EUGENE’S  YOUTH MINISTRY SHAPED BY MARY AS MODEL OF FAITH

“Mother Mary, the Theotokos (‘God-bearer’), ushers in a time of justice and an ordered social advocacy. She proclaims that God is on the side of the oppressed, the disenfranchised, and the hungry, the poor and the broken-hearted. She reveals the promise of the mercy of God.” (Valerie D. Lewis-Mosley)

After his ordination to the priesthood, Father Eugene returned to Aix and dedicated his ministry to bringing the most abandoned to relationship with Jesus the Savior. His key mission was to the youth of Aix. Some 300 High School and University students participated as committed members in his youth congregation. Eugene trained them to be “yeast” in their society, to be aware and reach out to those who were poor, suffering and in need (cf Luke 2:46-55): to bring them to know Jesus Christ the Savior. Mary figured prominently in their lives and mission.

Fr. Lubowicki shows how the early ministry of the young priest with the youth was conscious of the presence of Mary:

Statue in the Madeleine Church, where the youth prayed for Eugene’s recovery

On April 25, 1813, Eugene founded the Association for Christian Youth, sixteen months after his ordination. The rules and statutes that he wrote are filled with Marian thinking.

 From the very first lines, it is stated that the society in question is one “established under the intercession of the Immaculate Conception of the most Holy Virgin”.

Eugene got his young people in the habit of seeing in Mary the Mother of Jesus and “ours as well”, a mother filled with tenderness, who in virtue of this title desires “to cooperate in [our] salvation”.

In the Association, “public declaration was made to honor and love” Mary with “unbounded filial tenderness”. There is a clear idea of what love is: the trust that leads to a total surrender of oneself into the hands of the person who is loved. That is why it states that the association members “openly declare the most complete devotion [to Mary]”.

The highest point in this devotion to Mary is reached in the recommendation to “consecrate oneself […] to the Most Holy Trinity [..] through the intercession of the Mary Immaculate, the most holy Virgin”. For Eugene, consecrating oneself “to the Most Holy Trinity” is the most basic way of following Mary, totally dedicated to the Trinity and available for the plan of salvation.

On the other hand, consecrating oneself “through the intercession [of Mary]” is the fullest expression of our trust in her because this attitude is born of the certainty that the Holy Virgin will not keep us to herself, but will offer us to God! (Corinthians 3:21b-23).

C. Lubowicki, “Mary” in the Dictionary of Oblate Values, http://www.omiworld.org/dictionary.asp?v=9&ID=1056&let=M&pag=4

These young men were not future priests – they were laymen preparing themselves for secular careers. Does their level of commitment inspire us to re-examine our own?

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1 Response to EUGENE’S  YOUTH MINISTRY SHAPED BY MARY AS MODEL OF FAITH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    This morning Eugene inspires me to think in a less linear way: to hear fully what is being shared with us. It is not a matter of who he was doing this with, but rather how he was expressing himself.

    And – my openness to him and where I am being led…

    I recognize how I have tried to slot God into nice, neat and tidy little cubby-holes and then look only at what is ‘not’ rather than a wider and all-encompassing what is.

    I keep returning to Eugene’s words: “The highest point in this devotion to Mary is reached in the recommendation to “consecrate oneself […] to the Most Holy Trinity [..] through the intercession of the Mary Immaculate, the most holy Virgin”. For Eugene, consecrating oneself “to the Most Holy Trinity” is the most basic way of following Mary, totally dedicated to the Trinity and available for the plan of salvation.” I am hearing this a newer way, with a heart that is somehow more open and it is not something I wish to simply gloss over but rather take it in and somehow allow it to become a living part of myself. Eugene is expressing something that I have not until now been able to hear, really hear.

    At the moment all I seem capable of is figuratively kneeling before God and humbly asking him to forgive me of my inattentiveness and to ask Mary, once again to take my hand and walk with me

    When I entered this space I began by looking out at the skies that seem predominantly grey and laden with heavy clouds. And now as I stop and look there are wisps of clouds and the morning mist along the river is beginning to dissolve.

    Another new day has begun with Eugene, with Mary and the Beloved.

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