Father Guigues will be accompanied by a priest and a deacon of the Society. With God’s help, we will send you more but I would wish first to take some time to breathe.

Letter to Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 7 June 1844, EO I n 37

How times have changed! Father Pierre Aubert was informed of his appointment to Canada on June 4 and had six days in which to prepare himself and join Father Guigues to embark for Canada.

My dear Father Aubert, I was far from thinking when I wrote you the other day that I would so soon have the occasion to write you again to confide to you a very important mission.

I have just received several letters from Canada. The horizon extends ever wider before us. To the establishments already founded in the diocese of Montreal must be added those offered to us in that of Kingston, either for the ministry to the Indigenous tribes or that of the great lumber camps. It is not possible to abandon the Townships where our Fathers are already doing much good. And now unexpectedly the Bishop of Quebec is crying aloud to us for missionaries for his immense diocese. It is all the more important for us to respond to his invitation in that we are the first he calls… As a consequence of this new state of affairs, I can no longer content myself with sending Father Guigues alone. Other Fathers must arrive at the same time as himself while waiting until I can send still more to these blessed regions which long for the Good News.

I am going to ordain Brother Garin deacon to accompany Father Guigues and yourself whom I assign to this beautiful mission. Make yourself ready to leave Wednesday so as to arrive at Lyons on Thursday morning at the address which Father Guigues will have given you. This Father will arrive at the same time as you with his other companion and you will continue your journey together towards Paris and Le Havre where you will embark.

I accompany you with my best wishes and my paternal benediction while regretting my not being able to be one of the group. Goodbye my dear son, I embrace you with all my heart.

Letter to Father Pierre Aubert, 4 June 1844, EO I n 36

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I ponder Eugene’s statement expressing regret that he is not able to join the group, to join Fr. Guigues and the two young deacons heading out to the new world to preach and share the Good News.

    I see that there is an unspoken expectation of acceptance and obedience – on the part of both Fr. Aubert and Eugene himself.

    I focus on the acceptance and obedience that Eugene exercised in his own life. He was the Founder of the young congregation, Bishop of Marseilles and he was still in his heart a missionary through and through. He had responsibilities and was obedient to his companions and his Church. I am mindful of the vow of obedience that he and Tempier made with and to each other so many years earlier and to which he was faithful. And he was also Bishop of Marseilles, he was obedient with that responsibility of having a flock – not just to the people in the pews but to his priests – shepherd to the shepherds. I am reminded of his remarkable honesty during the retreat before being made Bishop of Marseilles and how he had not wanted a flock, and how he then accepted it being thrust upon him.

    We can only imagine how he would have loved to travel to the new world and preach to the poorest of the poor: he was a preacher, and he loved serving the poor.

    It seemed that the obedience he expected from his priests, he also demanded and accepted of himself. There is, in my mind, a sense of the burden that had been thrust upon him and which then allowed to be thrust upon his sons.

    “I assign you this beautiful mission.” It was no less than the beautiful mission that he had been assigned to throughout his own life. I ask myself to look at what God has asked of me. Do I see it as a burden or is there mixed joy and rightness?

    Like Samuel I choose to respond: “here I am Lord. I have heard you calling in the night. I will go Lord, if you lead me – I will hold your people in my hand.”

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