The foundation of the Congregation in 1816 had begun a period of zealous inspiration and overflowing generosity among the founding generation. Twenty years later the we find Eugene frustrated by the cooling off of that initial passion. The second generation of Oblates did not always have the same focus as the founding generation.

Eugene had just completed an official visitation of two communities under the leadership of very young superiors. Exasperated, he wrote:

The comparison between our own practice and the abuses permitted to enter our houses by our young superiors and encouraged by their own example only fills me with distress. Acting in accordance with their ideas, local superiors have just about managed to re-fashion the Congregation. I no longer recognize my spirit in the houses I have just visited, and indeed how could it be found when no one bothers any longer to consult me?
Haven’t I told you often enough, you young superiors, that necessity forced me to place you at the head of our communities long before you were fit to exercise authority, that your major defect has been to follow your own ideas, instead of taking your lead from what has been the practice prior to your arrival. If you had taken pains to follow in our footsteps, you would not have brought in all the abuses that I am having such trouble in rooting out.

Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 23 August 1836, EO VIII n 579

Two hundred years later the Mazenodian Family continues to have the responsibility of keeping focused on out foundational charism and the vision it gives us. Would Eugene recognize his spirit in our communities today?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    All of us in this Mazenodian Family have been chosen and called – we come from all parts of the world and with different states of life with none being better than the other; we all have our roles and our gifts, as well as our weaknesses and wounds. But we come together in communion in our sharing and living the Mazenodian Charism in our lives. And we all are invited to imbue ourselves with the expressions of this Charism which is, at least for me, the Constitutions and Rules; which still retain Eugene’s vision and spirit – in his own words in the Preface and then translated to the everyday in the Constitutions and Rules that follow. We live them in community, in communion with one another for none of us on our own will ever supersede the others.

    I must sound like a broken record but I look and pray: “Our call… to live Jesus Christ… in apostolic community; to live Christ Jesus crucified… among the most abandoned… in the Church… proclaiming the Word… with daring humility and trust… as prophets of the new world… with Mary Immaculate”. There is nothing nice in those words any more than there is something comfortable in the ‘Cross’. But they remind me, they call me to be something more than what I am on my own.

    Yes I think Eugene would recognize his spirit in our communities today. He might have to cut through some fog but it is there in our hearts. If we can recognize his spirit in each other, Eugene will most surely be able to recognize it in how we live as community.

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