Imagine a 29 year-old Oblate being tasked with the responsibility of starting a brand new ministry in a shrine and being appointed religious superior of a 26 year-old hyperactive and extremely intelligent Oblate (Dassy) and also of a newly professed and highly-talented Oblate (Vincens) who is two years older than himself. A daunting task, humanly, for the inexperienced Guigues – hence the admonitions of Eugene to remember that, despite his youth, he is the superior and that he has serious obligations.

… I will be sending you Father Vincens who begins his retreat today for his oblation on Monday. I am asking a big sacrifice. I was counting on him to assist the Master of Novices and to prepare himself through an on-going experience of the novitiate’s classical regularity to become Superior at Billens.
I want Father Guigues to have a thorough grasp of all the obligations incumbent upon him. 

Letter to Fathers Guigues and Dassy, 18 August 1834, EO VIII n 484

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded of the many young Oblates who came from France to Canada – many of them still in formation. They learned from each other and eventually made their oblations and were ordained to priesthood even though some were by then seasoned missionaries and only able to spend fleeting time together. There was no internet or telephones and travel time was measured in months and then days. Even with the advent of the train crossing this great land, travel from the train line to missions by horse often had to wait upon the seasons. Yet – by the grace of God these young men full of fire and passion not only survived but thrived in their lives of loving service.

    Yesterday evening a group of Oblates and Oblate Associates met share and discuss “Graced Companionship: A Metaphor for Religious Leadership Today” by Mary Pat Garvin RSM Ph.D. We talked about how even though many of us were not in ‘directed’ leadership we learned and lead each other as we journey. Lived ‘Graced Companionship’. We talked about how the Jesuits speak about one country that no longer has any living Jesuits but their Associates are alive and thriving – again ‘Graced Companionship’. It is not confined or limited to religious congregations for we see it in all states of life.

    I look at the youth of today and see many of them stepping forward to take places with all of the obligations that have been thrust upon them. I see their fire and zeal and how they share that with each other as they live and practice this ‘Graced Companionship’ even as some accept and move into direct and responsible leadership – just as did Fathers Guiges and Vincens at different times in their lives.

    It changes as we grow older – it deepens and perhaps at times the burden of leadership can be onerous and heavy – just as it does with the young that have been thrust into it. I think of the words ‘Graced Companionship’ and two other words appear in their shadows: ‘Community and Oblation’.

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