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Home WHO WE ARE Virtual Library VIRTUAL LIBRARY Foreign Assumptionists in North America 1850-2000 (part 2)

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Foreign Assumptionists in North America 1850-2000

(Online version - part 2)

Jean-Paul Périer-Muzet 

Translated and edited by Robert Fortin, A.A., Joseph Fredette. A.A., and Richard Richards, A.A.

Brighton, MA - Yale, MI
2006


Short Biographies of Foreign Assumptionist Religious

In the North American Province 1850 – 2000

 

 

Table of Contents

Part 1

José Allavena Orengo. 1

Crescent Armanet 3

Arnaud (Alfred) Arnaud. 5

Etienne-Marie (Louis) Aubert 7

Marie-Rogatien (Paul) Bahuaut 9

Bernardin (Jean-Pierre) Bal-Fontaine. 11

Anastase (Eugène-Louis) Baudart 13

Léocade (François Joseph) Bauer 15

Gerulf (Eugène) (Hugo) Bervoets. 18

Henri (Anthelme) Blanc. 20

Réginald (Louis Lucien) Bonnet 22

Joachim (François-Marie) Bosseno. 24

Gérard (Louis-François) Boudou. 26

Henri (Jean Pierre Henri) Brun. 28

Alphonse-Marie (Gabriel) Bugnard. 31

Adrien Buisson. 33

Renaud (Jean-Baptiste) Burdin. 35

Evariste (Jean-Charles) Buytaers. 37

Octave (Eugène-Louis-Joseph) Caron. 39

Albert (Albéric) Catoire. 41

Ildefonse (Pierre Alphonse) Causse. 43

Lazare (Pierre-Théophile) Chabant 45

Stéphane (Jacques Marie) Chaboud. 47

Dominique (Auguste) Chaurand. 49

Angelome (Clovis-Jean) Cleux. 51

Aubain (Armand) Colette. 53

Dionysius (Arnold Henri) Cornelisse. 55

Timothy (Patrick) Croghan. 58

Thomas (Edouard-Jules) Darbois. 61

Georges (Louis-Joseph) Demiautte. 65

Engelbert (Eugène) Devincq. 67

Marie-Louis (Louis) Deydier 71

Jean-Damascène (Jean-Baptiste) Dhers. 73

Jérémie (Alfred Joseph) Douziech. 75

Odilon (Claudius) Dubois. 77

Cassien (Antoine) Dubost 81

André (André-Gustave) Dumont 85

Marius (Marius-Louis) Dumoulin. 87

Jean (Jean-Joseph-Marie) Falhun. 90

Bernard Walstan (Harold-T.C.) Farrow 92

Aymard (Jean-Baptiste) Faugère 94

Basile (Jean-Marie) Filaire. 96

Hermès (André) Fuchs 98

Francisco (F.-Felipe) Garcia Gonzalez. 101

Marie-Alexis (Arthur) Gaudefroy. 103

Isidore (Hippolyte-Emile) Gayraud. 105

Eugène (Eugène Léon René) Giraud. 107

Armand (Jules, Joseph, Ghislain) Goffart 109

Michel-Ange (Michel) Gomez. 114

Polyeucte (Firmin, H. - J.) Guissard. 116

Marcellin (Charles Emile) Guyot 119

Yves (Yves-Marie-Pierre) Hamon. 121

 

Part 2

David (George) Hennessy. 124

Tanguy (Yves-Marie) Jointer 127

Paul de la Croix (Paul) Journet 130

Marie Emile (Emile-Joseph) Ladret 132

Marie Joseph (Joseph-Marie) Laity. 134

Yvon (Jean-Yves-Marie) Le Floc’h 136

Roland (Jules-César) Leroy. 141

Tarcisio (Gaspar) Lorente Madorran. 144

Luis Madina. 147

François Xavier (Félix) Marchet 150

Rodolphe (Léon René) Martel 152

Hydulphe (Félix-E.-J.) Mathiot 155

Edouard (Philippe) Melchior 159

Amarin (René) Mertz. 161

Alfred (Joseph Gérard Laurent) Moors. 164

Fulgence (Nicolas Auguste) Moris. 166

Aurèle  (Aimé-François-Ernest) Odil 168

Edmund O’Donnell 171

Amédée (François-Albert) Ollier 176

Tranquille (M. -Tranquille) Pessoz [Pesse] 178

Vincent Ferrier (François-Louis) Petro. 180

Pacôme (Antoine-Marie) Philip. 182

Elisée (Joseph- Marie-Désiré) Rathoin. 186

Zacharie (Bernard) Saint-Martin. 188

Lambert (Joseph-Théodore) Saive. 190

Eleutherios (Epaminondas) Schinas. 192

Clodoald (Antonin-Pierre) Serieix. 194

Bartholomew Sharkey. 197

Antoine (Jacques) Silbermann. 199

Marie-Gabriel (Léon-Victor-F.) Soulice. 201

Rumold (Jean-Joseph) Spinnael 203

Marie-Clément (Joseph) Staub. 205

Donat (Pierre-Marcel-Joseph) Teissier 208

Symphorien (Elie) Terraz. 210

Bavo Maurits (Albertus-Antonius) Theys. 213

Sylvestre Troussard. 215

Marcellinus (Jacobus-Antonius) Trum... 217

Felipe Uceda. 220

Janvier (Marie-Joseph) Vallon. 222

Paulien (Prosper-Claudius) Vassel 224

Ange (Charles-Louis-J.) Vermech. 227

Jude (Joseph-M.-Charles) Verstaen. 229

Oscar (Gabriel-Oscar-Otto) Zoppi 232

 

 

Part 2

David (George) Hennessy

1913-1982

English religious of the Province of North America.

English origins.

George Hennessy (this is the correct spelling and not ‘Hennessey’) was born October 20, 1913 at Gillingham in England (Kent), in the diocese of Southwark. After his primary studies at the boarding school of Saint Christian in Kent county and at St. Peter’s R.C. School at Shoreham-by-the-Sea, he got to know the Assumption at St. Michael’s College in Hitchin (1931-1934). He took the habit under the name of Brother David October 1, 1934 at Les Essarts novitiate (Seine-Maritime) and made his first vows there October 3, 1936. Fr. Marie-Albert Devynck, master of novices, presented him for profession as “ a religious with a quite complicated nature, with a simple character, at times candid, but having a calculating temperament, afraid of being caught at fault. However, he redeems this by his willing service, his desire to be useful, and traits of a quite marked originality”. It was at Scy-Chazelles (Moselle) that Brother David began his philosophy (1935-1937). Perpetually professed at Lormoy (Essonne) November 1, 1938, he was ordained a priest December 21, 1940 at Hitchin (England). It was there that he exercised his first years of ministry serving at the college (1940-1944), then at Bethnal Green (London) from 1944 to 1947, and finally at Newhaven (1947-1951). At this point his problems started. In December 1951, he left religious life and the priesthood to live a married life. He put an end to this situation in March 1957. He was progressively integrated in all of his obligations and all of his rights like at the beginning of his religious life, after having spent a retreat and recovery period at the Trappist monastery of Coalville (Leicester, in the diocese of Nottingham). Fr. David was then sent with the agreement of his superiors to the province of North America in January 1958.

At the service of the Assumption in the U.S.A.

Well received and surrounded by other religious in the U.S.A., Fr. David was able to take up a regular ministry at the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe (New York), while residing at the neighboring rectory of Guardian Angels. In 1967, a proof of the trust on the part of his confreres was given when he was chosen as second counselor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish community where he was especially appreciated as a curate and put in charge of the archdiocesan apostolate for mariners and the many poor of the quarters of the port. Fr. Armand Desautels, at the time Provincial Superior, expressed his satisfaction for the devoted ministry of Fr. David “ who reveals treasures of charity and a conduct beyond all reproach”. In 1978, when Fr. David reached the age of retiring, he was named chaplain for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus. He accompanied the circus personnel in their itinerant life and was very appreciated for his devotion and willingness to help. Msgr. Bevilaque, president of the Committee for Migrants and Tourism, praised the zeal of this religious. Fr. David died suddenly during a tour of the circus at Charlotte, (North Carolina), March 22, 1982, at the age of 69. He was buried with his Assumptionist confreres at Fiskdale.

