In 1816 Eugene de Mazenod and his first companions had come together to form the Missionaries of Provence. The plan was to have only one community, based in the former Carmelite Convent, and to concentrate on evangelization in the villages of Provence through preaching missions. Nothing further was envisaged.
Then in 1818 everything changed with a new step being revealed by God’s will: the invitation to consider changing plan by establishing a second community and a ministry that they had never imagined for themselves: a Marian Shrine.
This was to have major consequences for us: the decision to change from being a single group of diocesan priests to becoming a religious congregation in vows with more than one community, drawing up a Rule of Life, and launching into shrine ministry.
All this happened in 1818 – and we celebrate 200 years of these decisions in November. For this reason I will focus on these events and their meaning in the coming weeks.