“When Bishop Hippolyte Guibert arrived in the diocese of Viviers in 1842, the Abbé Deschanels, chaplain at the shrine, was asking for help. Furthermore, the Jesuits of the house of Lalouvesc were no longer able to respond to all the requests for parish missions. Bishop Guibert was very attached to his own religious family and thus he decided to ask the Oblates to serve the shrine and to preach missions in a sector of his diocese. The General Council readily acceded to this request, for it corresponded so well with the ends of the Congregation. In the minutes of the January 14, 1845 Council meeting we read: ‘This is a shrine to Mary, our holy Mother and Patroness, which needs to be developed and our Congregation is called to do the same in other pilgrimage places that have been entrusted to us… By its location on the borders of the dioceses of Viviers, Nïmes and Mende, this house presents us with a vast field that is worthy of the zeal of those among us who will be its personnel’…” (https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/notre-dame-de-bon-secours-1845-1994)

Not only would this shrine further the aspects of the Oblate charism concerning the preaching of parish missions and permanent mission center of a Marian shrine, but it would also provide new vocations to the Oblates to send to Canada as missionaries. Writing to the Bishop of Montreal, Eugene narrated:

Believe me, dear Monseigneur, I have made sacrifices to further the plans of God for the sanctification of our dear Canadians and of the Indigenous who dwell in these northern lands. I must not deprive myself in Europe of the means to build up the family with good members.

To obtain vocations we must become known in dioceses other than those which have supplied us up to now and which are emptied. It is now several years that the service has been proposed to me of a shrine of the Holy Virgin from where the missionaries could spread in the diocese by organizing the preaching of missions as they already do in the dioceses of Aix, Marseilles, Fréjus, Avignon, Valence, Grenoble, Digne and Ajaccio.

I have just accepted this undertaking as much to renew devotion to the Holy Virgin as to recruit if possible some good members. But I need personnel for this establishment. I hope to invest for the future this sum of confidence in Mary.

Letter to Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 6 February 1845, EO I n 51

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning I rejoice and give thanks for Eugene’s having looked for new ways and places to serve so as to be able to send more priests and brothers to Canada.

    I have been involved in coordinating the Synodal Journey in my own parish, working with a group of others to try and ensure that as many as possible are able to take part in this way of coming together, praying and deepening our faith as we share and listen to each other. And I have looked at the tremendous gifts we have received from each other.

    I have recognized with humility my own journey in this process of enlivening others; a process that I first took part in with the Oblates and Oblate Associates of Lacombe Province during the beginning and height of the pandemic. I/we too are called “to lead man and women to act like human beings, first of all, and then like Christians, and, finally, we must help them to become saints.” This is not just something for the priests and the religious, but for all of us with whom the Mazenodian charism has been shared and nurtured. One small way in being able to take part in evangelizing others and in turn be evangelized by the very ones I have been to serve.

    “I hope to invest for the future this sum of confidence in Mary.” I, we are a response to the Founder’s investment for the future. It is with this bias that I humbly take my place with my brothers and sisters, finding new ways to serve God and the Church, and those I have been sent to love and care for.

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