Past Issues - 1 - 2012/1
St. Eugene and the transmission of a missionary faith

In March 2011, a symposium, bringing together Oblates, associates, colleagues and partners in mission along with a good numbers of local people, was organized by the International de Mazenod Cen­ter, for an exchange and sharing around the theme of Saint Eugene de Mazenod and the transmission of faith. This was the first event orga­nized by the Center as part of the 150th anniversary of the death of the founder. In fact, this get-together was made possible thanks to the par­ticipation of the dioceses of Aix and Marseilles, and of the Oblates of France and elsewhere. The theme of the “transmission of faith” echoes the concerns and the direction of the church of France, while also being an integral aspect of ecclesial projects and missionary challenges of dif­ferent local churches as well as in all of the regions where the Congre­gation and Oblates carry out their mission. Thus, it is perfectly legiti­mate to consider this issue as rooted in the heart of the Oblate charism, as was bequeathed to us by Saint Eugene. What he has to say in the very Preface of our Constitutions and Rules bears eloquent testimony to this:

Faced with such a deplorable situation, the Church earnestly appeals to the ministers whom she herself enrolled in the cause of her divine Spouse, to do all in their power, by word and example, to rekindle the flame of faith that has all but died in the hearts of so many of her children. Alas, few heed their Mother’s urgent plea. (…)
How vast the field that lies before them! How worthy and holy the undertaking! The people are caught up in crass ignorance of all that pertains to their salvation. The consequence of their ignorance has been a weakening of the faith and a corruption of morals with all the licence which that inevitably entails. Thus, it is supremely important, it is urgently imperative, that we lead the multitude of lost sheep back to the fold, that we teach these degenerate Christians who Jesus Christ is…[1]

The transmission of the faith was therefore at the heart of the Oblate charism from the beginning of the Congregation. The awakening of faith, its transmission, its development and power to transform individuals, communities and societies continue to be elements of the mission that cross cultural boundaries and transcend historical particularities. Of course, times have changed; and the conditions for transmitting are quite different.
Yet the missionary practice and wisdom of our founder can still make a contribution to our own way of living our mission. The purpose of this essay therefore is to study the practice of the transmission of faith, as experienced by Saint Eugene with the Oblates of North America. To do this, we limit ourselves to browsing through his correspondence with his interlocutors in the same continent. We are aware that his thinking is wider and the texts are much more diverse. However, correspondence with the Oblates of America is of particular interest: it directly involves the proclamation of the faith, its transmission, its revitalization and its implications.

The founder and the Oblates of America

In his correspondence with the Oblates of America, Eugene de Mazenod transmits his faith and his spirituality, his missionary vision. Nowhere does the founder elaborate a treatise on the transmission of faith. He does not dwell on the content of Christian faith as, taking into account the circumstance of his time, he assumes that his colleagues are well trained in this field. He also makes little reference to methods of transmission, as such, even though occasionally he does provide guidance and highlights successes experienced by colleagues. Moreover, as to method, his option is clear: preaching and missions are a clear pre ference. He takes up a deep conviction expressed by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians: “faith comes from hearing”. Eugene expresses his faith rather through what he communicates to his colleagues, in his attitudes and in the questions he asks, in the decisions he makes, and sometimes in the positions he takes when circumstances so require. We can go further and argue that the faith shown by Eugene in his correspondence is that of a missionary, that is to say, that of a man who lives his life as a response to the call of a God that not only engages and involves people in his plan of salvation but invites them to collaborate with him in the story being written. In short, Eugene believes that God is at work and that, in all humility and boldness, we are called to participate in the mission of Christ who wishes to save all humanity.
So it is at the very heart of the very concrete exercise of his responsibility as Superior General and founder of the Oblate Congregation that Eugene expresses, renews, shares and confesses his faith in God, in His providence, in His goodness in His generosity. He demonstrates his faith through the challenges to raise, issues to resolve, calls addressed to him. He communicates and transmits his vision of faith, expressed through the audacity and through serious consideration of the possibilities and limits to missionary expansion. His faith is manifested in the very core of the story written in America.
To account for the nature of the faith transmitted by Eugene and to come to the point of qualifying it as “missionary” faith we re-read his correspondence with, of course, our own sensitivities. In fact, the theology of mission has developed considerably in the last decades. The Vatican II decree on missionary activity in the Church and in the world illustrates progress and new articulations. The proposed re-reading integrates new perspectives in such a way that it is possible, with a certain audacity and avoiding as much as possible betraying the founder, to push further his thinking and to generate with greater amplitude the perspectives he proposes. It is up to each to judge and especially to dialogue around the proposals presented.

