces and the phrase that the ad was built around: “to be all that you can be”. Isn’t that what we are all striving for? Sometimes we get confused about where we are going, or what we are doing, what is the really the most important to us; but our core wish for ourselves and others is to be the best we can be.

    I think of St. Brother Andre – the keeper of the door and how he greeted everyone who entered the Basilica and how he lived the “to be all that you can be” just as did, just as do so many priests, brothers, sisters, lay persons, parents, teachers, police and fire fighters – all living out from their hearts – giving and serving as they are called. Chosen, called and sent. Eugene’s words: “…for what greater grace can a man have than that of doing his duty well”.

    Members of the Mazenodian Family – we are all sent, we are all missionaries. Sent to serve others, to bring to others, to share with others our own experiences of God.

    So how do I look at those who are Bishops or more than that – how do I look at our Pope – not Oblate – but pretty close. I look at Bishop Tony and Bishop Pierre-Olivier. They are both first and foremost Oblates – that is where their hearts belong. I look at Eugene and the man he continued to grow into as an Oblate Bishop – it all flowed from his heart.

    One of the things that I love best about volunteering at St. Paul University is to see and be a part of the rejoicing and prayer that takes place between all the members of the community – be they staff, professors, students, volunteers. There is celebration of each other – their call, how they are sent out, how they live that out. Last week I met Sr. Annette, a new chaplain (for the university) – she introduced herself not as “Franciscan” which she is, she shook my hand and said: “my name is Sr. Annette, and I am a missionary.” And then she hugged me. From the heart…

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