I WOULD BE HAPPY IF YOU COULD BECOME A SECOND FATHER TO MY SONS
Once the decision to send Oblate missionaries to Nancy had been made, Eugene wrote to his friend, Alexis Menjaud, who was the Bishop of Nancy.
I would be happy if you could become a second father to my sons … I dare assure you, and I guarantee that you will never regret having adopted them. The spirit I instil into them and which they have perfectly understood, is that they see themselves as the bishop’s men, promising him inviolable submission and affection, making his person and authority respected everywhere and by everyone, never doing anything without his approval, in a word, to be in his regard what children are toward their father.
Letter to Bishop A.B. Menjaud of Nancy, France, 14 June 1847, EO XIII n 110
I dare to assure you that, in the family you are adopting, you are giving yourself not only good workers to cultivate your vineyard, but also devoted sons who by principle attach themselves to their bishop as to their father. They are the born defenders of his interests in regard to everyone and against all, in a word, his right-hand men ready to carry out all his commands, because they know the value of obedience to the one who represents God in the diocese …
Letter to Bishop A.B. Menjaud of Nancy, France, 24 July 1847, EO XIII n 112
In response to this declaration, Bishop Menjaud wrote: “You will not find in France a bishop… better disposed than the bishop of Nancy to support your views for the benefit of religion and the spread of the faith in foreign countries. Your sons will be my sons and they will find in my heart something of the tenderness that is found in your heart…”
Eugene’s flowery words to the bishop shows his understanding of the important role that the bishop of a diocese has for the Oblates who are working under his jurisdiction. In a more sober reality, all this was true as long as the local bishop recognized the specific spirituality and mission of the Oblates. We will see several examples in the future of Eugene removing the Oblates from a diocese when the bishop did not respect our charism.
What Viktor Frankl says about individual mission, applies equally to the mission of a group like the Mazenodian Family: “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” (Viktor E. Frankl)
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