Another point of contact and closeness was through the announcements made each day in the church, referred to as avis. These were vitally important for the unity of the mission and aimed at weaving all the activities together so as to persuade everyone to participate as fully as possible in everything that was being offered.
They were essential because they gave the right spirit to the mission and aimed at appealing to the heart of each person. In order to be successful in a place one had to be in touch with the listeners. Eugene was particular as to who gave these, and normally reserved them for himself when he was on mission – even when illness prevented him from preaching the long sermons themselves. Through them he prepared the soil for the actions of the Saviour in their lives.
There are many examples of the use of these notices in Eugene’s writings. Here are a few examples from the mission in Marignane:
The exhortations took the form of a summary of the points of the sermon and naturally led up to a new and more urgent invitation to confession.
Diary of the Marignane Mission, 20 November 1816, O.W. XVI
After the prayer, usual resumé and forceful avis on keeping Sunday holy, which was being habitually violated by servile works by the majority of the inhabitants.
Diary of the Marignane Mission, 23 November 1816, O.W. XVI
The avis turned on the morning’s liturgy, with a reminder of the most striking aspects, and some thoughts were added with a view to reaching those who had been unable to be there
Diary of the Marignane Mission, 2 December 1816, O.W. XVI
It was thus an important moment each day that kept the people moving along the pace that the missionaries desired. Perhaps we could learn something from here to transform our “parish notices” into something more than information-giving?