Eugene used the annual retreat of the Missionaries as the opportunity to present to them the Rule that he had compiled. The retreat extended from October 23 to 31, 1818. As the events of this retreat, and of our first General Chapter, are an important step in the development of the identity of the Oblates, I will present them in some detail, and let some of the biographers of this period tell us the story.
All members of the small Society being assembled, Fr. de Mazenod, communicated the proposed Rules and Constitutions to them. He made this reading coincide with the exercises of the annual retreat which usually began on October 23. Every day he read the six priests of the Institute a part of his manuscript and commenting and explaining it article by article
Rey I, p 233. quoting the “Diary” of Marius Suzanne
Leflon continues the story:
The six priests, Fathers Tempier, Mye, Moreau, Deblieu, Maunier and Aubert, accepted the first part on the aims of the Society. When it came to the part on the vows, there was a resistance that gave every indication of being insuperable. Only Tempier and Moreau approved the Superior-General’s proposals; the others formed a block to reject them. In spite of the guarded language of the official records, of eye-witnesses and of Oblate historians, one gathers that the reaction was rather spirited.
On coming to live at the former Carmelite monastery, the members had no intention of embracing the religious life or of vowing themselves for life to the Society. On the contrary, they had come with the understanding that they were completely free “to remain or withdraw” whenever it would please them.
Furthermore, it was agreed when they entered that the Society would not be anything more than a simple association of secular priests living in common for the purpose of devoting themselves to the missions. Now everything was being changed and doubts began to arise concerning the Founder’s good faith.
The situation then became extremely serious. If the four dissidents remained adamant, not only would the Superior be obliged to renounce the foundation at Laus and cancel the arrangements made with Bishop Miollis, but the Society he wanted to reinforce would very likely disintegrate.
His personal authority which, until then, had kept the embattled and fragile Society together would be given a stinging and devastating rebuff. Everything would fall apart from the one blow.
Leflon 2, p. 166 – 167