PLEASE ACCEPT THE EXPRESSION OF MY DEEPEST GRATITUDE FOR THE KINDNESS DONE TO MY DIOCESE IN GRANTING IT A FEW MEMBERS OF YOUR EXCELLENT CONGREGATION

“Go forth and set the world on fire.”  (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

The 63-year old Eugene de Mazenod certainly had his hands full as Bishop of the second-largest city of France and as Superior General of a rapidly expanding missionary congregation in France, the British Isles and Canada. This explains why his writings (and consequently my reflections) constantly cover all these areas by moving from one to the other.

In a letter to the Society of Propagation of the Faith, Eugene described the new Oblate venture in the Quebec Diocese.

His Excellency the bishop of Quebec wrote to me as follows last October 27… “Please accept the expression of my deepest gratitude for the kindness done to my diocese in granting it a few members of your excellent Congregation of the Oblates of Mary. Fr. Honorat left three weeks ago with three of his confreres to open a house of his institute at Grande Baie on the Saguenay river. This site is more or less at the center of the settlements being established on the banks of this large river and within the reach of the various places visited by the Indigenous peoples. The opening of this house will be of great advantage for religion especially if the members can be increased as the needs increase, etc.”

Letter to the President of the Council of the Missionary Society of Propagation of the Faith in Lyon, 6 February 1845, EO V n 91

Norman Séguin explains further:

On 15 October 1844, Honorat arrived in the Saguenay region, accompanied by fathers Augustin Médard Bourassa, Pierre Fiset, and Flavien Durocher. The Oblates’ responsibility was to lay the foundations of an organized church in this forest region, which had been opened to settlement only six years earlier. While his missionaries carried on their ministry among the native peoples of this vast area, Honorat endeavoured to organize the religious life of the new settlers by creating parishes and building churches and schools. (https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/honorat-jean-baptiste/)

An invitation to unite ourselves with our missionaries who respond generously in difficult situations – and to be missionaries ourselves in our immediate surroundings.

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1 Response to PLEASE ACCEPT THE EXPRESSION OF MY DEEPEST GRATITUDE FOR THE KINDNESS DONE TO MY DIOCESE IN GRANTING IT A FEW MEMBERS OF YOUR EXCELLENT CONGREGATION

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    There was a time in my life when I would have read this and would have believed that the words of the title and expressed in the letter were not real or lived; sadly I would think they were no more than ‘window-dressing’. And now I look at how each time we receive a new pastor into our parish; whose his gifts are different from those who went before him, they have each been and are exactly what we needed.

    I think of Eugene himself who in 1835-1836 was spoken to by other members of his community: he needed to let go of certain attitudes and behaviour he was holding onto in order to be able to sign the concordat so that both he and his congregation would be able to do that for which they were founded. It can be humbling (which we sometimes mistake for humiliating although there can be that also). At times it looked like people were looking for excuses and reasons to make Eugene look bad or wrong and they might have done this to try and make themselves more important, or holier… Similar to what Jesus himself experienced with the pharisees and the scribes.

    I make mistakes and do not measure up to my own aspirations and self-expectations. It can be humbling. But eventually, as happened with Honorat I was asked to do other things that might not have been my first choice but looking back on them it was those very directions that I was created to enliven.

    Then and now – the Holy Spirit knows what she is about.

    It is easier for all of us to point the finger at the other and perhaps we need altogether to look at how we dress those pointed fingers. I am reminded of Eugene’s words to his sons as he was dying: “Charity, charity, charity…” It will only be realised with love. It will only be with true and deep love that any of us will be able “to be missionaries ourselves in our immediate surroundings.”

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