In sending missionaries to Corsica, Eugene was responding to what he discerned to be the needs of the most abandoned.
Firstly, far too many of the priests in Corsica had received very poor academic and pastoral training and it was their parishioners who suffered as a result. The Oblates were sent to Ajaccio to rectify the situation, primarily by establishing a major seminary to assure a solid formation of the future priests.
The newly appointed Bishop of Ajaccio took advantage of this opportunity to insist that some of his priests go back to the seminary to receive a proper formation. In his private journal, Eugene reflects on how the Oblates cooperated with this:
Letter from Father Moreau from Ajaccio. Very satisfying news from the diocesan major seminary. The work there for the directors is excessive because of the large number of participants, but their perfect behaviour encourages and compensates the teachers.
The second group calling for a response were the poor village inhabitants of Corsica. The Oblates responded by establishing themselves in Vico and making this apostolic community a mission center from which they ministered to the population and went out to preach missions in the isolated villages. The Oblates who staffed the seminary would join the Vico community to participate in the missions during their breaks from the seminaries.
They are persevering with the plan of giving the mission in Ajaccio in French and Italian. All our Fathers will take part in it.
A third response came from the forthcoming priestly ordination of two young Oblates who were destined to become fine missionaries for the rest of their lives, one of them in Corsica. They were both below the canonical age for ordination and had had to apply for dispensations in order to receive an early ordination
Letter from Rome. Dispensation from age for our Brothers Rolleri and Bellon
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 1 February 1837, EO XVIII
Today that spirit continues as the Mazenodian Family continues to listen to the call of the “new poor” in our rapidly changing world.