Eugene and some of the Missionaries were fully involved in the seven-week long parish mission at La Ciotat. Some extracts from the few letters he had time to write to the people closest to him give us some glimpses of the mission.

To his mother, who constantly worried about his health and physical welfare he wrote:

You would probably be unhappy, dear Mother, if I did not give you some news about myself. So, I am writing a few lines to say that we arrived safely, in marvelous health. We are very pleased with the beginning of our mission. Continue to pray that some good is done and that everyone may profit from such a precious grace as that which is now offered to the inhabitants of this city. As I must treat you as a mother, I won’t forget to tell you that we are eating excellent fish here and are lacking nothing for our bodily needs.

Letter to his mother, 6 November 1821, EO XIII n 40

 May this dear friend be pleased by this short note that I am writing him in the midst of combat, on the battlefield, still armed with every weapon against hell against which we are powerfully striking, with God’s help.

Letter to Adolphe Tavernier, November- December 1821, EO XIII n 41

 According to the last census, there are 398 widows and 97 widowers only. Youths are almost in the same proportion… The fishermen are delighted with the proposal I made to them to go and plant a cross expressly for them on a neighbouring island where they hang their nets to dry. If the weather continues to be as fine as it has not ceased to be since our arrival here, this excursion on the sea will be splendid.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtes, 28 November 1821, EO VI n 77

 We have finished the mission of La Ciotat, one of the most tiring we have done. I am giving you no details: the blessings have been abundant but we were four confessors less than were needed, which is a very great misfortune. The Archbishop came to give Confirmation and took part in the erecting of the cross which was magnificent. The weather only ceased to be fine when we no longer needed its help.

Letter to Henri Tempier, 28 December 1821, EO VI n 79


“We have all known the long loneliness, and we have found that the answer is community.”     Dorothy Day

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a wonderful picture, painted from from the 4 different letters, each with their own flavor depending on the time and who he was writing to and what their own particular focuses were.

    In his letter to Hippolyte Courtes Eugene mentioned the planting of the mission cross on the island where the fishermen would hang their nets and I was struck again of his deep love for all of the people they were giving the missions to and of giving his all. They went out to the people where they lived in more than just one way. The island where they hung their nets to dry was integral and so much a part of their daily lives – how wonderful of Eugene and his men to take those extra steps and “go the extra mile”. What a wonderful and powerful reminder that cross would be as they returned there to hang their nets – reminding them of God in all aspects of their lives.

    And in his letter to Henri Tempier where again the focus shifted and I wonder what was behind the “I am giving you no details” that he wrote. And I loved how he wrote of the weather – that is was made to order according to what they (Eugene and the others with him) needed in order to best complete their mission. I am reminded of R Rohr’s meditation today; “…God loves me just as I need to be loved.” God gave Eugene and the others exactly what they needed to complete this mission. Awesome, simply awesome.

    What shall God give to me today so that I can live out and share this wonderous love that each of us is given, but more particularly me? I don’t know in advance, but can only ask that I be open to whatever it will be. I thank God today for all that I received yesterday and walk forward open and eager for yet another day of love, of whatever that looks like. Not alone, for God is within and always present, but also with all those who come together to form the joining of different communities into one. Those lines of fire, of love that connect us all.

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