At the end of each day, Eugene would write his personal journal and record some of the events of the day and his personal reactions. Today he gives thanks for the project of the orphanage which he and his uncle had established for the children left without families because of the recent cholera epidemics.

Although I am still not fully recovered, I could not refuse the appeals made to me to go and bless the temporary chapel and house for the cholera orphans. The liturgy went very well. After the blessing of the chapel and before beginning the Holy Sacrifice, I was content to address a few words to the large congregation to excuse myself for not having the strength to speak. These few words were accepted with a kind of gratitude precisely because of the efforts I had to make to express what I was feeling.
It was marvellous actually to find oneself in this fine building, put up within ten months since we came and blessed the first stone on the rocky slope. The work had been begun under the auspices of the chief pastor, to offer support to a dozen poor little orphans, and now I saw eighty of them in front of me, and in a few days another twenty are going to be welcomed with the same charity, and the same trust in divine Providence! After Mass, we went in procession all around the house to bless it.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 12 February 1837, EO XVIII

Eugene’s time in Marseilles would be marked by countless activities like this one as he tried to respond to the needs of the most abandoned.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene, seeing through the eyes of our crucified Saviour, noticed and responded to all those who were not being cared for by stepping forward to be an agent of loving change; here he was with his uncle, leading the way with orphaned children who had none left to care for them. One can only imagine what life was like in the wake of yet another cholera epidemic – the needs that presented themselves and yet Eugene and his uncle noticed the smallest and the least and made arrangements to build a house for them and to find someone to care for them.

    I am reminded of the words he wrote during his retreat of 1837, before being named Bishop of Marseilles; of how he had not wanted a flock to care for and yet even before being named Bishop he is the shepherd going out to find the smallest and most vulnerable of all the sheep.

    And once more he reminded himself that deep love and trust in God would ensure the ongoing care of all who needed to be helped – what had begun with 12 children was growing to be 100 children.

    I see how his spirit, his charism has been shared down through the years, how it is alive in all who are members of his Mazenodian Family. Each finding ways to respond to being sent and living out their oblation – their ‘Fiat’ to arising needs; loving with an unending charity and trusting that God will always provide.

    All “with daring humility and trust…”

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