In recent entries we have focused on the Canadian mission, but the missionary thrust was taking place in England and Ireland simultaneously. (See the entries starting from

Father Yvon Beaudoin fills in the details for us:

In all of the historical sources relative to the Anglo-Irish province, Father Casimir Aubert is always referred to as the founder of this Oblate apostolic field.

In 1837-1838 at the novitiate, he had received a young Irishman, William Daly, who followed the theology course along with the scholastics at the seminary in Marseilles and was ordained to the priesthood on May 2, 1841.

During May, a few months before the decision to accept missions in Canada, an opportunity arose to send Father Daly to England to examine at first hand the possibility of a foundation. “The purpose of this trip,” Bishop de Mazenod explained in his diary on July 15 and 16, 1841, “is to examine on the spot how a foundation of missionaries of our Congregation could be made …”

Eugene’s dream was to recruit English-speaking vocations to be able to end as missionaries to Canada and other countries where English was spoken.

If he had already determined a vast apostolic program from the future establishment, the Founder hoped to obtain vocations in Ireland. Father Daly must have received precise orders in this sense. He preached in several London churches, at Oscott seminary near Birmingham, then set out for Ireland where he met the bishops gathered together at the Maynooth seminary. He received permission to recruit and at the end of 1841 he sent to Marseilles seven postulants entrusted for the time being to Father Aubert; he expressed hope that a foundation would not present any problems.

Bishop de Mazenod understood that he had to profit from this moment of grace and send, as soon as possible, a trusted man who knew English well. The choice was easy to make since Father Aubert alone fulfilled these conditions … He left Marseilles in mid-July 1842.

Father Aubert was thinking of opening a formation house there but was soon disillusioned on that score. The bishops would not permit it. Nevertheless, he found a teaching position at St. Mary’s College of Youghal, an institution destined to supply personnel for the missions.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Rereading the account of Casimir Aubert in the Historical Dictionary I found myself looking at him in a subtle new light. He was most certainly a powerhouse when it came to energy and doing the many things that needed to be done. He reminded me in some ways of Eugene de Mazenod himself. He seemed to be inspired, striding forward into new situations, daring to make decisions that were not always appreciated by some. He dared to be imperfect and would notice some of the small things that would be carried down in history, such as the keeping of minutes of the General Council in his role of General Secretary and in which he served for 15 years. That is a position that even in current times is not sought after because it entails dedicated listening and recording and summarizing of what is being said, etc. He served in administration which is not always the first choice of a missionary. This was thrust upon him, and he carried it well. And again, I think of how Eugene himself had to make unpopular decisions.

    Like Eugene and so many of the other Oblates down through the history of the congregation (which is still young) they did the best that they could. There is within me a particular joy that they were and continue to be as human as the rest of us. The word “daring” comes to mind again. It has taken on a whole new sense this morning and I am grateful for that.

    I think that I have at times put them on an unreachable pedestal in my mind; pedestals that denied imperfections of any sort. Their very humanness now appears rather endearing and I realise that Casimir and many of his brothers then and now have done and continue to do the best that they could. Models to thank and imitate.

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