Addenda.

From 1969 to 1979, Fr. David worked at the Apostolate of the Sea.

Ministry in Motley: David Hennessy, A.A. 1913-1982 (ANA Oct.-Nov. 1999, 14-17, Richard Richards, a.a.).

Young David had one sister. His father was William John Hennessy and his mother was called Rosanna. William John Hennessy was in the Royal Navy for 27 years and then became a fisherman. David once said: “All my people were either in the Royal Navy or in the Coast Guard.

After 1927, for a few years he followed the family tradition and joined the British Merchant Navy as a galley boy. “The only thing lower than me was the ship’s cat,” he once said. But by the end of the hitch, he had become the ship’s cook, a real ‘sea-cook.’ All the rest of his life he loved to cook and really was a gourmet cook…

In 1958, David came to the USA and would minister here until his death. He never became a member of this Province but in January 1964, he did become a naturalized American citizen. David was first assigned to St. Anne’s parish in Fiskdale, MA, in charge of the Assumptionists since December 14, 1955. In Fiskdale David went to one of his hobbies, beekeeping. The quiet, somewhat rural parish was not enough to keep David busy, and in November 1961, he was assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in NYC. Later he was second councilor and treasurer there.

In 1969, he began another sort of apostolate, returning to his roots, so to speak. He was appointed as assistant to Msgr. Rafferty, Pastor of Guardian Angel parish, 10th Avenue at 21st Street, NYC. David was Assistant Pastor and Assistant Port Chaplain for the New York archdiocese. From 1969 to 1978, David ministered to stevedores, seamen, and ship’s crews, often using the foreign languages he knew: French, Italian, Spanish, and some German. He soon became a well-known figure to Customs and Port officials as he worked with crews of freighters, great ocean liners, and cruise ships.

In 1978, David’s life took another turn, in another fascinating direction. One evening, he went to the wake of a circus clown he admired, Otto Griebling. He mentioned to the widow and her two sons that undoubtedly a priest would come to recite the rosary. :Oh no,” she responded, “We’re circus people, you know.” David realized that there was no one who would offer spiritual comfort. That upset him greatly, because David had been a circus fan since childhood. He once told a New York Times reporter: “I never missed a circus. Sometimes I’d go twice a day and get a good hiding into the bargain for being away from home. :’Circus mad,’ they’d say.” So David decided to do something to minister to the circus people.

… The Assumptionist Provincial then, Fr. Joseph Loiselle, wrote a memo about Father David’s death…”On Wednesday evening, March 17, the circus arrived in Charlotte, NC and was greeted by the Bishop and Chancellor. They spoke with Fr. David who did not seem very “alert”. David invited the Bishop to celebrate mass on Saturday morning, March 20, for the circus people. The bishop celebrated the mass… and some of the circus people told the bishop that they were worried about Father David’s health and urged him to see a doctor. A priest who was with the bishop then saw Father David and urged him to see a doctor. Father David absolutely refused, saying there was nothing to worry about. On Sunday, a priest went to check on Father David but received no answer when he knocked on the door of Father David’s camper. The priest asked some of the circus people if they knew where David was. They answered that he might be out having a bite to eat since he kept irregular hours. The circus people were leaving for Knoxville, TN that day, but Father David had said that he would only be leaving on the following day, Monday, March 22. Tuesday, a doctor who saw David’s camper still there, went and knocked on the door. Having received no answer, he called the police who opened the camper door and found Father David who appeared to have been dead for some time.” The autopsy report stated that the immediate cause of death was atherosclerotic cardio-renal disease.

Text from Fr. David Hennessy dated 3 October 1980.      [This reveals different aspects of his life.]

I am a little late in getting this letter off to you. I have been rather busy. When we left New York in June we went to Philadelphia for a couple of weeks. Every day I went up to the Shrine to offer my mass in front of the body of my precious saint. I also participated in a special Novena Service, preached by a Redemptorist friend of mine who works with the migrant workers (Mexicans) and leads a similar life to my own. I always take advantage of being close to a church to charge up my spiritual batteries, (not that the Shrine was close; it took me the best part of an hour in the mornings to reach it. It is so necessary in this type of work (and in others too) to keep the spiritual thermometer at a high level. There is so much giving spiritually that one must let the larder become bare. After Philly I set out for Orlando, Florida, to pick up a new truck and trailer. This was given to me by relatives and personal friends. My motor home was on its way out. One cannot do the thousands of miles along the roads of America and not expect some thing to wear out. I suppose that you are thinking that old Dave is wearing out too.  Strangely enough the life agrees with me physically as no other has done since my youth. I am as fit as a fiddle except for a bout of flu a couple of towns ago that went through the circus like wild fire.

I rise every morning between four and five; offer my Mass; say my morning prayers; wash, shave, and have a good bowl of coffee and milk (as in the olden days of Lormoy etc.), perhaps some cottage cheese; then I begin to work. I’m always at the languages. I use Spanish, French, Italian, and German every day of my life; I keep them polished up. Then I read some theology or sacred scripture; prepare a sermon etc., and this includes spiritual reading. I then have a couple of catechism classes (am preparing four for Holy Communion in Rosemont, Illinois—this will be televised on Good Morning America. I think that it will be taped on October 24th next.)If there is a church nearby – four or five blocks away – I go there and spend an hour or so with Our Blessed lord; make myself known to the local clergy and come back to my trailer. A light lunch and a rest and then ready for the four o’clock show. (Two daily: 4 and 8). I’m always about when the show is going on because then the artists can see and talk to me. You see, they live for the most part on the train, which may be parked as far as 20 miles from the building where the show is playing. A light meal after the show, vespers, night prayers, and back to the 8 p.m. show. After the High Wire act, I generally retire for the night. The mornings are mine so to speak because no one rises in the Circus much before midday. I do a monthly retreat and also an annual one when I return to Venice. As I said before, a very high spiritual level is required here.

Whilst at Circus World I received an urgent message to return to the Show, this time in Tucson, Arizona. A brilliant boy, a trapeze artist fell and according to medical evidence, he was dead from the moment he hit the ground. However, he was kept on a respirator for nearly a week. I spent this time between the show, the hotel, and the hospital. He was operated on the Friday and they immediately closed him up. The doctor described his brain like – a pea in a drum – detached from the rest f his body. Five neurosurgeons gave their opinion and the doctor in charge (an excellent Catholic) told the parents and myself that to continue life support attachments was wrong. A decision had to be made and the parents, after consultation with me, decided to remove these “extraordinary means.” Four minutes later there were no vital signs and the boy was pronounced dead. This was the first time I had to give an opinion in matters such as these. I must say that in my 40 years as a priest (21st December of this year.) never have I witnessed such an outpouring of sympathy from the whole township. Radio, TV, newspapers – everybody was so concerned for the boy and his family. The nuns at the hospital, the Chaplain, the doctors and the nurses were praying that God’s will be done. Masses were being offered. I offered one in the Circus ring and I had the biggest congregation I have ever had – nearly 400 -.

The body was flown to Los Angeles for burial. I went, naturally enough. The Franciscan Fathers were in charge of the church in downtown Los Angeles – an entirely Mexican-American quarter – and I stayed with them. At this point, I must say that clergy and religious up and down the country – and I include in that up and down, many thousands of miles and many different states – have been so good to me and I have appreciated their fraternal charity, their chapels, and their churches where I have been able to offer Mass, pray, and meditate. I must add that I have spoken of my particular apostolate in several Cathedrals throughout the land.

