Eugene was gifted in his ability to improvise in various situations. He was intuitive and his contacts with the people through visiting would have given him a good feel for what was necessary to be dealt with during the mission so as to make the people more open to the invitations of Christ the Saviour.

We also came across a sixty-year old man who is feeble-minded and has not made his first communion. We were quite taken by surprise at the way he responded to our questions. With no hesitation he gave a perfect explanation of the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, eternal happiness or damnation as a reward or punishment for a man’s deeds; in a word, we judged this poor man was able, after some helps he will be given now, to be admitted to the sacraments.
We also came across a foreign schoolmaster, a man far superior to the normal village teachers, who on the occasion of the mission, separated from a woman he had lived with over a long period and by whom he even had children.

Diary of the Marignane Mission, 19 November 1816, O.W. XVI

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  1. These last few meditations are crucial for how we live out our ministry with-in the Oblate family. For it remind us of our connection with the people that we One with. With in our present day parlance we would speak of a ministry of presence while seeing and celebrating the working of the Spirit and with in this Advent Season I would say that in “emptiness” there is room for hospitality and welcome.
    Blessing to all as we together celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

  2. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene met the old man with an open heart and saw all that the Lord had given to him, saw how the Lord had formed him. And Eugene met the schoolmaster as well – with an open heart and preached to him – giving both of them what they needed to live more deeply.

    I think of the old man with no formal training and yet God ensured that he was somehow given what he needed. I was a little like that old man in some ways for I had met God and returned to the church more than 30 years ago. God worked within me and ensured that I came to know him. Then around 15 years ago I met, again, the Oblates and was introduced very slowly to their way of living. Slowly and yet immediately my life began to change. Belonging, meaning, passion, joy, gratitude and so many other gifts seemed to fill me, to transform me. I began to grow, in God, in my beloved Church, with those I loved – each moment and day was something new.

    Today I am taking part in the Oblate Studies. Me who was considered to be and told that I was ‘stupid’ and that I would never be able to learn or go very far. Like the old man I am touched; the studies are building on the other things I have learned over the years. But once again it is as if all of life has opened before me in a new an startling way. I and enlivened and renewed; I am thriving and filled with excitement and joy and gratitude for all of life. I want desperately to share it and I will – somehow, but for now I am learning.

    Today is the eve of our Feast Day. Mary Immaculate, Maman. She too a part of the picture as I learn and go deeper – with her every day. One more sleep!

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