Father Hippolyte Courtès had been a member of Eugene’s youth group and was one of the first novices to join the Missionaries in 1817. He was afflicted by poor health and became depressed at times, but was an example of patient endurance and perseverance in his service. This quiet man was to remain a friend and respected confidant for the whole of Eugene’s life.

We can thus understand Eugene’s concern over Hippolyte’s wellbeing when he fell ill in May 1847.

A thousand times, thank you, and I bless you, my dear son, for having had the happy thought of giving me news of yourself. Good Father Martin had very well fulfilled this duty during your short but very violent illness. He kept me informed day by day. I cannot tell you with what tender interest he spoke about you. I really needed that to moderate the pain against which I found no defense, in spite of everything he told me to reassure me. I bless the Lord for your prompt recovery; I am sure that you felt that we invoked Him in these circumstances. I was full of confidence, but when the heart is troubled, it is alarmed.

Letter to Fr Hippolyte Courtès in Aix en Provence, 13 May 1847, EO X n 929


“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.” (Henri Nouwen)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I always find myself amazed at Eugene’s capacity to love, with God being ever at the center of all life and death. It is both a joy and a consolation for all us living in ever-changing times which affect not only ourselves in our Oblate Mazenodian Families, but all of creation.

    We pray and ask Eugene for his intercession with God, as we begin to look forward at a change in our journey together. We will not be abandoned but we may need more courage, trust and humility as we allow the Spirit to walk with us as we stumble over seemingly larger and sharper rocks on our path.

    For a moment I think of Jesus’s stumbling under the weight of the cross he carried on the road to Calvary. And I think of Eugene’s struggles and stumbles throughout his lifetime, always looking ahead and seeing through the eyes of our crucified Saviour.

    I find myself dwelling on Eugene’s words: “I bless the Lord for…” it is for me a new way of looking at how I want to become more deeply involved… and how I find myself wanting to “bless you Lord…” for how you have led each of us in our journeys through life. We may be asked to wear a different mantle, but still we pray that we will all be able to bear the cross you have given us as pilgrims in hope of communion.

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