Not all the candidates who came forward to join the Missionary Oblates were suitable. 21 year-old scholastic brother Fortuné Chavard’s attitude and behavior had led Eugene and his council to the decision to expel him. Writing to Fr Vincens, the Novice Master, Eugene said:

This letter, dear Father Vincens, will be brought to you by Brother Chavard. I am sending him to spend six months at the novitiate where I intend him to follow all exercises punctually. It is a favor I am granting him from which I hope he will profit. That is also his hope and resolve.

The poor Brother was overwhelmed by the news [Ed. of his imminent expulsion]. He had never expected such a severe punishment which he reasonably foresaw as a prelude to his ruin. I had not yet given the final sentence, but I was resisting all of his pleadings to have the council reconsider.

He then spoke to Fathers Aubert and Semeria who had been part of the council and persuaded them of his repentance. They then spoke to me in his favor. Father Tempier went over to their side; I therefore consented to modify with them the decision taken, and instead of sending him away definitely, he will spend six months at the novitiate to be renewed in the duties of his vocation. You will follow him with the greatest attention and you will give me an account of his progress. If you are satisfied with him, he will be reinstated after six months and we will return to him the crucifix which has been taken away from him.

Letter to Fr Ambroise Vincens, 19 October 1847, EO X n 949

In his Diary, Eugene wrote

I once again saw Bro. Chavard. I conversed with him about the situation in which he had been placed and I accorded him commutation of the sentence carried out against him. An endeavor will be made to see if six months of Novitiate will give him the spirit of the Congregation, which is eminently the religious spirit which he is far from possessing.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 17 October 1847, EO XXI


The time of prayer and reflection for Chavard worked, and he then completed his studies and was ordained to the priesthood two years later.

“It’s so different when you get a second chance to come back out and do your thing – you’re more humble, you appreciate it more, you know what not to do this second time around.” (Da Brat)

How many “second chances” does God give us throughout our lives? We do not have enough fingers to count them.

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1 Response to A SECOND CHANCE

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I can’t help but think of the ‘7 times 77’ opportunities and grace of forgiveness that God lavishes upon all of us – when we are able ‘to let go and let God. The very large ones that stand out as well as the small ones that allow us to breathe in and breathe out. The love and forgiveness lavished upon us is I dare to state, endless and ever growing.

    Sometimes it takes something larger than life to help us to remain true and to focus clearly on what is or is not important. It then that God ‘sends in the troops to help us to walk-with rather than trying to do it all on our own. Just as Eugene and the early Oblates in their time helped Fortuné Chavard who was able to continue on with the Congregation, allowing himself to be filled with humility and the desire to change.

    We are never so good or great that we are able to make it on our own. We must work each day to rekindle the humility that is so necessary for ongoing forgiveness in our lives: not because God stops loving us, but rather because if there is no humility then we will be unable to see what is being offered to us and so push it away.

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