The time of enforced rest for Eugene was a time of blessing not only for him but for the future of the Missionaries as well. Being forced to stop and reflect, he was given the opportunity to clarify important issues regarding the spirit and mission of his foundation of Missionaries.

His friend Forbin Janson had founded the Missionaries of France to preach parish missions throughout the country, and was hoping that Eugene and his group would join him. In this letter to him, Eugene shows that the direction of the Missionaries of Provence has now become clear:

… Do not think I have disregarded the proposals you have repeatedly made to me on the subject of uniting our houses. I have, on the contrary, been quite busy taking them up with both our Grand Vicars and our members. The constant attitude of the former is that such a union would not be to the advantage of the diocese. My confreres share this feeling. They are concerned more with evangelizing poor people of the rural areas than city dwellers, and in this I agree with them. The need of the former is incomparably greater and the fruits of our ministry amongst them more assured.
… We are five in all, a number so inadequate for the work we have to do that we will infallibly succumb, myself especially for whom the time that we are not on missions is not a time of rest. Patience! Were I alone to perish…

Letter to Forbin Janson, July-August, 1816, O.W. VI n. 13


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  1. Archbishop Marcello Zago OMI, following Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Missio, #37b (“efforts should be concentrated on the big cities”), urged Oblates to focus on cities rather than rural areas. I hope, Frank that this posting will lead us to remember the needs of rural areas. At least in the USA, fewer and fewer of our city raised Oblates are comfortable in rural areas. Population has shifted, but DeMazenod didn’t seem to use numbers as a measure of success, or did he?

  2. franksantucci says:

    The villages of Provence were the places where the people were the least affected by the structures of the Church, and this is why Eugene insisted that the outreach to the most abandoned be there. The more abandoned persons of the cities were not excluded, however, because the Missionaries of Provence did missions in the poorer quarters of Aix and Marseille in 1820. Some thrity years later Eugene insisted that the Oblates start parishes in the big cities of Manchester and Liverpool, where the poor Irish voctims of the potato famine were in need. I think that Buffalo (NY) also fits into this category.

    As I read it, Eugene’s concern was always for those who were not neing touched by the structures of ministry of the Church, wherever they were. Today the different “worlds” of Redemptoris Missio are very much areas where we find the call of the poor where the Church does not manage to reach people in their abandonment (eg the world of youth, the world of migrants, the world where people are rejected because of who or what they are…. )

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