Until now Eugene’s retreats were centred on himself and his own search for human and spiritual growth – all this for the benefit of his ministry to the most abandoned. Now, after six months of the existence of the Missionaries under his leadership, a new element emerged: he was accountable to his community for his conduct and example.
He understood that he had to be living according to the standards that he proposed to others. He had to lead by the quality of his life. If he was zealous, then the community would be zealous, whereas if he was lukewarm then he could expect the same from the others. He understood that where the superior is, there will be those entrusted to his care.
Up to now I could see myself as a private person, bound to yearn for his own salvation and do anything possible to reach it. That’s fine, but…
Now I have to make a very serious reflection, for my position has changed. Previously, if I were lazy and lukewarm, certainly it was the worse for me, but it was easy to remedy it, and the consequences were not serious for others. Today, if I am not fervent and holy, the works the Lord has confided to me will feel the effect, good will weaken, and I will be responsible for all the consequences of this disorder.
A powerful means to move me to renew myself in the spirit of my vocation and take efficacious measures to become holy.
Retreat Notes, July-August 1816, O.W. XV n 139