At the height of the epidemic, Eugene described the situation in Marseilles:

My dear Son, the demands made on us increase by the day. It was two hours past midnight before I got to bed yesterday. We are in a state of maximum alert on account of the re-appearance of the horrid disease that is afflicting our city.
We have had to bring immediate relief to the most urgent cases. In some parishes, like La Major and St. Laurent, the clergy were at the end of their tether. I have given two Missionaries to St. Laurent. Calvaire is doing more in the line of service than a parish; the people like to come to the Missionaries in their need.
I am myself on call in every district for the administration of the sacrament of confirmation to the large number of those who have neglected to receive it; I am fresh now from the hospital, and on my return there are a host of matters to be attended to from all over. I have just received a summons at this very moment to a poor woman who will not be for this world tomorrow.
I take up my pen again to express my regrets at my inability to respond to your requests which I would love to satisfy, but you understand that my place is here, and that I must give an example of a holy courage.

Letter to Casimir Aubert, 10 March 1835, EO VIII n 508

Where the most abandoned were suffering was the place where Eugene had to be as a cooperator of the Savior.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I find myself thinking this morning about what ‘holy’ courage looks like and how it is rooted in God.

    I think of the ‘super-human’ and ‘holy courage, of Jesus as he allowed himself to be taken and put to death as a scapegoat – ‘holy courage’. Eugene and his Oblates not just in France and not just after the French Revolutions but around the world in the 200 years since the founding of our congregation. Oblates who displayed ‘holy courage’ in their daily lives and whose stories can be found in the “Oblate Heritage Series”.

    I think of a couple of Oblates that I have known and how they displayed holy courage as they served in in Guatemala and other parts of South America, who in holy courage stood before the ‘death squads’, the guerrilla armies; standing in holy courage.

    And there is Immaculée Ilibagiza who met in the book “Left to Tell” and who stood up before the slaughterers of the Rwanda genocide. After hiding with some other young women for 91 day left the safety of their hiding place to go to where it would be safe and who had to face a mob on their way along the road. Immaculée, their leader stood before and walked through the group of killers with the deep knowledge and faith that God would protect her and those who were with her. Immaculée herself giving an example of ‘holy courage’. And more recently the young father carrying his child on his back as he swam across the water to try and bring his child to a country where they might get the basics to live – an example of immense love and holy courage.

    I look at my own life and when there have been moments of ‘holy courage’. Always, of course always these moments have been fueled with God’s love, for on my own I would not have been able to do it.

    What does that look like – holy courage? That is what we are invited to do this morning; look at the moments in our lives when God has filled us with ‘holy courage’.

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