Eugene’s awareness of the need for good priests had been a priority for him from the time he entered the seminary. Our first Rule as Missionaries in 1818 reflected this awareness and made it a part of our Oblate goals:

Article 1. A no less important end of their Institute, an end they will as zealously strive to achieve as they do the main end, is that of clergy reform and of repairing to the full extent possible to them the evil caused in the past and still being caused by unworthy priests…

1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter One. The ends of the Institute, §3. Missions, 78 (1951) p.14-15

 In 1826 this article was rephrased in the Rule approved in Rome by the Church:

All are aware of the many evils that have resulted from the deplorable disaster of recent years, namely, the evils that were occasioned by the apostasy of a multitude of priests who, despite the glorious example of so many of their brothers, have fallen from the fervor of their state, and have brought ruin on themselves and many others. It is because of this situation that our Society, with equal zeal and perseverance, also makes it one of its purposes to afford special means of salvation to such priests.

Rule of 1826, Chapter One, §1, Art. 6

Eugene’s response had several directions. He and the Oblates were committed to being available to journey with priests in need of renewal by welcoming them into our communities for retreats and direction. As from 1827 the Oblate response was also to be involved in the training of future priests in seminaries. As Vicar General of Marseille, he committed himself to these same goals for the clergy of the diocese.


“Self-reform automatically brings about social reform.”   Ramana Maharshi

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    As an alcoholic and drug addict when it was time for me to become sober and clean I needed the special help and care of others who who knew what it was like – who had been in the same predicament (such a nice soft clean word), the same state of life with all that entailed as myself. The folks in AA were those specialists – they knew my pain and struggles on a very intimate level just as they knew what it would take for me to find some healing so that I could start to live once again. There was no ‘white washing’ of anything I had done or been, no excuses, simply acknowledgement and a way to change. It even included God! I look back now and laugh for I refused to let any of them use that word in a meeting – the most they could speak to was a ‘higher power’. They were the “specialists” in my life back then. When I ended up 18 months later at Catherine de Hueck Doherty’s Madonna House I learned that they too were specialists – in the area of love and loving, and they had a ‘priest’s house’ for the priests who lived there as part of the community, but also for those priests who were wounded and in crisis – it was a place for them to come and be healed and renewed. I am sure that each of those who came and then later left went away with new hearts that were stronger. That was all more than 30 years ago. In the intervening years since then I have to admit to ‘bristling’ when I heard anyone refer to those ‘poor priests’ who might have not be perfect or who were hurting. Perhaps they needed something special to help them. One priest became “them” who I blamed for all of my pain and I would rail against ‘them’ because they should have been perfect (as in not human).

    Today as I read this and reflect on what Eugene began and what lives on strongly today I am able to recognize the healing that has been brought about in myself, my heart and being through and with my association with Oblates. Most certainly with Oblate priests, brothers and sisters, with all members of this great family. There is not so much shame as there is a sorrow, a sadness – as well as a great gratitude and love for each and every one of you from whom I have received so much and learned so much. Thank you.

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