Thought for the Day – 21 May – Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Easter, C and The Memorial of St Eugene de Mazenod OMI (1782-1861)
Born into a noble family in Aix (Provence), Saint Eugene spent part of his childhood in Italy because of the French Revolution. Ordained a priest at Amiens in 1811, he soon organised missionaries to go to rural parts of Provence, instructing the people whose religious training had been disrupted for many years by the French Revolution and its aftermath.
Eugene began the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in 1816, obtaining papal approval for them 10 years later. From rural preaching, they soon moved into running seminaries to improve the quality of the clergy. Their first foreign mission was in Canada in 1841; soon they were in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America.
In 1851, Eugene followed his uncle as archbishop of Marseilles where he died 10 years later. He had focused his energies on Church renewal and reform while vigorously defending the Church’s right to spread the Good News.
His congregation has grown to become one of the largest in the Church, serving in over 68 countries, especially in Africa and Canada. Many of its members have become missionary bishops.
At Eugene’s Canonisation in 1998, St Pope John Paul II praised his vision, perseverance, and conformity to God’s will, saying: “His influence is not limited to the age in which he lived but continues its effect on our time…
Saint Eugene de Mazenod allowed the grace of God to bear rich fruit in his life. That required a certain amount of flexibility, as well as courage, to face the problems every growing group encounters. We look to saints like Eugene not to borrow their courage and zeal but, with God’s grace, to discover our own, always seeking first God’s kingdom (see Matthew 6:33).
Note: We have these Oblates in our Diocese in the Western Cape, South Africa, whilst they look the same as any other priest, they are not – they follow the pattern of St Eugene and are vessels, by the grace of God, of His marvellous and effective love and zeal!