Committed to preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned and to be ministers of God’s compassion in the sacrament of reconciliation, Eugene continued to explain the ministry of the Missionaries in his Rule of Life:
Article 3 The direction of youth
The direction of youth will be considered an essential duty of our Institute.
The Superior General will appoint one or more of the Missionaries to this occupation, which he himself will participate in diligently, insofar as his other responsibilities permit.
Five years’ earlier, Eugene’s spiritual director had instilled into him that this was “the work of works: give it all your efforts, deploy all your zeal to form them well” (REY, Histoire I, p. 151) and it is clear that Eugene had learnt this lesson well when he wrote:
They will account to him for the state of the Youth Congregation, which must be established in all our houses with the same care and the same attention as the novitiate itself.
1818 Rule Part 1, Chapter 3, §3. Direction of youth
Each Missionary had “the duty of knowing the names of each congregant. “ Remembering that at the time of writing there were nearly 300 members in Aix, this was no mean task!
He also stressed the closeness of the Missionaries to the youth by insisting that they also have “frequent contact with their families.”
The youth ministry was clearly not something to be added on to the existing other ministries if and when the Missionaries had time. It was an essential aspect of the mission of each house.
[The Youth Congregation has been dealt with in great detail in entries above. You can find them all on the website, more specifically in the entries from 12 July (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=121) to 3 August 2010 and from 28 September 2011 (http://www.eugenedemazenod.net/?p=1009) to 17 January 2012]