The missionary faith of Saint Eugene

The source of the religious experience of Eugene was first the encounter with Christ crucified, with the living Christ, he who has given his life for the world, he who has revealed God as Father of all human beings. The encounter with the living Christ became, effectively, the place of a new birth, the place of the emergence of his veritable dignity as a well-loved child of God, as a graced being, pardoned and renewed. This experience overturned his life and thus became the event that triggered and not only gave sense to his own life but became his mission: cooperate with Christ so that each person could live that same experience and carry out his/her existence in the light of this revelation. We never come out of a deep encounter with Christ unscathed. Such then was, to a certain point, the source of Eugene’s missionary faith: the experience and then the belief that springs from it that God has so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, who makes every effort to ensure that everyone comes to the knowledge of this truth by personally living the experience of being loved, chosen and sent by God to share in his life, in his mission and in his plan of unity.
Eugene therefore believes in a God who speaks in his Son, who died and rose again, at work in history. Today as yesterday, Christ reveals and manifests himself in the world, through others, their entreaties, their needs, their hopes. For Eugene, Christ is working to save the world and he is forever calling men and women to take part in his mission. Therefore, the call of Christ can be heard in a special manner precisely in the needs of salvation of the world. That is where Christ beckons and mobilizes his disciples to participate in his work of salvation.

The call

So, Eugene is attentive to the calls he receives generally through his milieu and more particularly in the exercise of his responsibilities. One day he receives visit from the Bishop of Montreal, Bishop Bourget, who outlines for him the urgent needs of his local Church. A friendship is born spontaneously at this first encounter: links are quickly forged between the two men, two apostles who seem to share the same passion for Christ and a similar deep concern which unites them: the urgency to proclaim the gospel to men and women who seem to be ignorant of it or to be indifferent to it. Eugene is affected by the comments and needs expressed about Canada, he takes seriously what he perceives as a call. He hears and listens to Bishop Bourget asking him for missionaries. A missionary faith, if we are to believe the experience of Eugene, occurs as a result of taking seriously what others live and the impact of their experience on our own interior. Shall we go so far as to say that the missionary hears the cries out there and these become as interior calls in his own person?
And this process of welcome, of listening and of reception continues in the convening of brothers. For Eugene, missionary faith mobilizes the community. It is in Church that we respond to calls. As a member and superior of a religious family, he calls on his colleagues to discern with them the authenticity of the call and to check the capacity of their responses. Together, they choose and decide to answer the call. This practice will be constant in Eugene: the missionary consults and discerns within the Church. It is with others that we live our faith, that we discern God’s actions in events and that we respond to calls that it allows us to hear. The mission is broader than individuals: regardless of their responsibilities, the missionaries are part of a body, and it is as members of this apostolic body that they hear the calls and meet the needs of salvation that are manifested. The missionary faith of Eugene is a community faith, shared and “concerted” in small as well as great affairs of the Kingdom.

The response

With his brothers, Eugene responds to calls to and from the heart of poverty and the modest resources available. Responding to calls is not necessarily justified by a surplus of staff or by an abundance of resources. Rather, as the widow in the Gospel, it is not simply a matter of giving of the superfluous but much more at times foregoing some of what is necessary.

