Charles Joseph Eugene de Mazenod
by divine mercy and favour of the Apostolic See
Bishop of Marseilles,
Commander of the Holy Religious and Military Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus,
Superior General
of the Congregation of Oblates of the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary,
to our beloved Brother in Christ Étienne Semeria
Priest of the same Congregation,

Greetings and blessings in the Lord

Monsignor Bettachini, coadjutor of the Vicar Apostolic in the island of Ceylon, having most earnestly asked us to assign some of our missionaries to him as travelling companions and associates in his work. We, to whom is entrusted the government of the whole Congregation, considering less our shortage of subjects than the will of God, the members of our Congregation being called to work in this part of the vineyard of the Father of Family, have decided to send evangelical laborers to work there. Under the jurisdiction of the Most Reverend Coadjutor, these laborers will therefore work diligently, for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, to stimulate the piety of Catholics, to restore the faith among heretics, and above all to rescue unfortunate infidels from the darkness and shadow of death.

Granted the great distance that will separate us and the great difficulties that could result from it, we have chosen from among the members of our Congregation and appointed with extraordinary faculties as head of this great undertaking and guide of this excellent mission, the said Étienne Semeria, a man matured by prudence and many years as an Oblate, notable for his zeal and piety, and unshakeable in his attachment to Ourself and the Family.

The document continues with a listing of the administrative powers given to him in this new Oblate mission, where he was to be the Founder’s “alter-ego.” He concludes

Now go forward, beloved Son, to the work that is entrusted to you together with those whom we have chosen to be your companions in those distant parts of Asia, for the greater glory of God, which we must further there and everywhere.

May the Most Holy and Immaculate Virgin Mary, our loving Mother, keep you always under her protection. May the angels of God assist you. And as for Us, beloved son in Christ, we will not cease to implore for you an abundant outpouring of divine grace from heaven.

Given at Marseilles… October 21, 1847.

+ C. J. Eugene, Bishop of Marseilles, Superior General.

Father Semeria received his obedience and then embarked on a 37-day voyage, where he reached Ceylon in the company of Fathers Louis Marie Keating from Ireland, Joseph Alexandre Ciamin from Nice and Brother Gaspard De Stefanis from Genoa.

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, lay oblate says:

    I cannot help but think of the depth of prayers as Eugene and his council deliberated on who to send to Ceylon: for they would have to include one who was ‘seasoned’ enough so as to ‘walk with’ the younger missionaries, sharing a particular light as prescribed in their Rule of Life and under the protection of Mary Immaculate. Far from France, they would face particular challenges just as did those who were interceded to God for them and that they were under her protection. They would be far from France and would be faced with challenges just as were the first Oblate Missionaries who were sent to North America. They were sent primarily for the’ greater glory of God’ and that was to become foundational within each of them; their true adventure of life.

    Is this not how we Lay Oblate Associates have been called to come together as members of the Oblate/Mazenodian Family? Is not how we personally and communally share in the Charism of St. Eugene de Mazenod? Rule 37a highlights this: “The charism of Saint Eugene de Mazenod is a gift of the Spirit to the Church, and it radiates throughout the world…” We do this according to our culture milieu; in a spirit of communion and reciprocity with each other and with the Oblates. We each have a particular role to play according to our state of life. We accomplish this through loving service to God’s call, the Church and all those we meet along the way, especially those who are the most abandoned, without voice, excluded and on the furthest edges of our society. We begin to see through the eyes of our crucified Saviour.

    Every 6 years Eugene’s light enlightens us and gives a new backdrop on the stage of our lives. Currently we walk and work together as “pilgrims of hope in communion”…

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