The funeral itself was beautiful – performers, past performers, bosses, the President and Vice President of the Mattel Toy Company who own the Circus were there. I offered the Mass in Spanish and preached in Spanish and in English. He was laid to rest on the hillside of a beautiful cemetery in Los Angeles. Julio was only 16 years of age, but he had the potential of a great Flyer. As a matter of fact, his obits classed him with the greatest. …

I have had several baptisms this year and am preparing children for first communion as I said. One marriage in New York and another coming up in Venice. We had a nice baptism (Polish) in Philadelphia. The priest came to see my people and all was arranged. What a surprise! The church was packed. We had confessions, Mass, baptism during mass, and a reception afterwards in the church. The parishioners (Polish) really did their countrymen proud.

After the death of Julio, the family act was taken out of the show and sent back to Florida. We have a new one now from Mexico: three young men and a young lady. They have traveled extensively on the continent of Europe and spent some time in the Chipperfields in England. They speak French and Italian besides their own native Spanish and English. We have quite a time with French, English, Italian, and Spanish lessons… I haven’t much to show for forty years, but I did try and try very hard “to do what He wanted done to the least of His brethren.” I am enjoying it more than ever now and all I ask Him, and I do this through my good friend Saint John Berchmans, to give me the grace and strength to carry on until such time as He calls me to Him to render an account of my stewardship.

Tanguy (Yves-Marie) Jointer

1912-1987

Religious of the Province of France, Provincial of Bordeaux (1958-1964).

Youth and formation.

Yves Marie Jointer was born in Paris April 8, 1912 of a family originating from Trégor (Brittany) to which he was and always remained attached. He followed courses at the communal school of Lanmeur until 1923 before entering the Saint-Maur alumnate (Maine-et-Loire) where he did his studies from 1923 to 1926. He did his humanities at Arras (1926-1927) and Clairmarais (Pas-de-Calais) from 1926 to 1927. October 28, 1928, he took the religious habit at the Scy-Chazelles novitiate (Moselle), under the name of Brother Tanguy. He made his first profession there January 29, 1930. He then spent two years at the Saint Gérard scholasticate in Belgium (1930-1932) and a year teaching at the Toulouse orphanage (Haute-Garonne). In 1933, he began theology at Lormoy (Essonne) and was admitted to perpetual profession November 21, 1934. He was ordained to the priesthood February 21, 1937.

Teaching and the Press (1937-1958).

Father Tanguy began his apostolic life teaching at the humanities alumnate in Cavalerie (Dordogne) during two years (1937-1939). From 1939 to 1949, he taught the second level at the college Saint-Caprais of Agen (Lot-et-Garonne). He was then named director of the Editions de la Bonne Presse, which, renamed Editions du Centurion, began a new expansion. Mr. Monnin, President-Director General of the Bonne Presse, gave witness to the good work of Fr. Tanguy: “I remember him as a happy and distinguished person, a man of discretion, the perfect gentleman, with whom it was easy to work”. In the fall of 1956, Fr. Tanguy was sent to Rome to create the French edition of the Osservatore Romano. Having returned to Paris a few months later, he was chaplain of Our Lady of Salvation at François Ier Street. During the summer of 1957, he was named superior of the Agen College. Saint-Caprais at that time was a dusty, old institute where Fr. Tugdual Tréhorel was not able to handle both the pedagogical battle and the renovation of the buildings. Fr. Jointer and his friend, Mr. Gauthier, decided to clean up and renovate the college.

Bordeaux Provincial (1958-1964).

In 1958, Fr. Tanguy was named provincial of Bordeaux. This province on the eve of the Council was made up of 373 religious of whom 240 were priests, 87 choir brothers, and 46 lay brothers. There was a common novitiate for the French provinces (Pont l’Abbé d’Arnoult), as well as a philosophy scholasticate (Layrac). Teaching held an important place in the works of the province with 3 colleges (Agen, Tarbes, Toulouse), 2 orphanages (Toulouse, Kerbernès), a house for apprentices in Madrid, a house for late vocations (Blou), and 6 alumnates (Cahuzac, Melle, Saint-Maur, Cavalerie, Elorrio in Spain, Eugenopolis in Brazil). The staffed parishes were urban: (Angoulême, Caudéran, Fumel, La Rochelle, Melle, Madrid, Barcelona, Suquets, Eugenopolis, and Neropolis). Some twenty religious of the West work at the French General Works. Fr. Jointer built a new provincial house at Bordeaux-Caudéran with a beautiful chapel (1962). These years at Bordeaux were for Fr. Tanguy those of a mature age, a time of decisions to take, and a certain solitude. He was faced with the necessity of making risky decisions and the discomfort of accepting unresolved situations.

New roots (1964-1987).

In 1964, Fr. Tanguy was named superior at Cahuzac (Gers). The alumnate closed down in 1967 and the community worked exclusively in parish ministry. Between 1969 and 1971, Fr. Tanguy took back his birth name of Fr. Yves and lived at Lormoy where the scholasticate had now become a house for spiritual retreats. He then spent two years in Canada at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Beauvoir that the Assumptionists animated. Upon his return during the summer of 1973, he was named chaplain for the Little Sisters of the Assumption at rue Violet in Paris. Fr. Yves died in January 1987 in a road accident. For a week, a cold front had ravaged Europe. Fr. Yves and his old friend, Mr. Prosper Gauthier, were undoubtedly surprised by black ice on Saturday, January 17, 1987, at Saint-Félix de Lauranguais (Haute Garonne). The funeral for these two old friends that life and death had reunited forever was celebrated in the church of Notre-Dame de Mazamet (Tarn). Fr. Yves’ body was brought to Layrac January 21, the date of his burial in the vault of the Assumption in the Layrac cemetery.

Addenda.

A difficult state.

It is not customary that a religious present his resignation, but he can return his position to a Superior, if in the unanimous opinion of the religious it can only degenerate with him. In fact, Fr. Girard-Reydet did not hide from me, right from the start, that there were suspicions concerning the manuscripts having been read and the validity of our nihil obstat. He also told me that the edition had strongly deviated from the line of the Bonne Presse. My service is also in deficit of 110 million and my novelties are most likely in part responsible for that. Besides, the head director reproaches me with breaching his good faith by bringing from one to another the editorial problems that needed to be resolved. I hadn’t protected the interests of the editorial house very much, and at the very least I compromised them by my imprudence. I feel that the direction has many other complaints but I have difficulty in expressing them. A statute for the edition was set up, a heavy administrative machine composed of two councils of 6 members… I believe that for a new spirit and new methods, a new man is needed. The Michel de Saint-Pierre affair crystallized this year of mutual incomprehension…”

A “Father from France” with his Quebec Cousins  by Noël Le Bousse, a.a.

[ANA, April-May- June 2001 13-14]

Here I am since 1 March with the Canadian Montmartre community. I left Jerusalem at the season when the almonds were in flower, the tree that announces spring, and now I find myself in the snows of Quebec, after a short stay in Paris at the request of the Provincial to replace Father Xavier Triaire who is ill and had to return to France.

For those who have questions concerning this changing of countries, temperature, apostolate, I would like to state that this was an unexpected experience of my sabbatical year, but a happy one. This is so thanks to the hospitality of the community and the fraternal spirit that is found there. And there is also, the attraction of Canada, for me a childhood dream.

Two months of presence at the end of winter and already two months of spring-summer, it seems as if time would go by more quickly with the color of the flowers, but winter drags on in its layers of snow. The maple water harvest is finished – here it’s a big event! – and with the feast of Easter that has been celebrated, I had the impression that nature and people were waiting for the end of winter. In a few days, the ice split on the St. Lawrence River, exploding in blocks that were washed downstream; nature exploded through a sun that was still quite pale; the trees are full of buds. Nature has come alive once again. People also. They hurried to repair the ravages of the winter, turn over the soil, seed, plant, and finally live outside…

What is striking from a Breton who lived on an island, 15 times smaller than the Isle of Orleans in front of Quebec, is the immensity of the country, long straight roads, extended forests, countless small lakes, the nice houses and the river, a real sea, on which cargo ships travel or sailboats amuse themselves. What more can an island dweller ask for? He seems to be at home on the Ouessant railroad… This Breton traveler in the old Quebec thinks for a few moments that’s he is in his old Landerneau or St. Malo. But the French accent he hears reminds him that he is with his cousins of the New World.

