CONFESSOR TO THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING NOVICES

Father Casimir Aubert was one of the young Oblates who was very close to the Founder, who relied on him for many things. The Oblate presence in the British Isles had been started by Father Daly, who was young and inexperienced. Eugene thus sent the older and more qualified Father Aubert over to take charge for a while. There had been a few issues to solve and now Aubert was back in France.

God be blessed, my dear son, now that you are settled and at rest after a very long pilgrimage. The weight is likewise off my heart and so I do not regret this journey, however arduous and costly it may have been. Nothing less could suffice to ease our concern, after being disappointed for such a long time.

On his arrival at the community of Osier, they wanted him to be acting novice-master, which he did not accept – but it gave him the opportunity to be with the four novices he had sent from the British Isles.

You did well to act as you did on arriving at Osier. You could not, however much you may have been importuned, act as master of novices in a house where everyone has his proper appointment. You will nevertheless be confessor to the English novices as long as they remain with insufficient knowledge of French to profit from the direction of the master of novices.

Three days later, Eugene was still trying to finish the letter in the midst of his many responsibilities.

Mercy me! It is hopeless trying to finish a letter. I am going to seal this one so that you may not pine over having to wait too long. I embrace you with all my heart and greet your four Irishmen, recommending to them that they profit well from the remainder of the novitiate that they are going to do. Adieu.

Letter to Fr. Casimir Aubert, 21 March 1844, EO III n 6

Three of the four Irishmen became excellent Missionary Oblates, one in Ceylon, one in Canada and one in the future Anglo-Irish province. The charism given to Eugene de Mazenod was taking root and spreading.

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1 Response to CONFESSOR TO THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING NOVICES

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Eugene had great faith that his God-given charism, his spirit would be understood and then lived out with the novices who were just beginning to imbibe from the cup of life which God had invited them to take part in. And while he would not upset the order of things in the novitiate to ensure that these young men from the British Isles had a full understanding of the charism and way of life, he was able to provide for them a confessor and who would become a spiritual director to accompany them on this pivotal piece of their journey forward with the congregation. After all this was not just about these young men becoming priests and preachers, but also about the spirit that filled them, and the nuances of expressing that spirit as they prepared to make their oblation to God, to the Church, to and with each other.

    It has never been about our own “way” of doing things, our own way of following God, of saying yes to God’s call. It is about the way that we say yes, giving ourselves in oblation to God and to the Church. It is not about my way, but rather the way that God would have me be and do, as ordained by God. And that requires unending oblation, obedience, love, trust…

    I think of the many leaders down through time who sought to share with others the spirit that God had filled them with as they were called forth to lead us and walk with us.

    The question that we must all ask of ourselves on a regular and ongoing basis – am I faithful to where God has planted me and to bloom in the manner which God created me for? To become and live as an instrument of God’s love, as a cooperator of the crucified Saviour? Is that the leadership I try to portray?

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