From the very beginning, Eugene’s expansive spirit saw beyond his present frontiers towards other areas of missionary outreach to the “most abandoned.” In 1818 he had written in the first Rule of Life:

Even though, because of their present small number and the more urgent needs of the people around them,
they have to limit the scope of their zeal, for the time being, to the poor of our countryside and others,
their ambition should, in its holy aspirations, embrace the vast expanse of the whole earth

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Nota Bene,
Missions, 78 (1951) p. 15

 Now, six years later, we have been seeing how he heard and wanted to respond to the call of the abandoned across the French frontier in the Diocese of Nice.

Have prayers said every day that the good God remove the opposition that the demon must have aroused against the proposed foundation, which ought to be so advantageous to our Society and so detrimental to hell, for you cannot believe how much this region needs us.

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 24 July 1824, EO VI n 147

Unfortunately the Sardinian government was suspicious of foreign missionaries working in their territory, and so the project of a mission center in Nice never materialized.


“Doubt begins only at the last frontiers of what is possible.” Ambrose Bierce

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    When I think of the frontiers that Eugene cross in his lifetime – certainly more than just crossing the borders from one country to another, to new or different continents. He crossed social frontiers and I dare say church frontiers. I am thinking of the very people who he preached to and how he preached – the poor and uneducated, the workers and peasants. He spoke to them in their own language and loved them. This from a young man who had been born into nobility and wealth and which he could have fallen back on if he so wished. I am thinking of the prisoners, the condemned prisoners who he took the Mass to, the Eucharist to. Even the church ignored them and deemed them to be of little value. Eugene and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, all those who make up and come together as the Oblate family, the Mazenodian family – letting go of limits and boundaries.

    I kept thinking of the word perseverance this morning and so went to the Oblate Dictionary of Values and read William L Watson’s paper on Perseverance. It too spoke to me of crossing borders, daring, risking, moving through and past the doubts and questions, past the walls of society that we erect to keep us safe within. I shall go there again, for it reaffirms how I am walking and it’s something that I want to share with others in my group. Affirmation is such a gift, it’s like hearing that whisper of love.

    Which frontiers do I dare to cross today in my life? How do I let the doubts and fears in my life stop me from giving my all to God? I thank you God for this life today. Give me the courage to walk through my doubts, my fears, to give me the patience to listen to the whispers of my heart, to keep my eyes on you and ever pushing the edges of whatever frontiers I come to.

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