Certainly we must be enterprising when we are called to the conquest of souls. I was prancing at the thought of finding myself at 200 leagues from you and of being unable to have you hear my voice but two months hence. Yet your letter of February 2 reached me today, March 1. God grant that you have finally received mine, that not only approved of this project, but applauded with burst of joy! This is not something to merely attempt. We had to go with a firm determination to overcome all obstacles, to remain, to settle there! Why hesitate? What better mission! Relief to logging camps, missions to the Indians, setting up in a city of the future. But it is beautiful ideal come true, and you have let it slip away! But the thought makes me shudder! Take up your courage and set the place up according to law. Recommend to each one to do his duty. Only in this way do we draw onto ourselves the blessings of God…[2]

What is often at stake in fact, in the answer, is the gamble of faith that translates into boldness, in the “risk all” for the Kingdom, a little like the one who found a pearl hidden in a field. He sells all in order to buy this field. As calls are received in faith, the answer cannot be lived without this act of faith which rests, precisely, on the generosity of God who never allows himself to be conquered. He writes to Father Ricard, in Oregon in December of 1853:

But of what is father Blanchet thinking? How is it that the sight of so many and so pressing problems does not give a bit of energy to his soul? Suffice it to will it, with the grace of God we would overcome even greater obstacles, and do we not see it daily in our ministry? What a pity that such a sweet child that I love so dearly and for the sanctification of which I would give my blood, squats and does not want to walk. I cannot get used to the idea, it seems to me it is impossible that a man, such a good religious, so full of good qualities and true virtues, does not say once and for all: I want to; it is not the grace of God that will fail me.[3]

It should be noted that the faith of Eugene in Providence, in this God, active and generous with humans and fully engaged in history, leads him on the one hand to take bold, courageous decisions and realize daring initiatives. On the other hand, he is not, for all of that, reckless or naïve: he is indeed an excellent administrator who carefully handles financial issues and the economic consequences for the Oblate communities in Canada. His letters reflect the qualities of a vigilant and prudent manager, provident, and involved in every detail of the financial viability of business conducted by his colleagues.

The active concern for his brothers and their missionary experience

The missionary faith of St. Eugene reflects the God in whom he believes, that of Christ who is constantly evangelizing the poor. It necessarily affects his way of being in relationships and conversations with his brothers in the various mission fields. On reading his correspondence, the first feature that emerges is without a doubt his great interest and strongly reiterated desire to know more about what they live and achieve. Nothing must be hidden from him or he might well denounce quite vigorously the parsimonious communication of their experiences. Three observations are worthy of sharing in this regard. In so doing, he intersects and participates in the pedagogy of Christ, in the way we are given access to by the evangelists: Jesus repeatedly asks his disciples the question: “What were you talking about?” (Lk 24:15). Second, this interest also reveals the leader that is Eugene in the exercise of his responsibility as Superior General. The leader is one who asks and shares the question with the others: “What is happening at this time? What is being lived in the milieu for which I am responsible? Far from presuming that he is aware of or knows what is going on, he seeks to know by keeping in touch with what others are living and doing. Finally, Eugene witnesses to a God who cares for people in every detail of their lives because the God in which he believes; is the one proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth: “Even the hairs of your head are numbered.” (Lk 12:7)
To Bishop Phelan, he writes:

I take a keen interest in your dear mission of Bytown. I follow your progress with anxiety. The challenges do not frighten me because I am accustomed to meet them in all the works that have as their aim the glory of God and the salvation of souls. (…) Let us not distrust the goodness of God: it will not fail to provide us with relief commensurate with the needs He knows we have but his providence is not always as fast as our wishes, our desires are always a little ahead of the advance of the divine providence. …”[4]

To Father Maisonneuve, he writes on March 1, 1855, renewing his desire to be well informed in order to live communion and remain in solidarity:

“Write to me from time to time, or rather, take advantage of every opportunity to write to me. You feel that I cannot remain indifferent to the good you do. (…) If you know how often it happens that I talk of you and your colleagues, and always with a sense of admiration for your dedication and compassion for the hardships and suffering hat you endure. Your mission is the one that touches my heart the most, precisely because of the difficulty of your works.”[5]