I came here for the shrine and the community. It certainly is not the youth of a scholasticate and yet there is a youth of the heart, friendships, fraternity. Life is happy, following the rhythm of the community prayer, and attentive to the needs of one another. Good humor is sustained by the one who tells stories and the one who, with eyes that shine goodness, accepts to be at the center of the stories. It is also sustained by the brother who knows how to dose his wit so that no oil is poured on the fire. The one who tells the story speaks about the past and teaches traditions. Those are good times of community life that on certain occasions does not hide their worries about the future.

The Superior, Brother Pierre-Jean, has his hands full trying to keep harmony and peace on a keyboard with many stops. The Montmartre is a huge complex with a rich past of apostolate for the shrine and the center. Today, everything is still there, and it must be continued, animated, pursued and possibly, this is the most difficult, wait. Lay people work at the Center with hope for the future waiting for the Assumption to guide them. Faithful come to the shrine like others go to the shrines of St. Joseph. The Cape, and Ste. Anne. The sisters are precious by their presence and their activities near the community. The community animates as well as it can. It is there, present. It waits. It waits conscious of its strength and age.

For my part, I take my turn in the animation and preaching. I learned that this history of the Sacred Heart – for which, I must admit, I had no special devotion and was not prepared to speak about it – could hold a fertile spirituality for our time. I worked on Msgr. Delaporte’s book: “Coeur du Christ, icône de Dieu” (Heart of Christ, icon of God). No doubt my passage at Lourdes has helped me to take people where they are in their devotions, seeing the risks that these hold. It is a question of starting from their realities to evangelize them so that they can advance further. This is my tiny collaboration with the apostolate of the shrine with the team of fathers that I admire for what they do and their faith in a ministry that they recognize as fragile. I also had some time to take in a few theology conferences and I started to learn English, sustained by the whole community, the sisters and the lay people of the monastery. Lots of encouragement and compassion for the “Father Christmas” but I understood very well that encouragements in the stadium do not impede the athletes from suffering in their disciplines.

And now? In a month I’ll be thinking of going back, happy with this community experience and I’ll keep a fine souvenir of all, the fraternity and example given in humility. I hope that I have not set a pattern for those who will come after me since I want them to have their own freedom. With their arrival it will be like when winter is ending. Here they know that spring always comes and they hope. Will summer be nice, long, sunny? I saw that in Quebec with a bit of sun, nature is only waiting to explode.

Quebec, 19 June 2001 --

Paul de la Croix (Paul) Journet

1872-1934

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A journey summarized.

We were not able to find a leaflet consecrated to the memory of Fr. Paul de la Croix Journet, but he briefly described his life until 1933. We transcribe faithfully the curriculum vitae that he left:

Born at Sumène (Gard) September 4, 1872, Paul Journet did his grammar studies at the Roussas alumnate (Drôme) from 1885 to 1888 and his humanities at Nîmes (Gard) from 1888 to 1890. He took the religious habit under the name of Brother Paul de la Croix at the Livry-Gargan Abbey (Seine-Saint-Denis) August 6, 1890 where he pronounced his first vows the following year. His second year of novitiate took place on the banks of the Sea of Marmara, at Phanaraki (Turkey) where he made his perpetual vows August 6, 1892. He went to Notre-Dame of Jerusalem for his philosophy and theology (1892-1897). Bishop Appodia ordained him a priest December 19, 1896. His first postings were for the Eastern mission: Zongouldak in Turkey, on the Black Sea, where he was a young superior from 1897 to 1901; then again as superior, he went to Varna in Bulgaria from 1901 to 1906 and Calahorra in Spain where he was a teacher for the second level and learned Spanish (1906-1907). In 1907, Fr. Paul de la Croix was named to New York at 14th Street. The World War mobilized him a first time from August 1914 to March 1915, at which time he was declared unfit for service. He returned to his post in New York serving the Hispanic parish (1915-1916). The army took him a second time (1916-1917). [His draft papers explained that Mr. Paul Journet was declared unfit for military service in virtue of the military law of 1889, but that in time of war, he could be placed in an auxiliary service. Fr. Paul de la Croix effectively was sent to the section of the military infirmary in Marseilles. His dispensation in 1915 was only conditional.] Finally demobilized for good in January 1919, he returned to New York where, having learned enough English, he gave himself to the works of parochial ministry: chaplaincy, preaching, and confessions from 1919 to 1925. A first signal of health problems made him return to Europe and the Mediterranean Midi. He spent the year 1925-1926 resting at Montpellier (Hérault). From 1926 to 1930, he returned for the third time to the U.S.A., again to New York at 14th Street where he was named superior. From 1930 on, he changed community (New York, 156th Street), but not his function since he was named superior there twice (1930 and 1933). In 1934, Fr. Paul de la Croix returned to Europe to take care of his health. After a first stop in England, at Charlton (May 1934), he went to the thermal spa of Bagnoles-de l’Orne (June 1934). Foreseen to strengthen the teaching staff at Lormoy (Essonne), he went to the college at Nîmes in September to teach Spanish and do a bit of ministry with the religious communities. Suffering from an obstruction of the bowel, he was partially paralyzed. He died suddenly the day school began, Wednesday, October 3, 1934, of a lung congestion according to the medical diagnostic. The funeral was celebrated the next day, Thursday, October 4, in the college chapel. The body was placed in the neighboring church of Sainte-Perpétue. The body of Fr. Paul de la Croix was buried in the Assumptionist tomb in the Saint-Baudile cemetery. He himself seemed to sense his future death at Nîmes, since the day that he arrived at the college, September 22, he told his traveling companion, Fr. Jude Verstaen, while in the train that went along the edge of the cemetery from the height of the viaduct: “If I die this year, it is there that you are to bury me”. Fr. Paul did not find in his dear Midi the renewed health that he had hoped for, but he left to all his confreres the souvenir of a religious with a happy and radiant character, looking at things from the positive side and not worrying about the difficulties that a long illness could accentuate.

Addenda.

His ministry was mostly in New York with a few interruptions when he served in the French army during World War I and was twice a convalescent at Montpellier. Before coming to the USA, he was Superior at Zongouldak from 1897 to 1901 and served in Bulgaria and Elorrio before coming to the USA. He was at 14th Street for many years until 1930 and then pastor at Our Lady of Esperanza from 1930 to 1934. He died at Nîmes.  The 75th Jubilee Edition of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish says that he was pastor from 1920 to 1929 and again from 1933 to 1934.

Bagnoles-de-l’Orne, 1934.

“You must know that a heart condition obliged me, on the advice of my doctors, to leave New York. A few days after my arrival in England, ma health was again tried by a serious phlebitis that kept me in bed and forced me to follow a severe diet for more than a month. The religious of Charlton cared for me with the greatest fraternal devotion, even though they had a very active ministry. But after a noticeable amelioration, I had to leave London. The doctor prescribed a stage at Bagnoles-de-l’Orne where he himself was cured after a similar illness. Upon arriving here, Divine Providence guided me to the family boarding house of Villa Saint-François under the direction of Ms. Benque d’Agut, a long time friend and benefactress of the Assumption. She knew all of our old Fathers of rue François Ier: Picard, Bailly, Saugrain, Pernet, Jacquot, Baudouy… When I told her that I was an Assumptionist, she said: ‘In Paris, I am a daughter of the Assumption; here, at Bagnoles, I am your mother’. This boarding house is a former convent of nuns and it has a chapel where six masses are celebrated each day”.

