200 YEARS AGO: YOUTH – THE WORK OF WORKS

Committed to preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned and to be ministers of God’s compassion in the sacrament of reconciliation, Eugene continued to explain the ministry of the Missionaries in his Rule of Life:

Article 3 The direction of youth
The direction of youth will be considered an essential duty of our Institute.
The Superior General will appoint one or more of the Missionaries to this occupation, which he himself will participate in diligently, insofar as his other responsibilities permit.

Five years’ earlier, Eugene’s spiritual director had instilled into him that this was “the work of works: give it all your efforts, deploy all your zeal to form them well” (REY, Histoire I, p. 151) and it is clear that Eugene had learnt this lesson well when he wrote:

They will account to him for the state of the Youth Congregation, which must be established in all our houses with the same care and the same attention as the novitiate itself.

1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §3. Direction of youth

Each Missionary had “the duty of knowing the names of each congregant. “ Remembering that at the time of writing there were nearly 300 members in Aix, this was no mean task!

He also stressed the closeness of the Missionaries to the youth by insisting that they also have “frequent contact with their families.”

The youth ministry was clearly not something to be added on to the existing other ministries if and when the Missionaries had time. It was an essential aspect of the mission of each house.

[The Youth Congregation has been dealt with in great detail in entries above. You can find them all on the website, more specifically in the entries from 12 July (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=121) to 3 August 2010 and from 28 September 2011 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=1009) to 17 January 2012]

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One Response to 200 YEARS AGO: YOUTH – THE WORK OF WORKS

  1. Eleanor Rabnett says:

    The work of works indeed. “He also stressed the closeness of the Missionaries to the youth by insisting that they also have “frequent contact with their families”. This was a way of the youth taking back to their families what they were learning, sharing the gifts with parents, siblings, neighbours, etc. There is a beautiful wholeness in all of this. There it is – the real love of the missionaries for the youth – salvation.

    Many years ago in our parish a man started a friendship group called the “Singles Group” – an activities-based group for people who were single (vs being married) – the only requirement was that they were single. Not a dating group (although there were a few who met their future spouses there) – and not just for Catholics – although in the end many single adults returned to the Church because with our group they found a place for themselves within the Church structures that had been missing before the group began. A friend and myself gradually became leaders of the group and our numbers grew to 200 plus – bonds of love and friendships were formed which still remain today. Those members who had left and then returned to the Church came back without a big fanfare; simply by involving themselves with different ministries and groups within the parish – family, families within greater families.

    It was at times a lot of hard work – but there was also a depth of joy in it. I certainly never thought in terms of ‘salvation’ back in those days but I look now and see how it drew not only myself but others into taking part in other ministries within our parish community, by strengthening bonds of love with others in the parish as we became members of a greater family.

    “The youth ministry was clearly not something to be added on to the existing other ministries if and when the Missionaries had time. It was an essential aspect of the mission of each house.” The man who started that group was years later made and “Honorary Oblate”. And though I did not know St. Eugene at that point I am now able to see the effect and touch of Eugene through the Oblates on my life at that time. This is what it can look like within our lives as members of the Mazenodian Family – how we find our salvation in the salvation of others.

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