leaked badly. In the words of Eugene de Mazenod: “the rain fell as freely inside as outside.” In 1855 when Eugene purchased the convent its three wings were occupied by a boarding school for girls and the fourth wing was a turned into apartments. Originally what he could use was the church, the chapel behind the main altar that used to serve the Carmelites for their prayers as they were a contemplative order and the room attached to the church at the top of the stairway. The agreement was that the rest of the building was to be rented by the school for the girls for 7 years. However a few months later the school bankrupted and Eugene had the building for his own purposes. However in 1815 he didn’t know that yet. When he bought the convent the main idea was to have space for his youth movement however there was another “impulse from within” that turned things in a new direction.
Eugene was so excited that he didn’t sign the letter but Fr Tempier had no troubles to realize who wrote it. He agreed straight away. Here I would like to highlight a couple of things that may seem to be astonishing. Fr Tempier is ready to join Eugene after just one letter. He hadn’t met Eugene yet but he is ready to commit his life to something new. We may wonder how it is possible to make such a big decision so quickly at the request of an unknown person. Well, even if Fr Eugene and Fr Henry didn’t know each other yet they had a common friend: JESUS CHRIST. When Eugene wrote to Fr Tempier he asked him to read the letter at the foot of the crucifix. He did so as his own vocation was born at the foot of the cross that Good Friday some years ago. He believed that if Fr Tempier was to agree it could only come from the same source. Today we see that he was right. However in Fr Tempier Eugene got more than a collaborator, Fr Tempier became Eugene’s friend for life. During the first years of his priestly ministry at Aix (1812-1815), Eugene de Mazenod did not have a true friend who was able to lessen his cares and to share his great designs, as he candidly says in one of his letters. His encounter with Father Tempier brought him what he was looking for and even more. Besides sharing plans and giving comfort in troubles, Father Tempier, a man who was calm, pondered and much less emotional than Eugene, tempered the outbursts of Eugene’s character and helped him ‑ at times also replacing him ‑ perseveringly to accomplish all his plans and undertakings.
After the agreement of Fr Henry and another priest Fr Icard, Eugene de Mazenod could take further steps. He wanted a blessing from the Church. Once again he walks to the House of the Archbishops of Aix. At the time there is no Archbishops but there are two priests who are in church of the Aix Diocese. Eugene presents to them his projects and asks them to OK it. After some clarification they approved it. If only had they known what the future held in store! They just thought that it would remain a small group of a few priests. Well it has grown bigger then that today there are 4500 men who follow in the footsteps of the man who came on his own to the House of the Archbishops.
Let me take you on now a little walk through the cradle of the Oblate Congregation.