1815 : Eugene understands that God was calling him to invite other like-minded men to participate in his missionary dream

It is the second time in my life that I am making a decision of the utmost importance as a result of a strong impulse that comes from outside of me.
When I reflect on it, I am convinced that is how God wants to put an end to my indecisiveness.

Letter to Forbin Janson, 23 October 1815, E.O. VI n.5

1815, 2 October: Eugene bought the former Carmelite convent in Aix. He needed a large place in which to gather the nearly 300 young men who came every Thursday and Sunday to participate in the activities of the Youth Congregation. At the same time he needed a place where he could bring together a permanent community of missionaries.

1816, 25 January: the start of the community life of the Missionaries of Provence (later known as OMI)

The undersigned priests… deeply moved by the deplorable situation of the small towns and villages of Provence that have almost completely lost the faith… Convinced that missions are the only means by which these people who have gone astray can be brought out of their degradation… have the honour of asking your authorization to come together in Aix in the former house of the Carmelites

Request to the Capitular Vicars of Aix, 25 January 1816, E.O. XIII n.2

1816, 11 February to 17 March: mission in the village of Grans. It was the first of some 3000 parish missions preached in France during the lifetime of Eugene.

I prefer no doubt that you employ your zeal in favour of the poor abandoned mountain people rather than waste your time with the proud citizens of disdainful cities..

Letter to Pierre Mie, 7 September 1826, E.O. VII n. 253

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am reminded in our daily readings with the apostles and disciples – the very first missionaries, going out to the poor, to those who did not know the word of God but who came to hear of it, who came to know Jesus in a different way from the likes of Peter and John. A different face of poverty for some. Some followed a particular path in preaching to the Jews while others went further and spread the Good News to the gentiles and pagans. In a way being missionaries to those who Jesus had not touch directly as a Jew, and being missionaries to those right at home, in Jesus’s own backyard so-to-speak. The in Eugene’s time, the poor whom the structures of the church did not touch; the youth, the prisoners, the workers of the world who were not only poor but who held up the rich – some of them maybe having heard somehow of Jesus and God but their lives a misery and they did not know in a deep and intimate way the profound love of God. At the same time touching many who were a part of the church, touching many directly within the church itself and their very selves. It seems that Eugene and those early Oblates did not have very far to look to find as they missioned to each other, to those around them, in the church and their own towns and to the many in far off lands.

    And today it is no different, as we struggle to look at where to go with fewer numbers, and how we do what we do. Who are the poor today within our communities, our parishes, our churches and beyond? Who are the ones that the structures of the church do not touch (no matter the reason)? Coming here this morning I am reminded of what Joe Gunn said to us last week during our Community Days when speaking to us about the poor. He said: “They’re disposable in a throw-away culture in which the excluded are not so much exploited as they’re the ‘left-overs’ of society.” Who are those poor, the ‘left-overs’ of our society, of our church, of our communities? Who are we sent to? I think of Jesus on that cross and rising again and I think of Eugene and the many of Oblates who have come and those who will come – co-operators of the Savior, on the cross in a way, the poverty and riches, knowing them both.

    I am fired-up, impassioned with the message of the gospels. I am inspired, supported and realised with my community. The basic message has not changed from 2000 years ago or even 200 years ago. In being ministered to I have also become a minister. How wondrous is our God? All this to arrive at a small point of starting my day – today with the quiet echo of my heart singing ‘How great thou art’.

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