Twelve years after the founding of the Oblates, this letter from Eugene to his sister touches on all the major areas of his everyday life in Marseille.

As a son and brother he writes to his family to invite them to attend the consecration of the new church. Throughout his life he maintained close contact with his mother and his sister and her family – as they did with him, and with the Oblates in Aix, whose community was around the corner from the family residence. The family participated in the major events of the Oblates and of the diocese of Marseille.

My dear sister, I had written you a long letter which I leave on my desk in order to write you another that is shorter. It is to invite you to come with mother, if she is back from her trip, the day after tomorrow to attend the consecration of our church. The consecration will take place on Tuesday after Pentecost at 7 o’clock in the morning; but you must be here the evening before, because the ceremony starts with first vespers. The occasion is unique because of the tribunes which allow one to see what is going on in the church, where no one is admitted during the consecration.

As superior of the Oblates, we see him sharing his joy at the first ever church built by the Oblates. He would like his religious family to be present for this milestone. He also refers to the slow, but steady, growth of his Oblate family: two 23 year-old Oblates were to be ordained to the priesthood. (Each was destined to play an important role in our mission in later years. Bruno Guigues as the founder of the church in Bytown and first bishop of the city that would become Ottawa. Jean L’Hermitte, who had lived with the Oblates in Aix while studying law, discerned a call to join them, and was destined to become an outstanding preacher in later years.

I have sent word to Father Courtès to come if he can and it is convenient; tell him again on my behalf. He can stay here till the ordination on Saturday during which our two brothers Guigues and L’Hermite will be made priests. Tell him not to forget to ask for dimissorial letters for the minor orders for our brother Cailas whom I wish to ordain with several others at this ordination.

As Vicar General of Marseille, he had played a major role in the establishment of the Calvaire as an important center of pilgrimage – and the new church would now accommodate the pilgrims in a more fitting manner. In the diocese he also refers to his responsibilities to the diocesan priesthood in having some of the seminarians ordained to minor orders.

As priest and missionary, we see him participating in the ministry of the Oblate community of the Calvaire (of which he was a part). He had already spent six hours in the morning hearing confessions, and was about to begin the second session for the day as it was the Vigil of Pentecost

I don’t have time to say more. I must go to hear confessions for my second session on Saturday; the one this morning was only six good hours. Farewell. I greet the whole family.

Letter to Eugenie de Boisgelin, 24 May 1828, EO XIII n 67


“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”   Stephen Covey

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    What a beautiful way of looking at the daily life of St. Eugene, at looking at Eugene himself. I wonder did he stop to look at how his life affected others – most likely not in the same way that we look at him, see him. He was a man of many facets, many depths.

    I sit here thinking that I should look at my life in such a way, but I am not so large as Eugene. Anything that I do is quite small and I do not want to get into comparisons because I think that might just be my own undoing. So I look at my own life, not with judgements, or comparisons, but with honesty (which also entails the good and the very small). They are the small things that are not noticed, the ordinary that set the scenes so that others may be and do as they are called.

    I find it hard to find words this morning – perhaps because it is all quite ordinary. Years ago at Madonna House I asked someone why we had to set the tables in the Dining Room with each table looking exactly the same as the others around it. They explained with so many tables there and so many people coming into the room – to keep it all simple and the same would allow everyone to come in and sit down, to take what they wanted while joining into the conversations and being where they were called to be in that moment. I realised that I wanted to do that, to be like that in a way that would allow others to enter into, to take part in. Sort of like setting the stage so that others could do what they were called to do, helping others to shine.

    Even sitting here writing this has been difficult for there are no words of wonder or wisdom, just the ordinary small musings of how I will be as I start my day. And yet I do not feel disconnected in any way, even in my relationship with Eugene. I am loved as I am – much like a field flower with no exotic beauty or scent. Simply there to give glory to God in my being who I am. Not so many facets as Eugene but still he inspires and guides me.

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