By February 1835, the cholera outbreak had become an epidemic. At the height of the epidemic Rey gives the average number of deaths of people in their houses as at least 83 each day, without counting those who had been brought to institutions to die. Panic hit the population of Marseilles with between 25 and 30,000 people fleeing the city to escape the ravages.

René Motte describes Eugene’s situation:

“At the time, Bishop de Mazenod had lost his civil rights because he accepted to be consecrated bishop without the authorization of the French government. He did not react negatively, asserting that Marseilles had no more claim on him, that he could have left the city like those who had enough money to find a safe place in the rural area. Quite to the contrary, he was aware that the Lord had called him to remain with the poor, “my place is here.” Moreover, his ministry as a bishop prompted him to administer confirmation to the sick who had not received this sacrament. His faith in the role of the Holy Spirit in every Christian life prompted him to make himself available to everyone to make sure that they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is faithful to this calling in spite of the danger of becoming infected.”

“Cholera Epidemics” in

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1 Response to MY PLACE IS HERE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I read the article which gave a vivid description of the cholera epidemics in France at that time which then reminded me of the epidemics that took place here in Canada among our First Nations peoples as described by Fr. Albert Lacombe OMI. The immense suffering and deaths – with the Indians and with those who cared for them – the Oblate missionaries who were across this vast land. I focus on the suffering and how Albert Lacombe and his brothers cared for, nursed, served and blessed those times.

    I think for a moment of Blessed Joseph Cebula OMI in the Nazi concentration camp – giving his all, working all day and then spending the night time sharing the little food that he had and saying Mass for those around him – suffering every bit as much as them.

    “My place is here” said Eugene, and perhaps all those early Oblates. “Our place is here” breathed Lacombe and all of his brothers and those who helped him with epidemics that ran their course across our lands. “My place is here” breathed and lived Joseph Cebula as he ministered to those around him in the camps.

    Today the world seems filled with epidemics of hatred and violence, dire poverty and faith that is often in name only. We have epidemics of hatred born out of fear of others who are different, who come from dire poverty – we erect barricades to ensure they do not come into our lands and demand that we share with them our riches of food and water, healthcare and the basic right to live as human beings. There are epidemics of fear of those who look different, pray differently, live differently, eat different foods and even who dress differently. So great and powerful are these epidemics of fear that we build walls and enact laws to try and protect ourselves from others.

    We are sent – we are missionaries in today’s world. All of us who are members of the Mazenodian Family are sent. We each take our place where God plants us, (sometimes where God uproots us and then replants us) and where the Spirit nourishes us.
    In a world given over to epidemics of arrogance and egoism, of trying to remove God from view or stating that God calls for us to centre only on ourselves and what that might look like and even worse where God is for a select few only.

    I take my place here and reflect on what that looks like.

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