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.