Writing to the Bishop of Montreal to inform him of the appointment of Father Guigues, Eugene refers to him as his “alter ego.”

Given this state of affairs, it will not suffice that I send more members to enable the founding of communities which are requested. I regard it as a duty to make the utmost sacrifice for the sake of suitably organizing a kind of province of our Congregation in America. I have had to choose for that a distinguished man who has proved his worth in a difficult administrative situation. He also enjoys much esteem within and without the Congregation…

It is Father Guigues to whom I entrust this mission, with the most extensive faculties. He will be a sort of alter ego who will have jurisdiction over all the members of our Institute whoever they are, and upon all the communities of the Congregation in America. It is with him that their Lordships the Bishops must deal, respecting the services they desire from the Congregation and the establishments they would wish to be founded in their dioceses, etc…

Letter to Bishop Bourget of Montreal, 7 June 1844, EO I n 37

This “alter ego” was the representative of the Superior General in all administrative matters, but he was also an Oblate who had imbibed the spirit of the charism given to Eugene and would ensure its continuation.

In a word, our Visitor Extraordinary can bring about, according to his jurisdiction in his province, all that the Superior General can bring about in the whole Congregation.

Act constituting Father Guigues as Visitor extraordinary to the Oblates in Canada, 10 June 1844, EO I n 41

… He shall have for the duration of his commission in America all those powers which I exercise in the Congregation with the exception of admission of candidates to oblation, of their expulsion from the Society and of dispensation from the vows of religion, of convoking the Chapter and other faculties not related to the special administration of the Congregation in America.

Letter to Fr Jean Baptiste Honorat, 8 June 1844, EO I n 39

For further details on Father Bruno Guigues see: https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/guigues-bishop-bruno-eugene/

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Yesterday I had the opportunity to listen to Cardinal Czerny SJ speak about the Synodal Process the Church is entering into with not just the bishops, but with the laity. As I listened I could not help but think of the process of how during the General Chapter of a congregation it is the Holy Spirit who is the ultimate authority; and how a Superior General rises from within to carry out the acts of the chapter. The absolute trust that is lived out, that the Holy Spirit will guide and lead and speak through the chapter delegates.

    I was unable to shake the idea that this synod would also demand the same implicit trust within us: that it would be the Holy Spirit who would be the ultimate leader of the synod and who would give voice to all that needed to be said. And that we members who were preparing to take part in this process would have to trust.

    I am reminded of this as I read the words of both Eugene and Frank this morning. The whole idea of Fr. Bruno Guigues as the head of a new Province, what we call the “Provincial” as being the alter ego of the Superior General. The intrinsic trust that was/is required in order for this to be a reality, not just for the rest of the congregation, but also for the Provincial himself. All of us who are in one way or another a part of the province, must implicitly trust that God will speak through the named Provincial be they be man or woman according to their congregation.

    History has shown us that Bishop Guigues OMI was a good bishop and a good provincial, that indeed he was the alter ego of St. Eugene de Mazenod. It is in this light that we are invited to look at our respective Provincials, and how the Spirit speaks and acts through them. And how we are invited to trust that they are the living instruments of the Holy Spirit.

    This raises to the light the whole idea of being an alter Christ. Jesus who had to trust that his death given out of love would have meaning and that he was obeying the will of the Father. Do I dare to say the same about myself?

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