Father Fabre’s description of the last moments of Eugene’s life:

From four o’clock in the evening until half past nine, Monseigneur prayed and made us pray; he asked that we pray the rosary, which he followed while holding his with a deep faith.
Do I still have long to live? he asked the doctor repeatedly during his last visit. Oh! how I would like to see myself dying, so as to well accept the will of the good God!
Several fathers came successively to visit him: he smiled at all, but he only wanted to pray. Around nine thirty he asked that we pray the prayers for the dying. We hurried to do what he wished; Fr. Tempier himself, moved and broken-hearted, fulfilled this painful duty. We proposed to Monseigneur to chant Compline with him; he willingly agreed. The final hour had arrived. Oh! you should have seen him raising his arms whenever there was a verse in keeping with his situation : in pace in idipsum dormiam and requiescam – in manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum. If only you had seen him lifting his eyes to heaven when we said Nunc dimittis; his beautiful face radiated happiness. We paused a little to give him a few moments of rest. But the final moments approached; and we had to move more quickly.
We were all there, his family in the person of his venerable sister and of his nephew the Marquis of Boisgelin, an admirable person in intelligence, heart an devotion, the Bishop of Cerame, the Vicars-general, the secretaries, three Assistants-general, two Fathers of the Seminary, two Sisters of Hope, all his servants – we were all there to witness the death of the just man.
We recited the entire Salve Regina, which our well-loved Father understood and followed fully. At the words: Nobis post hoc exilium ostende, he opened his eyes slightly; at each invocations: O clémens, o Pia, he made a slight movement; at the third: O Dulcis Virgo Maria, he breathed his last. His beautiful soul was in the presence of God.
Standing close to his bed, Fr. Tempier recited with deep emotion, the Profisciscere; at the supreme moment we all said: Subvenite Sancti. We sprinkled holy water on our beloved father for the last time, and we all knelt close to the bed that he had just departed from, praying, weeping and, above all, we were happy. The good Lord had given us the grace of seeing a just man die, and to express all that we owed him in affection, in devotion and in recognition. Our brothers in heaven had to now take their place around his soul and accompany him in triumph to the throne of Him whom he had so loved and so well served.

Circular Letter to the Congregation 26 May 1861

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I find myself almost holding my breath as I read this. Talk about letting go! Our Lady must surely have been there with him, holding his hand, guiding him, bringing him to you for it was her name that spoke of even as he let go of life. I pause for a moment to think of Mary, and how it is for her as she brings each of her sons and daughters home to you.

    I think of Eugene’s serenity as he waited impatiently to join you, “do I still have long to live?” And those who were with him, those who he loved with everything that he had, and who in turn loved him so greatly. I think with a love that we are all called to live out, to be. The image of you on the Cross comes, with those at the foot of the cross as you died, those who loved you, those you had already claimed for yourself (I am as always unable to fully separate you from the Father. You are!) Eugene who modeled himself on you, in living and in dying. He had lived all of his life for this. I can only imagine the celebration as you greeted him, took him into your arms – for all eternity – however it works!

    Remember the Good Friday at Madonna House. In the chapel prostrated on the floor as we paused in silence having read of your death. Remember the music that I heard, so triumphant and magnificent, so real that I stood to see where it was coming from. All I was able to think at the time was that just as they had almost 2000 years ago, the heavens, all of creation while groaning at your death was celebrating your arrival, your homecoming,, the birth of your resurrection! I can only imagine the celebration for Eugene, and his joy. This is what I too yearn for. Yes the celebration and being with all of my brothers and sisters, those I have known and those I have yet to meet. But much much more than that – being with you fully, unhindered by my body, by this mortal life. I hesitate to try and put words around it for they are so simply and utterly inadequate and limiting. I would not want you to think that I want less than what you truly have in store for me. You know me Lord and I want it All!

    Just as it was for all of those who were with Eugene when he died – sorrow, loss for they loved him so very dearly, yet joy for he was finally where he had been created to be, with you. That duality. It is what we tried to express as we had our funeral mass for Joe Devlin yesterday and it reminded my of when my friend Tom died. Sadness that he was gone from our physical presence but so joyous for him that he was where he had long wanted to be, so truly with you.

    Again today I feel compelled, drawn to recite psalm 139 for it suits somehow what is within me. I shall write this Lord for all the world to see and to say it with me, it is for all of us – for Eugene, for Tom, for my parents, for scores of others, and even for myself: “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, to lofty for me to attain. ….For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

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