Father Paul Journet was the pastor when the church marked its twenty-fifth anniversary on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12, 1927. Patrick Cardinal Hayes celebrated the jubilee Mass at the magnificent new altar of Carrara marble, surmounted by a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  [75th Jubilee, Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1979, Custombook Inc., 20]

Marie Emile (Emile-Joseph) Ladret

1871-1936

Religious of the Province of Lyons.

A late vocation.

Emile Joseph Ladret was born January 16, 1871 at Lunéville (Meurthe-et-Moselle) in the diocese of Nancy. After his primary studies at Lunéville, he learned the trade of carpentry in his father’s shop with a view to becoming a building contractor. His personal aspirations leaned toward religious life, but his father, François, decided that his son would pursue the family trade. That was why young Emile Joseph had to put off his desire, acquiring much know-how in the practical domain. Once he became an adult, he did six years of military service as a non-commissioned officer. After a few months with his family, he decided to enter the Assumption. Not having done his secondary studies, Emile Joseph was sent to Montfort House, next to Villecomtesse (Yonne) where he tried to complete his intellectual baggage (1894-1896) and where his manual skills were called upon to fix up the buildings. September 4, 1896, he took the habit at Livry (Seine-Saint-Denis) under the name of Brother Marie-Emile. He pronounced his first vows October 29, 1897 and his perpetual vows September 6, 1898. He then went to Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) for his ecclesiastical studies. In 1900, because of the movements of the expulsion, he went to Belgium (Bure and Louvain). He was ordained a priest February 22, 1902 at Malines.

Ministries.

Fr. Marie Emile was first named to teach a year at the Saint-Trond alumnate that received the youth of Saujon (Charente-Maritime). In April 1903, he left for the U.S.A. where he worked in the 14th Street parish (1903-1906). Having returned to Europe, he was named to teach at the Zepperen alumnate in Belgium, which had replaced that of Saint-Trond (1906-1907). The following year, he was asked to go to the Bizet alumnate on the Franco-Belgian lines where he taught until 1914. In August 1914, he was mobilized at Toul. According to Fr. Gustave Ranson, because of his age (44 years), his religious state, and his flat feet, he was sent back home (1915). Meanwhile, the Saint-Maur alumnate was founded in the summer of 1915. The Bizet alumnate was bombed and threatened by destruction. Fr. Gustave Ranson and Fr. Marie Emile were called upon to transfer the furnishings to Saint-Maur, using old transport wagons. Remembering his carpentry trade, Fr. Marie Emile took up plane and jointing plane to help put Saint-Maur in order, since everything had to be done. But in November 1915, he was called back to the army and had to go to the Toul base until Fr. Emmanuel Bailly was able to obtain a permanent discharge for him in November 1917. Once again at Saint-Maur (1917-1923) where he liked to share his military experience, summarized in a laconic expression “do nothing and make reports”, he was called in 1923 to organize the new alumnate being founded at Scy-Chazelles (Moselle). Once more his aptitudes for carpentry were most useful to organize a foundation lacking everything. He called his brother, also a carpenter, to make furniture on the spot. Soon, next to the alumnate, in the property of Scy, the Saint-Jean novitiate was built. Later on, it was to become the philosophy scholasticate for the Province of Lyons. Fr. Marie-Emile, treasurer for the novitiate, continued at the scholasticate in that function. Until the end, regardless of a serious illness that was eating him up, cancer of the intestines, he served by taking care of the property. He died during the night of Thursday, October 29, 1936 at the age of 66, after a long period of suffering and painful treatments. The funeral was celebrated Saturday, October 31, in the presence of his 86-year-old mother, Célestine née Gérard and his brother. He was buried in the cemetery of Scy-Chazelles. Permit me to recall the Latin verses honoring the work with one’s hands: Scalpri salubris ictibus et tunsione plurima, fabri polita malleo.

Addenda.

He was part of the American foundations of 1903-1904, the unsuccessful one at Granby, Massachusetts and the one at Worcester. However, he returned to Europe in 1904 and spent most of his life in the alumnates: Zepperen in Belgium, le Bizet, Saint Maur and Scy in France.

A description without pleasantness.

“As far as information goes concerning Fr. Marie-Émile, I only have those that he gave on the sheet that is included. It is not necessary to send it back to us. You can keep it in your archives. In fact, all that is in it is to be found in the registers: ‘Brother Marie-Émile is totally lacking in his person and manners. He doesn’t seem to be aware of this. Nevertheless, he is a good religious, devoted, never hesitating when there is difficult work to do. He comes from Montfort. His vocation goes back to his infancy but his father blocked it. After his military service, since this young man was an adult, he came to Montfort. His uncultured intelligence can be developed with hard work’. All of this remained true for the rest of his life. His lack of distinction was so great that one would tremble upon seeing him at the altar. We have recommended the soul of Fr. Marie-Émile to the prayers of the community. If his last moments were to be related in a few lines, this would seem sufficient to me. The youth should not think that we are presenting him to them as a model”. (Fr. Élie Bicquemard, 1936.)

Marie Joseph (Joseph-Marie) Laity

1867-1950

Religious of the Province of Paris.

From Morbihan, desirous of missionary life.

Joseph Marie Laity was born May 26, 1867 at Auray (Morbihan). He did his studies with the Brothers at the Institute Saint-Yves d’Auray (1880-1883) and his secondary studies at the minor seminary of Sainte-Anne d’Auray (1883-1887). He then began his philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Vannes. Desirous of a missionary life, at that time he entered the seminary of the Missionaries of Haiti at Pontchâteau (Loire-Atlantique). He was ordained a priest July 5, 1891. Through this society, he was sent to Port-au-Prince, capitol of Haiti, where he was a curate as well as in other localities of the island. Because of health reasons, he had to return to France and asked to be admitted to the Assumption. He took the religious habit at the Livry novitiate January 18, 1900. His baptismal first names were simply reversed and he became Fr. Marie-Joseph. His perpetual profession took place at Louvain January 18, 1901. He was very quickly sent to the foundation of the mission in England (August 14, 1901) where he just stayed six months. In January 1902, he left for North America (U.S.A.) and went to New York and Worcester, where he saw the difficult beginnings of the implantation of an Assumptionist community. A Bible Society, the Protestant Alliance, went to the court on Worship Street for a mandate for his expulsion, because they supposed that he was the ‘head of the Assumptionist Order of the Jesuits’ (sic). The Alliance saw its request refused; this consolidated the position of the Assumptionists. From 1902 to 1904, Fr. Marie-Joseph took part in the search that would end up in the choice of Worcester as the center for the mission. From 1904 to 1907, Fr. Marie-Joseph, having returned to Europe, taught at the Bizet alumnate (Belgium) that was just beginning. From 1907 to 1912, he returned to Worcester. This was followed by his final return to France. From 1912 to 1924, he was at Montpellier (Hérault). In 1924, he went as curate to the parish of Saint-Christophe de Javel (Paris), which had just been turned over to the Assumption. In September 1927, he returned to Montpellier where he stayed until 1947, with a few short interruptions. At the age of 80, he was sent to the rest home at Lorgues (Var) where he died a few years later September 18, 1950 and was buried there.

Personality.

Fr. François-Régis Sérine, his superior at Montpellier, described Fr. Marie-Joseph as “an energetic religious on the apostolic level. His activity at Montpellier and in the region has been considerable by the number of sermons, retreats, and Lenten stations that he preached here and there. Everywhere he goes he has a missionary spirit. Bossuet and the Fathers of the Church were his preferred authors. He took many notes but did not classify them very much. He was a religious who was very pious, faithful to his exercises of piety and to all the readings required by the Rule”. At Lorgues, Fr. Marie-Joseph at first had a difficult time adapting because of his long itinerant missionary life. Fr. Privat Bélard wrote about him: “Fr. Laity came to Lorgues from Montpellier July 23, 1947. He got used to the house very slowly, finding a real time of rest in the company of his brothers. He enjoyed community life and even up to his final days, he underwent fatigue in order to be present for the common exercises at the chapel, refectory, or recreations. He liked to pray his rosary while taking a walk to the Lourdes grotto built on the property. He never went up the stairs without kissing the image of the Sacred Heart that is at the entrance of the floor, upon arriving at the top. Through his patience, his meekness, and his pleasantness, he edified us during these three years. He died peacefully, without any effort, apparently without suffering, just as he had lived and left us the memory of a good and holy religious”.

