We have been following the events around the difficulties between Eugene and the French government, and I have focused only on these for several weeks. While all this was going on, he was always Superior General of the Missionary Oblates. I will now go back chronologically to pick up the narrative on his relations with his Missionary Oblate Family.

During the months that Eugene was in Rome, Father Tempier had been his Vicar in France, handling the day-to-day affairs of the Congregation. Eugene’s correspondence with his Vicar shows his fatherly concern:

… When moving someone you must always ask whether it will result in the dismantling of the work that person is doing. … You could not do better than change Pélissier [ed. who had only been ordained for 6 months), Marseilles does not have much to offer him, but I doubt whether he has the capacity to endure the solitude at Billens; his vocation is too recent to be put to that test…
You did the right thing in giving that angel Aubert a change of air for a while; I do hope that it is only a question of his taking a break which you felt he should have, not of a mandatory rest. I am always anxious about that child, for fear that his health may suffer as a result of all the work he has. …
I am delighted that Vincens is not flagging, a few like him would do wonders for you.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 29 October 1833, EO VIII n 471

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    A bit of a different view of Eugene than the one we have recently been reflecting on; still the same man, with the same heart. There is an ad on TV which depicts a man blowing up balloons, surrounded by decorations for a birthday party. The view shifts to a woman in bed looking miserable as she says that she was going to ‘take a sick day’. The man looks looked aghast as a voice says that you don’t take a sick day from your daughter’s birthday.

    In the midst of all of the pain and struggle surrounding Eugene he was still the Founder and father of the small but growing congregation – the Superior General who is responsible for carrying out the overall task given to him by the Holy Spirit and the Church (the very Church who has seemingly abandoned him). Eugene’s wisdom, guidance and love for both Henri Tempier and the newest members of his family is solid and true, palpable. And as I read his words to Henri there is a tenderness that arises within me that comes from seeing how the strength of love overcomes all obstacles.

    I am reminded of a part of Morning Prayer: “Eternal Father, I thank you for creating me with so much love, and for your great fidelity and forgiveness in caring for me in the midst of my sins… Holy Spirit of God, I thank you for offering me so many graces and for having, notwithstanding my disregard of them, so frequently renewed your life in me.”

    Eugene in these moments sheds his light on us; it is an invitation to live in the light of oblation. What will be our response – what will be my response?

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