Obviously, this constant interest in the life and missionary experience of his brothers and the socio-cultural situations in which they realize their mission is in no way the result of a morbid curiosity and not more so of a desire to control everything. Far from it, and to the contrary, Eugene, by participating in the attitudes of a God who cares about the experiences of individuals and communities, takes seriously the theological assumption that became even clearer in the twentieth century: in terms of faith and transmission taking into account the experience of others is not just a simple pedagogical tactic or even a pure preliminary to the proclamation of the gospel. The experience of the other is a theological «locus». The story of the other and the experiences of communities are the theatre of the presence and action of God. Interest in the other constitutes a missionary action which opens to contemplation of the presence and the action of God in their lives, in their history.
This contemplation is born of a regard of faith and will ultimately culminate in confession of faith. The recognition of the action of God is a question of the believer’s interpretation and thus falls under the proposition. Nothing is obligatory and no reading is binding. That is the attitude of Eugene in a letter he wrote to Fr. Ricard on May 12, 1853, regarding the proposal of a possible establishment of the Oblates in California:

It is unfortunate that your health has prevented you from taking this initiative yourself. Maybe the good Lord has allowed this delay to allow us time to reinforce our numbers; it takes so long to form some![6]

Eugene proposes a vision, a believer’s interpretation of events. He suggests a missionary reinterpretation of what is happening in this milieu: “maybe the good Lord has allowed…” The believer’s reading is a proposal, not an imposition at all. The proposal also shows that we need each other to discern God’s presence and to decipher his action. This is the ecclesial dimension of any theological reading, of all believers’ interpretation, of all missionary discernment, of all reading of the sign of the times.

Dialogue as a missionary practice

The transmission of faith is a catechetical activity. This is based on a triple movement, as the General Directory for Catechesis reminds us: tradition, receptio and redditio. In other words, transmission, reception and response. These are, in fact, the three moments of dialogue. Eugene, in his correspondence, practices these three movements generously. If he faithfully receives their story, and listens carefully to their experience, it is then to respond to what they experience from his own responsibility as Superior General. It is there a question of an exchange between collaborators in the mission. But there is more. He wants to be part of decisions that are taken and of choices that must necessarily be made. Within the framework and the limits of his own responsibility, he nevertheless wishes to be co-responsible for the mission.
In exercising this responsibility, as father and founder of this missionary body, he assumes his authority without qualms or arrogance. In faith, he always wants to be at the service of the authority of God’s glory and the good of the Church, the good of the family and of the poor. In fact, Eugene’s missionary faith manifests itself in the confidence he has in his own mission, he believes in his mission, in the call he has himself received from God as founder and father of this family. He fully intends to exercise his mission, to fulfill it with generosity and responsibility.
In fact, he exercises his own authority in a way that promotes the emergence of the authority of his brothers, so that they become more real and authentic religious missionaries. He believes in the mission of his brothers, over which he watches and which he sometimes corrects. In fact, he invites them to share their authority in a spirit of communion, so that the mission can be carried out by the entire community. On January 10, 1843, he writes to Father Honorat with a frankness marked with the will to educate:

In heaven’s name, correct yourself, and stop taking on by yourself a responsibility that must necessarily be shared by the others, not even to act without my approval, but even to propose. Thus, it is by demonstrating confidence, by showing deference to others, by knowing how to change one’s own ideas to adopt those of the others that one attracts their sympathy, their support and affection. I tell you this, not to cause you grief, but only for your own good. Who is it that will tell you the truth, if not me? Why do you not follow the rule as respects your council? Why do you rule with independence? Would you not have better success if you were gentler in your relationships with all?[7]

He encourages boldness and expansion, generosity and creativity. He willingly shares his beliefs, dreams and aspirations.
Two convictions emerge recurrently in his dialogue with his brothers about missionary life. The first concerns the fundamental importance of the quality of religious life for the fruitfulness of the mission. The quality of the evangelical witness gives authenticity and ensures the credibility of the message that you bring to the different milieu in which we evolve. The Oblates, in his view, are witnesses of the salvation brought by Christ, through the quality of their evangelical life. The first missionary gesture par excellence is precisely for one to take the gospel seriously. No doubt is possible in this regard: to proclaim the gospel is to live it, and to live it with one’s brothers. The founder is deeply convinced of this fact rooted in the Gospel itself: “It is because of the love you have for one another that the world will believe that you are my disciples.” (Jn 13:35).
The second conviction is a corollary of the first: in season and out, Eugene exhorts his brethren to brotherly communion and unity for the good of the mission, for the glory of God, for the credibility of their testimony. Collaboration, cooperation and unity are not optional extras. They are the very conditions of missionary life, because it is always the mystery of the Church that is at play in all that we live. Certainly, there are a variety of activities, charism, functions, and a multitude of needs but there is only one Body, the Body of the Christ. On this subject, he is intractable and constant.

