A SECOND CHANCE
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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