1815 : Eugene understands that God was calling him to invite other like-minded men to participate in his missionary dream

It is the second time in my life that I am making a decision of the utmost importance as a result of a strong impulse that comes from outside of me.

When I reflect on it, I am convinced that is how God wants to put an end to my indecisiveness.

Letter to Forbin Janson, 23 October 1815, E.O. VI n.5

1815, 2 October: Eugene bought the former Carmelite convent in Aix. He needed a large place in which to gather the nearly 300 young men who came every Thursday and Sunday to participate in the activities of the Youth Congregation. At the same time he needed a place where he could bring together a permanent community of missionaries.

1816, 25 January: the start of the community life of the Missionaries of Provence (later known as OMI)

The undersigned priests… deeply moved by the deplorable situation of the small towns and villages of Provence that have almost completely lost the faith… Convinced that missions are the only means by which these people who have gone astray can be brought out of their degradation… have the honour of asking your authorization to come together in Aix in the former house of the Carmelites

Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, E.O. XIII n.2

1816, 11 February to 17 March: mission in the village of Grans. It was the first of some 3000 parish missions preached in France during the lifetime of Eugene.

I prefer no doubt that you employ your zeal in favour of the poor abandoned mountain people rather than waste your time with the proud citizens of disdainful cities..

Letter to Pierre Mie, 7 September

For further details, see Alfred Hubenig and René Motte: “Living in the Spirit’s Fire” pages 53 – 67

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am struck by the immense trust in God that Eugene lived by. He struggled with what his friend Forbin Janson was asking him to do until God showed him exactly the way he was to walk.

    I think of Jesus walking along the shore – calling to men to join him, to follow him and how they did just that. Jesus knew what he was about – it did not just begin at the Last Supper. And I remember how during his life he stated what he was about – his absolute faith in the Father. And he gave witness to the Father time and time again throughout his life.

    I come here each morning and am repeatedly surprised at how Eugene’s steps and way of being inspire and lead me. At first glance there is a tendency to compare my life, myself to him and his great love. But eventually I trust and look at how God leads me through Eugene.

    I picture the two Oblata Sisters that we met last weekend, and heard their story of how they came together – each separately and yet with shared hearts. More disciples. Like Eugene they acknowledge that strong impulse that came from outside of them. It gives me the courage to look and see in my own life how I walked, my own steps coming from movement outside of myself. There were years that I walked slowly with God – I was not indecisive, but I also did not know exactly where God was calling me to be – which light he wanted me to stand under. But when it happened, when I met St Eugene de Mazenod and heard him say to me “read this letter at the foot of your crucifix” it was all clear.

    This morning I am reminded of the upcoming anniversary of my first commitment that I made as an Oblate Associate of OMI Lacombe Province, of when I joined in this family in a very specific way. There is no space here for false humility. No – there are times when we must acknowledge – to ourselves and others – who we are and how God has brought us to where we are at – in our own words. This is how we joyfully give witness.

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