Addenda.

He was one of the founders of Assumption College in 1904. He was there for the first year and returned in 1907 for another five years. However, much of his time was taken up with preaching retreats in the New England area. (Fr. Armand Desautels)

Montagnac, 1922

“A patriotic and religious feast was held at Montagnac (Hérault), organized by the Association of former students of the school of Fr. d’Alzon and preached by Fr. Laity. With the rousing sound of bugles and drums, the members of the Society went to mass as a body and then proceeded to this ceremony to which the musical Union lent its gracious services. Before the blessing of the standard, Fr. Laity went to the pulpit and using the three words inscribed on the standard: God, family, country, he spoke with a rare talent explaining how this inscription had great moral value for those who understood its meaning. After the mass, the flag was presented in front of the town hall and the Society then went to the school of Fr. d’Alzon followed by an immense crowd that the big yard could barely contain. It is there that a touching ceremony was held. The President, after having tied a black mourning crêpe the new flag, read the names of all the former students who had died or disappeared in the course of the last war. In the evening, around 3 p.m., the Society went to Vespers where, Fr. Laity, spoke from the pulpit on the need for this Association.”

Rev. Fr. Marie-Joseph Laity, a.a., former staff member of Worcester, died at the Assumptionist house of retirement of Lorgues in France. The alumni of the Franco-American clergy will no doubt remember this missionary with his black beard who preached retreats in the various centers of New England and during some six years, who was very well liked, He preached the annual retreat for the students in 1907 and was the special orator when the main building of the College was blessed by Bishop Beaven on 9 May 1912. He returned to France 12 August of the same year. [Assumptionist Fathers Archives: North American Province]

Yvon (Jean-Yves-Marie) Le Floc’h

1889-1975

French religious of the Province of North America.

A life between history and legend.

Jean Yves Marie Le Floc’h was born December 21, 1889 at Guengat (Finistère), of a Breton family of tailors that gave three of its sons to the Assumption. Jean Yves began his secondary studies at the Courtrai alumnate (1903-1904), continued them at Le Bizet (Belgium) from 1904 to 1906, and finished with humanities at Taintegnies (1906-1908). As a novice at Louvain, he took the habit August 28, 1908, after his postulancy at Gempe. This was where he returned to pronounce his first vows August 29, 1909 under the name of Brother Yvon. Improvised infirmarian, later he would narrate, upon the anniversary of the death of one of his confreres, how one could die young at the Assumption: “ He cared for me, I cared for him, he died”. Professed perpetually August 30, 1910, he went to Louvain for his philosophy (1910-1913), having only spent 5 months in military service. Student and disciple of Fr. Merklen, he was part of the generation of Assumptionists with a passion for learning and expressing openly their most personal ideas. An ardent Thomist, he kept a certain independence concerning books, teachers, and doctrines. Besides the questions of faith and an unyielding attachment to the Holy See, he permitted himself to evaluate by himself all the ideas that were presented. He accepted what agreed with his system and set aside without pity all that did not. From that point in time can be dated his idea to set up a file, classifying and filing all the knowledge that he culled according to the articles of the Summa of Saint Thomas. All through his life, he kept a lively intellectual curiosity and a great love of reading. According to the custom of that time, his studies were interrupted by two years of teaching at Bure (1913-1915). He did his theology at Louvain (1915-1919). Brother Yvon was ordained to the priesthood May 12, 1918 by Bishop Legraive.

In the New World.

During 21 years, Fr. Yvon, named to the college in Worcester, taught philosophy and science. With a perfect regularity, faithful as the Breton rock, he lived wound up as a clock, walking in the park with a fixed number of steps. An exemplary religious, he inspired or strengthened numerous priestly or religious vocations, admired for his encyclopedic knowledge and answering any question by taking a small card

from his repertory. The admiration that he enjoyed from his audience did not spare him from the tricks of the youth who, at fixed times, would cry out spontaneously before his ‘home runs’. This brought a distraction and joy to the untroubled course of his arguments. In 1940, he gave over his philosophy chair to Fr. Wilfrid Dufault. From the United States, he went to Canada, and from teaching to Master of novices in Quebec. He added to this, the load of superior for a house filled to capacity with the theology students who followed courses at the major seminary of the city. During nine years, lacking sufficient personnel and in difficult material conditions, he faced his obligations both on the spiritual front and on that of finding the daily bread. More place was needed. Without an architect, he improvised himself as builder and placed all of the religious under the direction of a builder by trade for this task. From the ground up, a chicken coup was built, a convent for the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc, and the Saint Joseph house for the student brothers. These constructions defied the weather and the direction of the novitiate did not suffer, strengthened by his famous principles and matched with the invariable ‘non licet’. A man of silence, at the same time he built a certain golden legend that, just as any legend, was fed by exaggerations and improbabilities taken from the real facts of life. In 1949, he received with joy the news of a new obedience that named him chaplain at the Little Sisters of the Assumption novitiate in Montreal until 1961. Part-time professor at the Bury alumnate (1961-1964), he once more accepted to be superior at Beauvoir for one year before obtaining a well-deserved and relative rest in Sillery in 1965. Another ministry was dear to his heart: the cause of the beatification of Fr. Marie-Clément Staub for which he became the promoter-postulator. This job was not unknown territory for him, since he had already exercised it with the cause of Sister Marie-Cécile of Rome, of the Congregation of Jesus-Mary. The little booklet ‘How the Church Makes Saints’ (Comment l’Église fait les saints) showed his respect for Canon Law. He published a life of Fr. Marie-Clément and was able to bring this cause to the closure of the diocesan examination. Demanding for himself and others, a hard worker, and very meticulous, he accumulated an impressive documentation. Some of his favorite expressions made people laugh: ‘The community does not exist, it is the religious that exist’, an expression that translated in fact his understanding of religious life more as a personal thing than a community or collective thing. Nevertheless, the community enjoyed getting him going and teased him on his manias: the opposite would have hurt his feelings. This was a sign of a good community spirit. With a will power and energy that were indomitable, plus having a good appetite, he manifested a desire to live and this permitted him to surmount the handicaps of old age and even several paralysis attacks. His life and his legend entered into eternity January 9, 1975, at the end of a long existence. With a character that was not ordinary and a very marked personality, Fr. Yvon Le Floc’h left to his confreres a d’Alzonian taste of a spirit that was strong and frank, solid in convictions, energetic in enterprises, and happy to have been able to share with all his joys and hopes for an Assumption that was very alive, on the banks of two continents. At the age of 85, Fr. Yvon died and was buried on Sunday, January 12 in the land he had accepted as his own during more than 50 years.

Addenda.

His two other brothers who were part of the Assumption were: Guillaume, a tailor, (1886-1945) and Jean Louis (1891-1916) who died as a novice and pronounced his vows in articulo mortis. Bro. Yvon received the habit from the hands of Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly. Fr. Yvon was almost maniacal in taking his daily walks ‘to keep the machine running’. He was an inveterate taker of notes that he classified according to the ‘Summa’ of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Golden Jubilee of Priesthood of Fr. Yvon Le Floc’h.

It’s almost unbelievable! A half-century has passed since you became a priest for all eternity. Fifty years! It is little compared to eternity or the history of the world; but it is almost the whole life of an ordinary human being. And when someone has lived, as you have, those fifty years of priesthood with fidelity to God and as a consecrated religious, it is a grace from heaven that is both extraordinary and shared by few priests.

