While the Oblates and those in Marseilles were in the thick of ministering to the cholera victims, Eugene was away at the community of Osier and then Laus. As we have seen above he had had to leave Marseilles as a result of the political situation. Separated from those whom he loved and who were in mortal danger, he wanted to return to be with them during this difficult time. Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod and Father Tempier (to whom he had made a vow of obedience in 1816) forbade him to return. The correspondence of July and August 1835 shows the conflict that he was living. On one hand, he felt called to be with his people, and on the other, he was bound to be obedient to these two figures who had a moral authority in his life.
The almost-daily correspondence of this period goes back and forth between Marseilles and ND du Laus, with Eugene’s every request to return being refused. Just a few excerpts:
My dear Tempier, your letter of the 17th fills me with dismay. On top of the heartbreak at the picture of so many families’ desolation there’s the thought of the danger you are running, and that is hanging over the heads of all our Fathers at Aix and Marseilles. I am being kept here and I would like to take my leave for your sake and theirs too, although it is true they don’t need any encouragement.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 20 July 1835, EO VIII n 525
My dear Friend, you understand the cruel anguish I’ve been experiencing ever since I’ve been aware that you, my uncle and friends are living under the threat of an epidemic as murderous as that hanging over your heads. I find it impossible to express the state of my feelings. You’ll readily understand that from the first day I learnt of the danger, I had the thought of going to join you.
Letter to Henri Tempier, 31 July 1835, EO VIII n 528
Far from the scene of the evil, I have been caged-up; but I am sick with annoyance in consequence. I wanted to set out from here, riding rough-shod over all the considerations that have bound me up to the present, but Father Tempier has leagued himself with the Bishop of Marseilles, who has the final say in the matter, to require me to stay at Laus where the novices and oblates have been sent leaderless to me.
Letter to Bruno Guigues, 1 August 1835, EO VIII n 529
It is worthy of note to see that this man, who was always the leader and superior in every situation, was capable of being obedient himself to those to whom he was committed to obey.
Just as suddenly as the cholera had started, so too did this second epidemic of 1835 end. I have spent a long time on the correspondence around this event because it brings out many of the fundamental values and attitudes of an oblation lived out in difficult circumstances.