Missionary Oblate, Eugene de Mazenod, dedicated his life to bringing the Gospel to those who were most in need. During his years as Bishop of Marseilles he preached the Good News of salvation through his closeness to the most abandoned spiritually and materially. He did this by empowering people in his diocese to dedicate themselves to serving particular needy groups.
In today’s diary entry we see him focusing on the youth, on the most abandoned among the young men: the young delinquents and prisoners. Together with one of his diocesan priests, they started an industrial school for young prisoners.
May 21: Before my Mass in my chapel I gave the religious habit to three Brothers who are destined to serve the prisoners. They are the core of the association that we intend to create. I put them under the direction of Fr. Fissiaux, giving them the name of the Brothers of Saint Peter in Chains
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 21 May 1839, EO XX
To achieve this, a religious congregation was founded in the city, known as the Brothers of Saint Peter in Chains. They dedicated themselves to running industrial and agricultural penitentiaries, thus ensuring that the young prisoners would have a profession that would make a valuable contribution to society once they were released from prison.
Their mission continues today. In 2018 some of the Spanish members of this Congregation and their associates were beatified as martyrs.