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?