The small Oblate congregation had been hit by the loss of two men. The existing missionary commitments had thus to be re-evaluated and decisions made to maintain only those works more in keeping with our charism and vocation.

As for myself, I humbly confess I am helpless in the face of the decrees of Providence. I had everything arranged, counting on the two men who have been snatched away from me; I must perforce fall back on our remaining resources to meet various sacred commitments, conformable moreover as they are to our vocation. I don’t conceal from myself the fact that many things are suffering in consequence; but I repeat, I’m not the master of events.

All the Oblates are urged not to lose hope and courage, but to rely in God’s providence and time.

Our duty to all is to do our best, each in his own sphere, with the means that remain to us. These trials should not be beyond our courage. Small wonder when a boat moves along with the wind behind it! The sailors can relax. But when the wind is contrary and the seas are rough, that is the moment for them to jump to work so as to reach land safely. So let’s show patience and be of good courage; don’t let’s allow ourselves to be beaten. How many times have we had the calm after the storm! So let there be no weakness but put a good face on things; men may pass, let us wait on God’s good time.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 25 September 1836, EO VIII n 589

 Advice still very pertinent today!

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think of the years preceding this letter – long painful years for Eugene to get through, when it seemed like he was totally abandoned, by his government, his country and his Church. Then once again in ‘active leadership’ he was faced with the loss of two men. This hit hard the entire community as they scrambled to replace some men in the jobs that Fr. Pachiaudi and Fr. Pons had been a part of.

    Currently I am immersed in the history of the Oblates in the 2nd half of the 19th century and the 1st half of the 20th century here in Canada and the US; and in a deeper way with Fr. Albert Lacombe OMI who our Province – OMI Lacombe Canada has been named after. Fr. Lacombe (already an ordained priest) upon arriving in St. Boniface with Bishop Taché to begin his period as a Novice was immediately sent on to the Lac Ste. Ann Mission to replace a pastor; his period as a Novice was put on hold for more than 2 years. Bishop Taché had made a difficult decision just as Eugene de Mazenod had 30 years earlier.

    This has been the story of the Mazenodian Family up to and in the present time. I imagine that each one of us can look at our own lives, reflecting on some of our own losses and how we have had (and may well have) to be open and flexible in how we minister in ways that are ‘more in keeping’ with our vocation.

    It is God who calls us, who as Eugene says is the master of events. “Let us wait on God’s good time.”

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