The “difficulties of my position and my soul’s bitter distress” was caused by the imminent death of a trusted Oblate at the age of 28, and of the departure of another. A double blow for the Oblates.
And now another blow, what can I do in the face of Providence’s severe decrees, what can I do even when faced with the cowardly folly and insensitivity of men? Let us speak no more of Pachiaudi who has so unworthily betrayed the Society and trodden underfoot so many duties. Even so his desertion does leave a gap that I cannot fill;
Eugene was understandably upset by the departure of Fr. Pachiaudi and expressed this harshly. In fact he later entered the monastery of La Grand Chartreuse where he held important positions as a monk.
but still more crushing, tearing at my soul and striking at my very existence, is the desperate condition in which our wonderful and irreplaceable Pons finds himself. For four days he has been betwixt life and death, and short of a miracle he cannot survive. The nature of his illness moreover keeps me in a state of continual anxiety for all these good young brothers who are nursing him with prodigal and heroic charity. He has no less than the most virulent form of typhus, and all those who are nursing him, which includes the whole community, feel in varying degrees the effects of the influence of this sickness that is carrying our dear and precious brother to the grave.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 15 September 1836, EO VIII n 583
Father Pons was only 28 years old and was a capable and respected professor at the Major Seminary in Marseilles.
So we have to resign ourselves to the loss of one of our best men and it will be a long time before we find a replacement. It is God’s will, that is everything; but it goes to the heart and the gap will make itself felt.
Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 16 September 1836, EO VIII n 584
We touch Eugene’s suffering and his anxiety for the health of the younger members of the community who were in danger of contracting the contagious disease as they ministered to their brother in the difficult medical circumstances of the 18th century.