Leflon writes, ‘‘There can be no doubt that once again, and with very sure insight, Bishop de Mazenod had looked far beyond the feasibility of the present to envision the realizations of the future. It does not seem so certain, however, that he had a clear appreciation of the odd and complicated situation which existed in what the first Oblate superior would soon call a ‘strange country’ and which would discourage his sons as well as himself…” (Volume 4 p 167)

In view of the expected difficulties, Fr. Semeria was chosen as the superior of the four Oblates destined for Ceylon. He was the highly-respected rector of the major seminary in Ajaccio, and his departure was a blow to the Bishop. Eugene wrote to him to justify his choice:

“It is an infinitely difficult mission for several reasons, and I needed a proven man like Fr. Semeria to entrust it to for my own peace of mind. This is the sacrifice that God has asked of us, and I had to make it with joy in firm confidence regarding the great good that will result from it; the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda calls the help that it has asked from us “opportunissimo et necessario”. I have every reason to think that Fr. Rolleri, who will replace him at Vico, will do good work.

Letter to Bishop Casanelli d’lstria of Ajaccio, 7 October 1847, EO IV page XXIV


“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” (C.T. Studd)

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Lay Oblate says:

    I could not resist the temptation to look up Leflon’s actual description of the state of affairs in what we now call Sri Lanka, but which in Eugene’s time was called Ceylon. I found myself reflecting on how I too might have tried to shed my own light (rather that God’s Light) on those I was hoping to convert to my way of thinking. I being every bit as human as was Bishop Bettachini, the coadjutor of the Apostolic Vicar of Ceylon who described Ceylon using language that he thought might help his request for missionaries.

    I have noticed it in some others, but only now do I realise that I too have selected my words so as to make them more convincing to others. In this light of the immensity of God’s love for me I am in need of forgiveness; that no sacrifice needs ever to be gilded… I will not beat myself up about it, but rather I ask for ongoing forgiveness and continue to walk in the light of God rather than my own.

    There is no value in trying to impress others of my love or the brightness of the light that I walk in – so as to make myself and those I represent as being better, more holy, more loving…

    Fidelity begets unwavering truth, love and light.

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