The more we are in the situation of extending the work of God, the more will I recommend unity, charity, the most perfect regularity. It is time we understand the duties of obedience and that we should learn to respect authority. Cursed are the whisperers, the murmuress described in the Holy Scriptures. (…) If vocations have not increased, attribute it only to this. I am surprised that even one of those who had first presented themselves has persevered. I look upon it as miraculous, but we will long live with the results of the bad air they breathed. It is not only the superior that must be respected. We must also respect each other, and never allow any adverse comments about anyone …[8]

The mission is carried out, then, in community and as members of an apostolic body. He frequently denounces behaviours and attitudes that divide. The act of writing is directly to the service of the unity of the apostolic body: his letters contribute to the unity and flow of information. But they serve equally to denounce sins against unity and harmony.
Saint Eugene does not hesitate to share his concerns, as well as their own worries. He often acts as mediator in conflicts and misunderstandings, disputes and cold shoulders between the Oblate and other Church stakeholders. There is a whole literature on the difficulties between the Bishop of Ottawa, Bishop Guigues and the provincial as well as colleagues in the local church in Bytown. He seeks to do the truth, to act as conciliator and does not hesitate to express opinions and make decisions that concern both the Bishop and his brothers.
With a certain authority, he determines what Bishop Guigues must do:

I believe that we must resolve this situation by some means of reconciliation and thus is the sentiment of all the members of my council. This is the point at which we will have to stop: if you have not yet been able to raise the 1600L for the Oblates to keep in reserve or if you have used the amount for the purchase of building materials of which you speak, you will immediately make certain to get the money either by borrowing or otherwise. I hope you will not experience too much difficulty in doing this. Once the money is at your disposal, you will put it into the hands of the provincial procurator with a signed agreement in writing, signed by him and Father Santoni, to pay a similar sum half at the end of 1858 and the other half at the end of 1860, to be assigned to the establishment of the Oblates of Bytown in the manner to be agreed to between us at a later time. If we could, we would rather save you the embarrassment of this arrangement by granting you the money you must borrow, but the huge costs facing the Congregation in France and the great expense required for the construction of our main house at Mount Olivet, do not allow us to do anything for institutions in other provinces. I console myself by thinking that this act of good will on your part will produce a happy effect on our fathers and help break down some prejudices to which I referred earlier …[9]

What motivates and inspires him in his decisions is the good of the Congregation as well as the legitimate interest of the Oblates of Canada.
Eugene encourages and promotes two missionary virtues he considers essential: availability and obedience. In his eyes, these are fundamental and he therefore constantly insists on them. They call to each other and are essential both for religious life and for the mission. To Father Santoni, who wants to present his resignation as Provincial to the founder, the latter replies forcefully:

You dare to give as your reason the lack of agreement with me… Read our Holy Rules on obedience… There is no question of agreement… this alleged agreement admissible in respect to any superior. What will it be when it comes to the Superior General? ... Had you the transcendent wisdom that we must assume you believe you have to ask yourself, as you do, as a figure in opposition, unable to get along with your legitimate superior, you are lacking something essential, which is the grace of office. To conclude, in religion, there is not a question of understanding, we know only obedience … Therefore I command you in virtue of holy obedience to continue to serve the congregation in this capacity of provincial.[10]

Time and again, Eugene insists on this virtue in his correspondence with the Oblates in America.
Finally, dialogue, for the founder, is obviously larger than the realm of the Oblate family: among its stakeholders in America, there are many bishops with whom he works closely and invites his brothers to do the same: He likes to repeat that the Oblates are “men of the bishops”.