Fifty years have passed since that radiant morning of 12 May 1918 when you fulfilled, in the euphoria of a divine joy, the most beautiful dream of your childhood and with great calm your soul abandoned itself to the wonderful consolations of the One who shared His priesthood with you.

… You have always been a man of Truth, of Truth with a capital ‘T’ and in the deepest sense of this word… You have been a man of prayer…

May the example of your priestly and religious life be a lamp for all of us, your brothers in religious life! May it stimulate the parents who are here and let them be thankful with their children who are thinking of priestly or religious life!

[Fr. Maurice Gagnon, A.A., Canadian Montmartre, 7 December 1968.]

In Memoriam: Father Yvon Le Floc’h.

Having never visited Brittany, I imagine it like Father Yvon, a solid rock. In any case, Father built his life on rock, spiritually, intellectually, and physically.

During his final illness, a partial paralysis that stopped him from speaking distinctly. One day, I asked him his age and I thought that I heard: “89”. “You are 89 years old?” He made a negative sign. “You were born in “89”? and he made a sign for yes with his head…

Since then, his life is made up of history and legend. Until 1919, the date of his arrival in North America, we only have pieces of his life – mostly dates and places – and the beginning of legends. He came from a family of tailors. His brother, Brother Guillaume (deceased in 1945) was a tailor at the Assumption, and another brother who died as an Assumptionist novice had the same talent. …

In 1904, he entered the alumnate of Le Bizet. According to the current legend in our Province, it was 3 years before the creation of the world – since it was in 1907 that Fr. Yvon got the idea from one of his teachers to make files. He had some for everything, all filed according to the articles of the Summa of St. Thomas, as he himself explained in a booklet published for posterity…

He was a novice at Louvain and Gempe during the years that the Congregation lost so many young religious to TB. [ANA , April 11, 1975 , 3-7]

Funeral homily for Fr. Yvon Le Floc’h. January 12, 1975. by Fr. Joseph Loiselle, A.A., Provincial.

Father Yvon had a great appetite. I know what I am talking about. Let me explain. 6 or 7 years ago at table, Fr. Yvon (who accepted to be kidded quite well) had the misfortune to start a sentence saying: “If I die…” To be sure, things did not stay there. I said to him: “If you die and I must preach the homily at your funeral, I’ll start by saying: Fr. Yvon had a great appetite. And Fr. Yvon laughingly remarked: “You are very capable of doing just that.” And so, I just did it. However, I’ll stop there since it would be sad to fix our attention on anecdotes and thus reduce the meaning and example of a whole life to that. With the help of Scripture, my goal is not so much to praise Fr. Yvon, but rather to help is profit from the example that he gave us. He gave us many examples and I’ve chosen three things: he was a man of faith, a man with a living and active faith, and a man whose life gave witness to his faith and religious commitment.

In the first reading, the holy man Job expresses his staunch faith in God, his Protector. Crushed by many trials, abandoned by all, he believes – with hope – that all of this will pass and one day he will see God. This is an admirable faith with depth and firmness. Fr. Yvon had a faith like that.  It was impossible to live with Fr. Yvon without noticing that he lived for the other world. Nothing worldly in him, nothing frivolous, no compromises with the values and satisfactions of the flesh (in the biblical sense). At times we were impatient with him. But we never doubted that he was a man of God. He governed his life with constancy, and I am tempted to say inexorably, in the light of divine truth and of faith. That is what made of him a man of prayer, a man who prayed regularly, who prayer a lot, who prayed unceasingly. Today, we can make a list of all the problems that people need to confront in their Christian life as well as their religious life. I dare say that the most serious problem that is at the root of all others is that we don’t pray enough. Prayer lets us enter into intimacy with the Lord; it lets us see things with the eyes of God and that is already a solution to our problems. Fr. Yvon’s life – a man of faith and prayer – challenges us and tells us that prayer is not a luxury for only those with nothing better to do, but rather the indispensable means to live and walk in faith. Fr. Yvon has now passed into the vision of God and perfect prayer.

In his epistle, St. James warns us that a faith without works is a faith that is dead. It is not enough to say: I believe. It is not enough to have feelings of faith. We must also do works of faith; we need to work. Fr. d’Alzon, our founder, said that an Assumptionist has to work like four… Fr. Yvon was a worker, disciplined and tireless, right up to his last illness. His work was always a work of faith… Fr. Yvon always worked in the name of the Lord: as a teacher at Worcester and Bury, as Superior and Master of Formation, as chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Assumption, as postulator for the cause of Fr. Marie-Clément, as a devoted confessor in this sanctuary during his last years. Without any doubt, all of his students, all of the sisters, this sanctuary, our Assumptionist Province, the Church all benefited greatly from the works of faith of Fr. Yvon. Let our gratitude translate itself in prayer. His life challenges us to work, and to do so with faith. Fr. Yvon has now gone to his eternal rest.

… Fr. Antoine-Phillippe who is of the same generation and also Breton said to me yesterday that Fr. Yvon was always and everywhere an example for his Assumptionist brothers. That confirms the impression that those of us who knew him for a short time also had. Let us admit that his was not an example that was pleasant or capable of being imitated, but he was authentic and admirable. His celibacy was austere, his poverty often strict, and his obedience rigorous. However, this did not stop him from being as stubborn as any good Breton who respects himself. No one ever doubted the authenticity and depth of his religious commitment…

Following the example of Fr. Yvon, let us be men of faith and prayer; may our faith be living and based on works!

The following conclusion to a letter from Fr. Yvon dated at Lasalle, 9 December 1958 to Rev. Wilson Ewin, pastor of the French Canadian Baptist Church of Coaticook, Province of Quebec. Fr. Yvon had written several letters to him previously. This shows the direct and uncompromising style of this fiery Assumptionist.

… Fortunately according to the basic principles of natural morality, ignorance and a lack of freedom excuse the fault. I see in you a certain good will. But the shell of your Protestant traditions (bit by bit) block you from full openness to the truth, and the love of your clan makes you rise up to their defense spontaneously with the risk of lacking loyalty at times.

The true God is not the tyrant of certain Lutheran or Calvinist theses. God is a Father, infinitely just and infinitely merciful.

And I am pleased to affirm it with the hope that you will not overreact; in the Catholic religion, as well in the Orthodox, besides filial trust in God, we have the consolation and the joy of having a Mother in heaven: a perfect woman, immaculate, “full of grace”, Virgin, “Mother of Jesus’ and His brothers and sisters, the Christians.

May her intercession with her divine Son help you!

P.S. Please excuse my directness if I add that you should:

1. Sincerely admit to yourself that you have believed and taught serious errors.

2. Resign from a function that you exercise without a mandate (Acts 15:24) or a formation.

3. Study at least the basic principles of rational morality and the essence of Christian doctrine.

4. Go on a closed retreat. Retract yourself and become a Catholic.

5.       Like St. Paul, Newman, Vernon Johnson etc., place at the service of truth the zeal that you have shown thus far so as to spread dangerous errors.

Father Yvon Le Floc’h arrived 21 August 1940 at the novitiate; he was to be the master of novices until September 1948 and superior until April 1949. On 11 October 1919 he took the ship at the Havre for Worcester where he taught philosophy and other connected courses until he left for Sillery.

Fr. Yvon Le Floc’h had a solid faith, a deep piety and a great supernatural spirit; he was also a man of regularity, silence, and a great enemy of noise; however, he was not morose and accepted willingly to be teased. He had a great intellectual curiosity, classifying his notes according to a plan set up based on the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas. Usually well set in his way of seeing and doing things, he had a good judgment. In short, he was an excellent religious, generous, brave, a bit original.

