Until now the Missionaries had gone out to preach missions, but here the pilgrims came to them and so the sanctuary became a place of permanent mission with the people coming to them.

More than 20 000 souls flock there every year to renew themselves in spiritual fervour in the shelter of this truly impressive shrine and which inspires one with something indefinable but which marvellously draws one up to God.

Letter to Pierre Mie, October 1818, EO VI n.31

The aim of the sanctuary was the same as that of the parish missions: to bring the most abandoned to conversion and to a life of fullness in God.

Apart from the pilgrims, the sanctuary church acted also as the local parish for the hamlet of Laus. It is important to note that Eugene did not want his Missionaries in France to be pastors of parishes as such. They accepted this charge if it was primarily a part of a missionary center of pilgrimage and doubled as the local parish.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Oblation – as I look at Eugene accepting this new way of missioning for his small society. I think of Mary with her oblation, her yes and how she lived that for all of her life – not expecting or wanting some of what was to come, but accepting. And here we have Eugene with his oblation, still in its beginnings with Mary and with some changes to how their oblation and mission will be lived out. They will willingly allow themselves to be drawn away from getting too comfortable on a well-trodden path in their journey, leaving that in order to be led into finding a new road to open up before them.

    Eugene learned to greet any occasion or event with a view of how it might draw him up to God, how it was but another opportunity to be in the ‘life’ of the Church. I think of the opening the train station in Marseilles – a secular event, good for business and how managed to find God there and how the Church would benefit from it. He continued to find ways for he and his family to help them to lead men to act like human beings, and then like Christians and then finally to help them to become saints.

    O the surprises that we are in for when we place our trust and ourselves in God’s care. I have noticed over the years with my many Oblate friends of how they did not necessarily want to be where they were being sent – they did not feel called to go there and yet they grew into becoming who they were called to be by saying yes. Oblation – with Mary.

    Our own wills, our own wants can get in our way. Becoming too comfortable in where we sit – at least for me it is too easy to confuse my wants, my will with that of God. Here we have Eugene giving way to the Church and to God – just as he will do 17 years later in becoming Bishop of Marseilles.

    What a beautiful way to look forward to the weekend before me. A big Happy Thanksgiving to all who are a part of this Mazenodian family – and beyond.

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