This was the only time in the history of the Missionary Oblates when men who were not in life-long commitment (perpetual vows) participated fully in a General Chapter, with the right to vote.

Just how proper was the procedure on that occasion? The Acts of the first general Chapter which Suzanne drew up eight years later in 1826, admit that this session of the Chapter was “the only one at which unordained members were present.” However, as it was noted in the Acts, the Constitutions had not as yet come into force. Furthermore, it was declared only just that the three scholastic brothers, who were full-fledged members of the Institute should have the right to express their opinion at a moment when a decision of the greatest importance was being made, since it affected not only the future of the whole Society, but their individual futures as well.

The fact still remains, nonetheless, that on this occasion they had played a deciding role, and that their opinion won out over that of the Fathers.

Leflon 2, p. 167 – 168

Today we continue to be defined by this decision:

We come together in apostolic communities of priests and Brothers, united to God by the vows of religion. Cooperating with the Saviour and imitating his example, we commit ourselves principally to evangelizing the poor.

CC&RR, Constitution 1

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What Eugene did to secure the vote was extraordinary and daring. Starting something new often takes extraordinary measures as they strive to begin. I think ahead to when Eugene started to send men out into the foreign missions – they had not yet finished their full formation and would have to do this as they received ‘on-the-spot formation’ in places that were incredibly different from France.

    In a sense they were all learning as they went along – which is what we all do in our own ways. Jesus himself started a new way, he and his apostles founded the ‘way’ and that’s who Eugene was modelling as he brought those first men together. He had been given a particular spirit to share and he found a way to do it.

    “…read this letter at the foot of your crucifix with a mind to heed only God and what is demanded of a priest like yourself in the interests of God’s glory and the salvation of souls.” This is what Eugene was doing, what was demanded of him. I remember first hearing that invitation myself as Fr. Jim read to me that very letter from Eugene to Henri Tempier. I felt as if Eugene was speaking to me personally – an invitation to share in the charism.

    I think of the many over the last 60+ years who have dared to shape and grow the spirit of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – carrying it into a new age, a new era, just as the Church was doing for all of the world. Rule 37a from the OMI Constitutions and Rules which speaks to the advent of the laity being invited to actively take part as called by God, as part of the greater Mazenodian Family – a new opening of the Oblates to invite those of us called to walk with them. Daring moves and changes – every bit as different for the Oblates as it is for the many of us who dare to step forward and say yes – this is where God is calling us to be. We stumble, but we get up and find ways to keep going for this is new to us too.

    We all come together in apostolic communities, united by God. Cooperating with the Saviour and imitating his example, we commit ourselves principally to evangelizing the poor. Like the Oblates we are finding new ways to do this.

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