March 1st 1835 brought a short but telling letter from C. J. Eugene. Bishop of Icosia to Fr. Courtes in Aix where he wrote requesting that Brother Kotterer go to Aix to make his retreat for ordination under Father Casimir Aubert’s direction.
“My dear Son, my intention is to ordain Brother Kotterer at the first ordination in Lent. I am far from displeased, this child is going to make a good retreat in preparation for that and it wouldn’t be easy for him to find the necessary facilities here on account of the demands which the disease that is afflicting us is making on our Fathers. For this reason I am sending him to Aix, my intention being that he enter the novitiate and spend the whole time there in profound retreat under the special direction of the master of novices. Please place this dear ordination candidate in his care as I have placed him in yours so that he may become a good priest of the kind the Church needs. Affectionate greetings and my blessing to all.” (507:VIII in Oblate Writings)
Wow – one size does not fit all. This was certainly not a case of just churning out priests.
This letter seems to be asking for something special – a place where Brother Kotterer can do a profound long retreat before ordination – in Aix where it is quieter and no mention of cholera. But Eugene’s love of this young man that he calls a child which I suppose is how it looks to him from his 50 years. Eugene was trying to make sure that all of the young men, the Oblates have what they will need to be good priests and even better Oblates.
I find myself wanting to cry at this tender truth. All of his life he loved and this was no exception. This has been a gift of untold proportions for me this morning – just to witness this. It is how I would like to become.