Writing to Fr Mille about the death of an Oblate, Eugene noted the need to replace them with new candidates:
Heaven is filling up with our men. If it is consoling to see all those who have been taken from us die as men predestined, it is impossible not to be saddened at seeing our ranks thin out, without anyone coming forward to replace those who have gone to take possession of glory, since it is the reward promised those who persevere to the end.
To fill the ranks, Eugene had just opened the first Oblate juniorate. As this was the beginning of a long process of discernment and formation, Eugene reflected to the young Mille:
The little colony of Lumières is a source of hope, but it will have to live longer than I can count on to enjoy results of a good initiative that is so strong in its seedling state. You are still young enough to see the ear of corn forming, coming to maturity and you will gather it in jubilation; as for me it seems that I am destined only to sow in tears. If that be God’s will, I accept it.
Letter to Jean Baptiste Mille, 16 April 1841, EO IX n 728
In his personal diary, Eugene wrote about this venture that today we call a pre-novitiate which was started
to receive the students that we have decided to admit to provide subjects for our novitiate which is completely depopulated. The trial that we did this year is encouraging. All the young people in this house of studies are animated with a good spirit. They burn with the desire to be worthy to beadmitted to the novitiate when they finish their classes.
To provide for their instruction, we brought our Oblates [ed. scholastics] to this house, those who have finished their theology as well as those whoare still taking courses. While studying themselves, they will make others work and their good example will strengthen them in their vocation. Those of our Fathers who have visited the house were delighted. Let us pray God to spread more and more of his heavenly blessing upon it.
Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 12 May 1841, EO XVIII