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