Meditations to prepare for the anniversary of the first vows of November 1, 1818

Structures and mission: Constitution 72: “United as brothers in one apostolic community, we are all equal before God our Father who distributes charisms and ministries so that we can serve his Church and its mission.  Our organizational structures, accordingly, are set up in function of that mission. 

Following the guidelines of the Constitutions and Rules, those in authority will make sure that the structures are flexible enough to evolve with our lived experience.”

The General Chapter – Constitution 125: “The General Chapter is the highest authority within the Congregation.  It meets regularly to strengthen the bonds of unity and to express the members’ participation in the life and mission of the Congregation.

United around Christ, the Oblate family shares the lived experience of its communities as well as the challenges and hopes of its ministry.  The Chapter is a privileged time of community reflection and conversion.  Together, in union with the Church, we discern God’s will in the urgent needs of our times and thank the Lord for the work of salvation which he accomplishes through us.”

Father Tempier contributed to the expansion of the Congregation.  First in France, in 1817, he agreed that it be established in Corsica, “I do not see why we would refuse it.”[1]  He encouraged the Oblates of Canada, Africa, and Ceylon. As in this letter of 1868 to Father Barret, “… I have always, with great concern, kept informed of your labors, your consolations and your sorrows. Let us continue to work for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. Even if the fruits are not abundant, God will not take less account of the good that we wanted to do…”[2]

It was he who worked for the establishment of the Oblates in Algeria.  He would visit Canada in 1851 and England on his return. Father Honorat thanked the Founder for Father Tempier’s visit to Canada, “All our Fathers, I believe, have profited as much as they could want, because he neglected no effort to accomplish all the good that was in his power to do, both in general and for individuals.”[3]

Father Albini wrote in 1837, “Oh!  We can really see that you are attached, heart and soul, to our Congregation and to the members who are faithful to it.”[4]

Father Tempier worked on the redaction of the CC & RR, “… pay attention to our Statutes. We do not have much to take from those of Paris, since they speak of a Society composed of several houses, while ours will never have but one. Give this matter two hours each day. […] Reread Saint Philip Neri and the petition we submitted to the Vicars General …”[5]

When Brother Ignatius wanted to join the Congregation, it was Father Tempier who undoubtedly composed the first draft of a regulation, or chapter of the Rules, concerning the Brothers.[6]

What, then, about his work as Treasurer General of the Congregation? “From the very first days of our existence … it was to him that he [the Founder] entrusted the administration of the assistance that Providence made available to the small community. Father Tempier exercised these functions of bursar of Divine Providence, of Procurator of the Congregation, all his life.”[7]

Over the years, Father Tempier succeeded in creating a reserve fund as the Founder had asked: “… my goal has always been to create capital, which could provide for the most pressing needs of life, certainly not with the idea of hoarding, but of supplementing the donations that all Congregations have in all the countries of the world…”[8]

“It is said of Father Tempier, that he closely followed the various projects, measuring stick to hand and hand near the wallet.”[9]  He drew up the plans himself and followed the construction of several buildings.  Even the civil prefecture recognized his competence, in appointing him to a departmental commission for major works that were to be undertaken in Marseille.[10]

We invite you to reread the third part of our CC & RR, “The Organization of the Congregation.”  Constitution 72 clearly states, “the structures of the Congregation have no other purpose than to support the mission.”

As we reread the life of Father Tempier, we recall that it is the entire Congregation that exercises responsibility for the mission the Church entrusts to us. We can have a wide variety of works – including Oblates who find it impossible to undertake an external ministries due to illness, age, or internal service to the Congregation. It is the whole community that accomplishes the ministry through the various services of its members.

This might also be an opportunity to write a note, to hear from an oblate from a Province other than mine…

[1] Lettre de Tempier à Mazenod, collection Ecrits oblats II,2 Rome 1987, p 14.
[2] Lettre du P. Tempier au P. Barret du 30 mai 1868, collection Ecrits oblats II,2 Rome 1987, p 117.
[3] Lettre du P. Honorat au Fondateur du 15 septembre 1851, collection Ecrits oblats II,1 Rome 1987, p 89.
[4] Lettre du P. Albini au P. Tempier du 3 février 1837, collection Ecrits oblats II,1 Rome 1987. p 91.
[5] Lettre de Mazenod à Tempier du 15 décembre 1816
[6] Cf. P. J-M Larose, les sources des articles des Règles concernant les frères coadjuteurs, Etudes Oblates 14 (1955), pp.279-283
[7] Notices nécrologiques II, p97, P. Tempier, collection Ecrits oblats II,1 Rome 1987, pp.61-62
[8] Lettre de Mazenod au P. Tempier du 20 (22) janvier 1826, Lettres aux oblats de France, Vol 7, p. 17.
[9] Collection Ecrits oblats II,1 Rome 1987, p. 53.
[10] Collection Ecrits oblats II,1 Rome 1987, pp. 53-55.