IF THEIR STUDIES ARE NOT FINISHED AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, THEY REMAIN IGNORANT.

The Oblates had made an impact in Eastern Canada in the three years since their arrival and multiple requests were coming for missionaries in various places. In his haste to respond to these invitations, Eugene was pressed to send new Oblates to the missions in Canada. He had made the mistake of sending a couple of scholastics, who had promised to finish their studies there but got so involved in ministry that they did not do this.

I revert to your project to have your deacons ordained for Easter. I have just talked over this matter with Father Tempier who is more informed than I about the time these brothers spent at their studies, especially as regards theology. Let us not speak of the mediocrity, I would even say the nullity, of the literary studies of Bro. Loverlochère…

It is not to be supposed that he has studied much since he has been at Longueuil. I know that you have set him to learning the language of the Indigenous people. It is to be presumed that he has applied himself to this and with detriment for his other studies. In the name of God, let us not be encumbered with mediocre types. It is useless to lull oneself into thinking that their minds can be formed later. If their studies are not finished at the appropriate time, they remain ignorant. And yet in the missions more than anywhere else, learning is necessary because of the lack of books and of the possibility to consult.

Let theology therefore be properly taught and let there be no neglect of training in literary composition for a missionary must not persuade himself he has the privilege of preaching against the dictates of good sense, without style, without method and without doctrine, etc.

Letter to Father Jean Baptiste Honorat, 1 March 1844, EO I n 32

Perhaps still a relevant reminder for our students today?

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1 Response to IF THEIR STUDIES ARE NOT FINISHED AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME, THEY REMAIN IGNORANT.

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene knew that his young Oblates being sent to Canada would in a sense be on their own and how the challenges offered in the new world would seem to take precedence over ongoing formation, especially in view of the overwhelming needs put before them. Not to forget the excitement and passion of entering fully into the mission and ministry as they saw it. Priorities could be confusing to them. Without a solid background in theology as well as sharing in his charism, his spirit, and the spirit of the congregation it would be difficult, if not impossible for these young men to do the job they had been sent to do.

    “If their studies are not finished at the appropriate time, they remain ignorant. And yet in the missions more than anywhere else, learning is necessary because of the lack of books and of the possibility to consult.” Eugene is describing a very holistic approach to being Oblate missionaries, in new and different lands. Education, language, resources, and community are all integral to being able to evangelize the most abandoned and share our experiences of God, no matter our state of life.

    This applies to all of us who are members of the Mazenodian Family, and who are trying to live and share the Mazenodian charism, in our living out our oblations to God, to the Church and to and with each other.

    Eugene’s letter this morning is a very real reminder to me to complete what I have started and not get too lost in the mission itself.

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