The novitiate year, at that time the first step in the process of becoming an Oblate, had been transferred to the house of Aix. The newly-appointed novice master was the 24 year-old Casimir Aubert. In this regard, Eugene wrote to the superior of the house, Father Courtès, to give him advice:

I urge you to keep an eye on the novice-master’s health; being very young and consulting his zeal more than his strength, he could easily ruin his constitution, which is not strong.

He also reminded the superior  to never lose sight of the role of the novice master:

The master of novices must give himself fully to his task. Consequently, he must never be diverted from his usual occupations concerning the novices whom he must, so to speak, gather under his wings as the hen gathers her young under her wings.

Because of the importance of the novitiate process, Eugene has to be a part of the process:

No one will ever be admitted to the novitiate without prior notice to me. At least once a month I will receive a report on everything. In case of doubt on anything, I will be consulted.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, October 2 and 3, 1834, EO VIII n 486

Almost two centuries later the process continues, not only for those who want to be religious missionaries, but for many laity who wish to follow the charism and mission of St Eugene as Associate members of the Mazenodian family. A suitable time of discernment, formation and preparation is essential for all before a commitment is made.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This speaks directly to me as an Oblate Associate, a member of the Mazenodian Family. It is not simply a matter of joining a ‘social club; or like buying a dress, trying a few on until I find something that I ‘like’ or that is suitable. And it most certainly is not just ‘my’ decision. Discernment is not a one-way ‘decision’ that I make on my own, but rather it is part of a response made to a call, to a community who join with me in that discernment and then help to form me. It takes time and fidelity and a certain amount of surrender and trust.

    I was reminded the other day of Eugene’s beginnings of sharing the charism given to him by the Spirit. His letter to Henri Tempier and Tempier’s response to him: “I see what you are looking for most in choosing your collaborators: you want priests who do not follow routine and humdrum… who are ready to follow in the footsteps of the apostles, to work for the salvation of souls without expecting any other reward here on earth than a lot of suffering and fatigue. By the grace of God, I feel this desire in me, or if I do not have it, I want to have it very much; and together with you, everything will become even easier for me, so count on me completely.” That says it all for me, it is the ongoing daily response of my heart as I try to live out my commitment.

    This fall it will be five years since making my formal commitment as an Oblate Associate, as my lived response to the invitation to be a part of what we now call the Mazenodian Family. One day at a time. The discernment continues, as does the ongoing formation, as does the lived commitment… I receive great joy and gratitude that it is thus in my life – how God has called me and then cares for me.

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