The future of the Missionaries hung in the balance. Eugene was convinced that the direction for the growth of the Society could only be via the route of religious life and professing the evangelical counsels by making vows. Four of the seven priests did not agree with him on this radical step. It is here that Eugene resorted to consulting the three young men in formation, the direction of whose lives would be affected by this decision. Leflon describes the scene:

It was at that crucial moment that the Founder went into action. Having failed to win over the opposition with arguments and entreaties, he now resorted to more forceful measures. Under guise of explaining the Constitutions to the three scholastics in minor orders, who were full-fledged members of the Society, he summoned Brothers Dupuy, Courtès and Suzanne to the Council, knowing that they wholeheartedly favored his plan to change over to the religious state. None of the three failed him.

After “hearing the Rule read, they unanimously agreed to accept it and assured the Founder, as they had already done privately that they approved the proposed vows.” So states the official record. [ed. Actes du premier Chapitre général, octobre 24, 1818. A.G.R. Registre des Délibérations des Chapitres généraux de la Société des Missionnaires de Provence]

If, as Suzanne assures us, Father de Mazenod wanted to prove by this maneuver that these commitments were not frightening to the other members of the community, and that he hoped thereby to bring about a general adhesion, the experiment must have failed, for, in order to reverse the majority, he had to go still further by giving each of the three scholastics a deliberative vote. Thanks to these added votes, the contested articles were passed by the thin margin of 6 to 4.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think there will always be those who are ready and willing to go that extra mile – to give their all. For some this might not happen instantly – there will be others who will need a little time to look at all sides of changes that will take place and only then be able to surrender.

    I cannot help but think of the wisdom of Eugene bringing in three younger men who were as Leflon describes, scholastics and so members of the Society and who perhaps appeared to be filled with the kind of zeal that comes with youthfulness. Minor orders Leflon said – and I am always intrigued by this notion of having to decree the degree of belonging of given individuals. I remember some years ago saying that I was like a ‘daughter of Eugene’ and being immediately corrected and told that no I was an ‘adopted’ daughter. Funny as I write this it no longer has a sting to it – I am a little like the Gentiles that the apostles went out to.

    I wonder if Dupuy thought of himself in that way when he did not take the vow of poverty – that there were degrees. I took a little time to stop and read about Dupuy and discovered there the beginnings of the Mazenodian Family – here was a man who helped to create something new for the society to become religious and then later who found a new way for himself to be able to share in the spirit of the community which he truly loved. I am not sure how the Oblates regard him or even if he is thought of today but I have been most glad to meet him – this “brother” to the Oblates.

  2. Fr. Leopold Ratnasekers omi says:

    We cannot challenge the spirit of our secular culture and call people to confront the values of the Gospel message if we do not publicly profess and faithfully live those kingdom values in a radical way like the apostles who chose the life of the counsels. Fr.leopold R. Omi.

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