I am told repeatedly that it has been recommended to the Bishops that they have more friendly relationships with the corporations who help them in their ministry, but I am also asked to recommend to our missionaries to take advantage of the current goodwill of the Bishops to back them, as the good of the mission depends on the perfect accord between the Bishops and the missionaries. That is what I do through this letter. So, be gentle, and always have the greatest respect when due to necessity you relate to the bishop, which does not mean that you give up your legitimate rights. And abstain from commenting what you feel is appropriate for the good of the mission and the convenience of your position.[11]

We see clearly in the founder’s practice that dialogue demands honesty, openness and integrity on the part of all those involved. After all, it is the good of the mission that must be taken into account. Dialogue between those involved in the mission is carried out taking into account the greater interest of the mission, the evangelization of the poor.

An apostolic prayer

A missionary faith is not only expressed in communication with other actors in the mission but is also rooted in prayer both as source and as resource, as the way to sustain faith and discern the will of God. The mission consists in cooperating with Christ the Saviour: it is thus essential to maintain a dialogue with God and to concretely live in communion with the mystery of God revealed and manifested in Christ.
At the heart of every situation, Eugene constantly turns to God. He gives thanks and praise to the Lord of the harvest for the successes and achievements of his sons. In time of trials and difficulties, he intercedes with and begs God. He invites all to call on the Spirit when making decisions. He recognizes God’s providence at work in events. In the challenges that come up, he seeks God’s will with his brothers. He implores the mercy of God in his desolation, given the bad news he sometimes receives from his brothers in America. His prayer is missionary and contemplative, meditative and silent, liturgical and ecclesial. It is still very involved, contextual and circumstantial. It is steeped in the life and mission of the Oblate family, in the life and the experiences of his brothers. He writes to Father Guibert: “I do not need to tell you how I bless the Lord for all he achieves through your ministry; we are elated, as if this were new to us. I read the letter of our fathers in the community.[12] Eugene depends just as much on the prayer of his brothers: “If you do not pray for us, we are in a very bad way.”[13]
Eugene’s prayer remains an experience of faith to which he also constantly invites his brothers. By relying on God, the missionary becomes able to take risks, to show daring and sometimes participate in the madness of the Cross of Christ.

You can well believe that my heart bleeds when I hear you talk of all the good that comes before you and that you cannot embrace because of the lack of personnel. Our Congregation is not the Jesuits’, who abound and who do not know what to do with their people. We are a very small family who has given its all to go and set up its tents in America. In Europe, everything is suffering, and I am accused daily of being far too generous in making such great sacrifices both in numbers and in quality. I cannot regret anything; although I do strongly feel our misery. But it would be useless to boast that I can supply other subjects other than the one I have just mentioned to you. All the others are too young and they still need to be formed. Providence will come to your aid on site. (....)

You need to have a little courage and trust in God who shows us the way and will not abandon us when we accept in His name and for His glory. We have begun small everywhere we have established ourselves. The time has not yet come to do otherwise.[14]
Prayer nourishes collaboration with God, but it also deepens communion with the brothers and their mission. Encounters Eugene lives with Christ provide a space for even greater proximity with his brothers. He writes to Fr. Aubert in Saint Boniface on February 3, 1847:

I admit that sometimes, when I find myself in the presence of Jesus Christ, I experience a kind of illusion. It seems to me that you adore and pray along with me, and by Him present to you as to me, we understand each other as if we were very close to one another, even if unable to see each other. There is something very true in this thought. I usually come back to it and I cannot tell you the good and the comfort I experience. Try to do the same and you will experience it like I do.[15]

Love, the heart of missionary faith

Finally, Eugene is a man who loves. And that is the secret and source of his missionary faith. He loves his brothers and expresses it in a thousand and one ways. In so doing, he participates in the mystery of God the Father with whom he shares the mystery of paternity. And, as he is well aware, this love is a gift he receives:

My dear son, you may well be far away, at the end of the world, yet you are very present to my heart, nourished by the love I have for you. Believe me, this is the foremost feeling in my soul, and I beg you never to imagine, if I happen to make some little observation that you might consider a reproach that my estimation and my affection might be in the least mitigated. You will never love me one hundredth of what I love you. God, who destined me to be the father of a numerous family, has so created me and given me a part in the immensity of his love for men. Do not give up writing to me.[16]


In Eugene de Mazenod, the transmission of faith is an exchange, a sharing, an essentially relational reality, community based on trust, on listening, on searching, questioning and understanding. The transmission of faith is like a dialogue, an “exchange of gifts” as John Paul II said in his encyclical letter Ut unum sint on ecumenical commitment, published May 25, 1995 (No. 28).
He seeks to discern the voice of God in all that is lived there and in all that is shared with him, never enough according to his repeated insistence. He wants to know everything so as to be able to better discern, live in communion with what his sons, his missionaries, experience, His faith is made concrete in the ways in which he encourages, but also in the way he challenges his brothers. He certainly encourages, but in no way does he fear losing patience, denouncing, correcting, and providing mechanisms to deal with situations he deems unworthy of the greatness of the mission done by the Oblates. His vision and spirit of faith are bold and yet very practical in the events and experiences of his sons.
The missionary faith that Eugene lives, shares, deepens and celebrates is then a lively faith, guided, enlightened, and broadened by the Spirit. The experience of the founder is reclaimed by John Paul II in his Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio on the permanent value of the missionary mandate, published on December 7, 1990, in which he writes:

At the peak of the messianic mission of Jesus, the Holy Spirit becomes present in the Paschal Mystery in its capacity as divine subject: it is the Spirit who must now continue the salvific work rooted in the sacrifice of the cross. This work, of course, is entrusted to men by Jesus: to the Apostles, to the Church. However, in these men and through them, the Holy Spirit remains the transcendent subject of the realization of this work in the spirit of men and the history of the world.[17]17 The Holy Spirit, in fact, is the protagonist of the Church’s entire mission. (No. 21.)

Eugene believes in God the Father who has a concern for all humans, beginning with the poor, the excluded, the abandoned, and the neglected. His faith participates in that of Christ and therefore is translated into zeal, service, presence and proximity for the salvation of persons, of all persons. It is expressed every day through trust in others, in co-responsibility and brotherhood, in mutual support, in sharing, in integrity and in transparency. Cherished and nurtured in the sacraments and in life of prayer, faith is consolidated and deepened in the Paschal Mystery, in the trials, in the storms.
The Spirit that animated the founder is the same we have received through our baptism, and we are invited to live our faith in a way that allows people to fulfill their own mission in today’s world. This is the ultimate goal of the transmission of a missionary faith: that each and all – both individuals and communities – respond to the call to cooperate with Christ in the salvation of the world.

[1] M. Lesage and W.H. Woestman, La Règle di saint Eugène de Mazenod / The Rule of Saint Eugene de Mazenod, Faculty of Canon Low, Ottawa, Saint Paul Univer­sity, 1997, p. 13*-15*.

[2] To Father Honorat, on the establishment of a permanent community in Bytown, March 1 1844, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 1, p. 82. All the quotations are translated by my­self.

[3] Cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 69.

[4] To Bishop Phelan, coadjutor bishop of Kingston, June 8, 1846, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 1, p. 139.

[5] Cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 89.

[6] Cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 59.

[7] Cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 1, p. 30.

[8] To Father Honorat, July 18, 1844, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 1, p. 103.

[9] January 20, 1856, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 123-124.

[10] November 14, 1853, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 65-66.

[11]To Father Ricard, Mai 12, 1853, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, p. 57-58.

[12] March 20, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 7, p. 134

[13] To Father Tempier, March 11, 1816, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 6, p.26.

[14] To Father Guigues, December 5, 1844, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 1, p. 116-117.

[15] Cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 170.

[16] To Father Faraud, at the Red River, May 1, 1852, cf. “Écrits Oblats”, I, 2, p. 41.

[17] Taken from Dominum et Vivificantem, 1986, no. 42.


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