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