God opened the door of Oblate mission to the British Isles by sending William Daly to join the Oblates as a student four years earlier. Eugene understood the missionary significance of this and was impelled to action in 1841.

It is known that we have in the Congregation an excellent native Irish Father who came to us as if falling from the sky. This subject has been very successful. He has consistently been a model of virtue and regularity among us. Among hisgood qualities, we especially admire his modesty and gentleness.
Who would have thought that this good and dear youth nourished in his soul the fire of a most ardent charity and unfailing zeal for the conversion of his fellow English heretics in England and elsewhere? Hardly ordained a deacon, he busied himself preparing the way for a facility that could provide the Congregation the means to contribute to the great work. Hesuggested he write to Ireland to call subjects suited for our ministry. He received responses that gave him the hope ofsucceeding in this matter.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 15 and 16 July 1841, EO XX

This recalls Paul and Barnabas: “When they arrived, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.” (Acts of the Apostles 14:27)

A note on Eugene’s use of the word the word “heretic” – the dictionary definition is that of a person who does not accept all the articles of established Church teaching. We shall see this more clearly in future entries where Eugene was pained that the people of the British Isles had been forced by Henry VIII to change their allegiance all because of his marital situation. In the Roman Catholic view at that time, these people were living in error through no fault of their own. Eugene saw them as being “abandoned” and wanted to bring them back to the fullness of salvation.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I think I must let God deal with the whole idea of heretics for surely that is what I must have been considered (as well as a few other things) when I returned to the Church and yet she admitted me with all of my flaws and wounds. I was one of the poor and abandoned and it seems that God wanted me back – in a place and with others who would teach and support me with love – in such a way that I wanted only to share the wonders of God’s love with those who were like me.

    A small nod of joy as I look at Paul and Barnabas and how they were sent out for the Gentiles – missionaries; and though I am very ordinary; I love greatly and fiercely and am impelled to share all of that.

    I think of how Eugene wanted also to rebuild the Church which was decimated following the French Revolution, with many of her priests being victims of the reigning governments and laws. Eugene may have looked at England and Ireland as it being an extension of what he was doing in France.

    Fr. Daly wanted to do many good things for and with the congregation – even though they did not always turn out as Eugene would have wished. Here is yet another reason for the vow of obedience amongst and with the other vows.

    I guess I might have strayed from Frank’s invitation this morning. But truly it seems always that God uses what God has, in the persons of the apostles and disciples, in the persons of St. Eugene de Mazenod and his early companions, in the persons of Fr. Daly, you and me…

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