The de Mazenod men were forced to abandon Venice in November 1897 and flee to Naples. All that Eugene had learnt from the Zinellis was to be put aside for some years as he discovered other attractions and lifestyles in Naples and Palermo. The foundation laid by Don Bartolo was solid, however, and would form the basis of Eugene’s life once again when he would come to his senses around 10 years later in Aix.

Father Pielorz (The Spiritual Life… p.73) tells us that in Venice “by their example, the teachers imbued their student with a desire to follow them in the vocation to the priesthood…. Unfortunately, this budding vocation was not able to contend with the crisis of youth. It began to fade away in Naples and disappeared during the years 1800-1805 to give way to ambition and the search for worldly glory. Don Bartolo tried to arrest the crisis through his letters, reminding Eugene of his “dispositions” while in Venice and suggesting that he follow him by entering the Society of the Faith. But, in vain! Eugene in his last letter to Don Bartolo, dated November 4, 1801, responded defiantly to his former master:

“I am no longer a child; I have grown to be a man!”

When this “man” really grew up, he would change and recognize and rediscover the treasure in his life that Bartolo Zinelli had given him. It was to be the grace of his conversion experience.

So I had looked for happiness outside of God, and outside him I found only disorder and disappointment.

Retreat Journal, December 1814, O.W. XV n.130

Surely the story of each of us on our ongoing conversion struggles.


“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” -Mark Twain

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2 Responses to I AM NO LONGER A CHILD

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Our Monday morning starting point; ‘Surely the story of each of us on our ongoing conversion struggles.’ For as I read and then reread I find my thoughts flitting from one memory to another, like a bee who stops and visits each flower it passes over, stopping to taste for a second or a minute.

    I remember hearing Eugene King come and give a homily to my parish about 10 years ago on the occasion of the parish’s 150th anniversary. He spoke about adult faith. His words touched me deeply and over the next few months I would stop to look at myself and see how if I had allowed my faith to grow deeper, look at where I was going with God and how I was I ‘living’. That was one of those defining moments/times on my journey.

    I was not a bad person then, but I was one who spent some time seeing how close I could get to the flame before the heat would push me back. Playing to see if there was any real happiness outside of God. Indeed there was but it was empty and not what I yearned for – I did not want something diluted and meaningless, but rather something that would continue to sear my soul. God was a part of my life, I was a good person but – always a ‘but’ – but I wanted more. I had already begun a journey of discovery on who the Oblates were and the journey was becoming increasingly personal to me.

    And it was with St. Eugene and the Oblates that I was able to begin to connect the dots of my life. A slow process that was incredibly fast.

    Just as this journey here each morning is a time of look back and at what is, this will perhaps be the focus of my day. There is behind all of these thoughts an awareness of deep joy and immense gratitude.

  2. Patrick M McGee, OMI says:

    I am reminded of the saying, attributed, I believe, to Therese of Lisieux, “On the way to becoming a saint, it helps to have gone astray!”

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