The house in Billens, Switzerland, had been opened as a formation house for the scholastics when it appeared that the Revolution of 1830 was about to begin a persecution of the Church. Three years later the students returned to France, and the house in Billens was a house of itinerant Oblate preachers. The community became somewhat unfocused and discontented, unleashing Eugene’s anger:
I have to confess that the pen fell from my hand each time I made the effort to write you. What’s there to say to men who after so many years of religious life don’t have the first idea of their chief and essential obligations, and some of whom go so far as to threaten to leave if their obedience is not changed, in other words, if instead of being told what they have to do, they are not asked to place their orders, so that their tastes can be complied with … .
You want me to write and I have no blessing to impart, only anathemas. You are all at fault, without a single exception.
What would have hurt Eugene deeply was the fact that some who had made perpetual oblation and given their lives to God and to the Congregation, were now threatening to leave the Oblates if they did not get their own way. He made some personnel changes and harmony was restored.
I begin by recalling Father M. He will leave immediately on receipt of this letter…. I will let you know the destination of the others in due course… It is my wish that this letter be read aloud in the community so that each individual will be made aware of my displeasure, and no one will escape the reproaches that I feel obliged to make in all conscience.
Letter to the Fathers in Billens, 23 June 1833, EO VIII n 447