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The common theme running through all the descriptions of the ministry of the Missionaries was this infallible rule:
We are never to lose sight of one of the principal ends of our Institute, which is to help the most abandoned souls.
As Eugene unfolds the ministry of the Missionaries in the 1818 Rule, he applies this principle In the fourth category: evangelizing the prisoners :
For this reason, the unfortunate inmates of prisons have a rightful claim upon the charity of the Society.
The response of the Missionaries was
we will try to meet their needs, as far as circumstances permit, by frequently visiting them and by teaching them their religious duties, at least on Sundays, when we can get into these places of detention.
Among this category of abandoned people, the Missionary was to pay special attention the “most abandoned” of this group, those condemned to death – abandoned and shunned by society, and sadly by the Jansenist church too. The Missionary was to follow the example of Jesus and reach out:
In accordance with all the resources of Christian charity we will use every means in our power to assist those who have been condemned to death.
1818 Rule, Part One, Chapter 3, §4. Prisons.
[On the website you can find more information on this in the entries of 5 – 9 July, 2010]
Source: Eugene de Mazenod speaks to us
“The just is close to the people’s heart, but the merciful is close to the heart of God.” Khalil Gibran