Bishop Horace Bettachini, Coadjutor of the Vicar Apostolic of Colombo, came to Europe in 1845 to seek missionary help. He obtained no more than one member of the Congregation of the Oratory, and one Sylvestrine Benedictine. In vain he travelled throughout the rest of Europe, pleading everywhere. Every door was closed to him. In his distress he met Bishop Berteaud of Tulle, who said to him: “Go to Marseilles. There is a Bishop there whose Congregation is still small, but who has a heart as large as Saint Paul’s, as large as the world. Go and make it clear to him that it is a matter of saving those poor, poor souls — insist on that point. When he hears that, he will be unable to resist.”  (Yvon Beaudoin in EO IV page XXIII)

Bishop de Mazenod responded enthusiastically to this request.

What a mission field is opening up before us!

Letter to Father Ambroise Vincens, 12 August 1847, EO X n 936


“But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans 10:14-15.

“Thus I make it my ambition to proclaim the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.”

Paul’s Letter to the Romans 15:20

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    As I read Eugene’s words to Father Vincens, I can almost hear the joy and gratitude that must surely be evident to those around him – at being asked by the Coadjutor of the Vicar Apostolic of Colombo to send him some missionaries. Did Eugene know that he had been described as having a small Congregation but also whose heart was as large as St. Paul’s, indeed as large as the world.?

    I am reminded of my time when I first met St. Eugene de Mazenod and how I thought immediately of how much he was like St. Paul: the same St. Paul who I identified with in some ways.

    How have we been led out of the very doors of a hell of our own making, into the light only to hear of a God who loves us and embraces us? Do we try love all, even those whom we have never met, those who have a bad reputation, similar to what we might have acted out only to be drawn into that eternal embrace of the Beloved…

    I am reminded of a small prayer that I used to pray every day to God: “Lord, make me litte, hidden and ordinary… a light to my neighbour’s feet.” And I think of the Mazenodian motto of “We are sent to bring Good New’s to the poor: the poor are evangelized.” A response to God’s call which we try to live as members of the Mazenodian/Oblate Family…

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