WORKS OF CHARITY: THIS WOULD NOT BE THE LAST

“Seeing the world through the eyes of the Crucified Christ” as a Missionary Oblate, Eugene was always close to the people of his diocese and aware of their needs. He responded by establishing various Works of Charity to meet the material and spiritual needs of the various groups of people.

 In explaining what this work of charity was, I am not afraid of proclaiming, in order to reply to those who could be surprised that someone was proposing a new work to them, that this would not be the last.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 31 January 1845, EO XXI

This short sentence is significant because it presents three distinguishing marks of Eugene’s episcopal reaching out to the needs of his people.

 1/ Firstly, his practical response to the needs of specific groups of people was always to create a work of charity. In this case it was the “Oeuvre des Domestiques” – the Work of the Domestic Servants. He makes it clear that he would continue this process of reaching out for the rest of his life.

2/ Secondly, on the day of this diary entry, he had been to the Chapel of the Mission of France, which he had turned into a meeting center for all the works of charity that did not have a special place to gather. He thus provided for the structure and administration of all the groups he established and involved as many people as possible to be the ones to care for that particular need.

3/Thirdly, he was creative in his responses and wanted as many people involved as possible. To support the work of the laity, he aimed to bring to the diocese religious congregations who focused on specific groups of needy people. When none were available, he became instrumental in the foundation of new religious congregations in his diocese. It was to this that today’s diary entry refers.

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1 Response to WORKS OF CHARITY: THIS WOULD NOT BE THE LAST

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Always when I come here I look to try and relate to what it looks like now in the Church, the world.

    Today God and Eugene seem to be calling many lay people to join them, and make their oblations according to their state of life. Like Eugene who was as Frank said, creative in his responses and wanted as many people as possible to become involved. This does not dilute the charism given to Eugene de Mazenod, but rather enhances it and keeps it relevant. And while our “oblation” might not look the same that is only because of the different roles God uses as his instruments.

    I think of the times that I have heard that Vatican II is no longer alive, cried out by lay and clerics alike. But I believe that we are just beginning to recognize our role in a church who has had to look at the role of religious and clerics getting to know who and what they are. And now they begin to walk with us in a quite specific way, helping us to discover who we are and how we have been called to live and be in the Church and the world. It would seem we are all a work in progress, as we journey together.

    “This gift [of the charism] is not made primarily for the benefit of those who enter an Order” be it Dominicans, Franciscans or Oblates. “The ‘charism’ is a gift of the Church that we receive to be made responsible for, so that it bears fruit for the benefit of the People of God.”

    Eugene was faithful to receiving and sharing the charism with his founding companions – in his way to rebuild the Church that had been so decimated by the French Revolution. And he continues today through and with his many sons and daughters.

    As I leave space I find myself silently singing the words from the “There’s a place for us…”. I am continuing to find my place within my heart, within the Church and within this Oblate Family.

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