Hippolyte Guibert had been 14 years old and living near from the Missionaries of Provence when they were founded in 1816 in Aix. For seven years he observed their zeal and finally, at the age of 21, he felt called by God to join them. In 1823 he made his perpetual oblation.

Guibert was a highly talented person, but always remained humble. Eugene recognized his qualities and gave him several positions of leadership, notably superior of the community in Laus and then as rector of the major seminary in Corsica.

The French Church and the Government also noticed his qualities and in 1841 appointed this 39-year-old Oblate as Bishop of the city of Viviers. (He was later to become Archbishop of Paris and the first OMI Cardinal – but that story is for later)

The government wants to appoint Fr. Guibert a bishop. I’m not surprised.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 20 July 1841, EO XX

The Oblates in France had already been depleted by the six missionaries sent to Canada, and now one of the most gifted Oblates was also being removed from the work-force. Eugene confided to Father Courtès:

To complicate further our quandary, look how our Father Guibert has just been taken away. There is no denying the advantages of this nomination in several respects but it overwhelms me in the present situation. I would willingly have seen him named to Gap two years ago — the reason is obvious — but at Viviers, and at this time, I am stunned.  However, I could not oppose the plans of Providence. It is Providence which arranges matters without our having the least hint in the world. It will come to our help.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 11 August 1841, EO I n 3

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    The word humility leaps from the screen this morning and everything else is coloured by it’s light. Frank describes Guibert as being highly talented, yet always humble; even as Eugene recognized these qualities and named him to some leadership positions.

    It would seem upon reflection that humility demands total trust in God, total truth about one’s self and others and total oblation for the glory of God.

    It is not a measuring stick nor does it deny actual goodness and light. I am a little bit surprised that at this moment I think of Jesus and his humility. It was never about himself but always about the Father, the glory of God. His ‘knowing’ came from God; he did not falsely hide his light – nor did his mother hide hers.

    I am reminded of the painting of Eugene de Mazenod and those following behind him on that staircase. I look again and see another painting, of human kind, followers of Jesus whose lights are reflected by Jesus onto those around us. This painting is alive and each time I blink I see different people and their gifts. It is vast and without end; no frame to contain it and none above or in front of the other. The light emanating from it is born in how we all join together – for and with each other in the kingdom of God.

    I return to Guibert who rose from within the midst of those first companions of Eugene and who had no need to boast or to brag in order to be noticed and given positions of leadership within the congregation, within the Church. Noticed and appointed by the government of France, Guibert allowed humility to be his publisher.

    I suddenly notice a small word engraved within the corner of the painting that reads “humility”. I see Guibert there and standing with him so many others that I recognize instantly. I don’t see myself because it is from their lights combined that I am able to see others. Yes, I am there too with all who come and join in this space.

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