When Fr. Yvon arrived in Sillery in August 1940, World War II has been going on for a year; France has surrendered in June and the Germans occupy more than half of France, as well as Belgium and Holland. The choir Brothers could no longer go to Europe for philosophy and theology; these will take place in Quebec and this will demand special measures that were taken and well organized by Fr. Yvon.

… From 1940 to 1948, there will be usually 35 religious in the house… A great need that was felt was for more space to lodge more novices, more professed lay Brothers, and the student Brothers.

…Fr. Yvon left Sillery 29 April 1949: he was named chaplain for the Little Sisters of the Assumption at Ville La Salle, near Montreal; he stayed there 12 years. In July 1961, he was named to teach at d’Alzon College, in Bury. In September 1964, he went to Beauvoir as superior; he only stayed one year because of his health when he returned to Sillery; it was there that he died 9 July 1975. (Les Assomptionnistes au Canada, Yves Garon, a.a., Sillery, 1997, 49-55)

He did his theology at Louvain from 1915 to 1918.

Roland (Jules-César) Leroy

1885-1962

French religious of the Province of North America.

Formation time.

Jules César Leroy was born January 29, 1885 at Blandecques, a tiny village close to Saint-Omer (Pas-de-Calais). Alumnist at Sainghin (North) from 1898 to 1901 and at Taintegnies in Belgium from 1901 to 1903, he began his novitiate at Louvain October 18, 1903, the day that he took the religious habit under the name of Brother Roland. He made vows for a year November 13, 1904 at Jerusalem and studied philosophy in the Holy City (1905-1907). He was sent to the college in Worcester (U.S.A.) as a choir brother where he taught from 1907 to 1910 and made his final vows June 18, 1908. In 1910, Brother Roland returned to Jerusalem for theology under the direction of Frs. Gabriel Jacquemier and Léopold Dressaire (1910-1913) Like his companions, he served occasionally as a guide for the pilgrims who came from many countries to visit the Holy Land and lodge at the hotel of Notre-Dame de France. Having acquired quite a mastery of the English language, he accompanied the English groups from Jericho to Galilee. Brilliant talker and very knowledgeable of the biblical topography, he was appreciated for this service. Father Roland was ordained a priest at Jerusalem by Bishop Camassei  13 July 1913 and did his fourth year of theology in Rome at the Angelicum with the Dominicans. He was again sent to teach at the college in Worcester with no interruption from 1914 until his death in 1962.

A Frenchman in America.

Having been named professor and gifted with good pedagogical qualities, Fr. Roland taught the classic letters in the classes of 5th and 4th levels. In 1924, a throat operation touched his vocal chords and forced him to only give courses now and then. He was given Greek and general history to teach in the upper levels at this time. He quickly acquired a remarkable mastery of these two subjects that he continually improved by very extensive readings. On top of this, he became the general monitor for the older students. Because of this involvement with the life of the students, he got to know and accompany a good number of generations of students. Good natured and patient, he knew how to shut his eyes on the escapades of youth and never, or almost never, got angry. Loved and respected, he was nicknamed ‘Daddy’. Of the father or the daddy, he had at the same time the concern, indulgence, and tenderness. He willingly took for his own the motto of Abbé Huvelin: “I would like to be so good that you could say: if such is the servant, how much more is the master!” Because of his voice, Fr. Roland was not able to do weekend parish ministry like the majority of his confreres. Instead, he did humble tasks. He was the devoted chaplain of the Sisters of Notre-Dame of Namur in their convent at Plantation Street and also went for Sunday mass to the hospital for the indigent sick on Lincoln Street. Many religious communities called upon him for confessions and spiritual direction. Until 1953, he collaborated faithfully to the college magazine, ‘L’Assomption’, especially by writing a chronicle of the alumni. In 1956, the college section moved from the Greendale hill to a new site, in the West of the city. Fr. Roland remained at the first site of the school and was part of the community of the Preparatory School. A pleasant companion with whom to live and a hard worker, he kept his good humor and smile, even in the painful days of illness and old age. He remained a voracious reader. This permitted him to deal with a forced isolation. He died April 26, 1962 at the age of 78 at Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, of a cerebral hemorrhage. Already threatened with paralysis and being diabetic, he had bravely handled the amputation of his right leg, because of gangrene. He was buried in Worcester.

Addenda.

In 1917, after philosophy, he began his military service in a camp in the North near the Belgian border. After a few weeks, he found the atmosphere so immoral that he had a crisis of conscience. As a result, he went AWOL. This move would prevent him from returning to France for many years [until the age of 54]. While still a brother, he was sent to Worcester. His second year of novitiate was in Jerusalem.

In 1907, at the end of his philosophy, he had been drafted for military service and he lived in an army barrack in the North of France near the Belgian lines. After a few weeks of this military life, he felt that this very corrupt milieu was not beneficial to his soul. At that moment he took a solution that would weigh down his future and become for him a burdensome trial of which he only rarely mentioned to his closest friends. He fled from the barracks and became AWOL feeling that otherwise he would lose his vocation and his soul. He had foreseen the consequences of this decision. He knew that in the eyes of men, he would be seen as a coward, a quitter, a traitor, a deserter, but he preferred listening to the voice of God and supernatural interests rather than the judgment of men. He knew that because of this very painful gesture, he would not be able to return to his country or visit his family until the age of 54. Nevertheless, he never regretted what he had done and knew that he would do the same thing again in the same circumstances. The judgment of men was unimportant for him. Before God, we can be sure that this was a truly heroic action on his part and worthy of praise before God. (Funeral sermon by Fr. Polyeucte Guissard, A.A., May 31, 1962).

Letter from P. Gélase (Uginet), Adrianople-Kara-gatch, 1st June 1908.

The Very Rev. Father Emmanuel (Bailly) asked me to let you know that he accepts Fr. Roland Leroy for perpetual vows and delegates you to receive them. We are at Adrianople since last night at 11:00 and even though I am setting foot in Bulgaria and Adrianople for the first time, I won’t describe the country: the Turks haven’t changed. I realize that you have known them first hand.

Notes by Fr. Marius Dumoulin.

God has just taken Fr. Roland Leroy. He died April 26 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, of a stroke that did him in within a few minutes, while the nurse had stepped out for just a few moments. A few days before, he had received Extreme Unction after a double attack of paralysis that had seemed under control with no after effects. Already since 15 years, Father had diabetes and an enlarged heart. These had forced him to gradually reduce all activity. Three years ago (1959), gangrene obliged an amputation of his right foot below the knee, and last February (1962), the same operation took his left foot. He had thus become severely handicapped.

… Always a pleasant companion, Fr. Roland’s long illness never did away with his good humor and he always received his Brothers in his room with a ready smile. Right to the end, he was an avid reader of books and it was no doubt the secret that let him deal with his forced isolation without any complaint during his last years. When he was found unconscious in his chair at the hospital, he was still holding in his two hands the book that had been his last companion here below. He was transported in his bed and died a few minutes after without regaining consciousness.

Fr. Roland left the example of an excellent religious, a hard worker, and a pleasant companion. His goodness certainly opened up for him the arms of the Father whose name is Love and who enfolds His children in His merciful love.

Notes by Fr. Richard Richards from ASITWAS, January-February-March 2002.

In 1941, Father Roland Leroy was the proctor of the College dormitory where I slept. He taught me classical Greek for two years. And he taught European history. We admired him because he didn’t reduce it to the history of France. And we liked the fact that he taught in English, with English textbook, unlike others who used only French books. We knew that Father Roland was interested in us, and we liked him so much that we nicknamed him “Daddy.”

… A throat operation in 1924 affected his vocal chords, to the point where he was given only College Greek and history to teach. The classes were smaller and quieter. He read voraciously to prepare these courses and became a very good prof. I know; I had him for two years of Greek and European history. He was also the proctor of our college dorm. Now and then we would do something that made him angry. He’d storm out of his room grumbling, mumbling, and gesticulating. But the anger would soon pass and he never held a grudge. He was always ready to make allowances for the over-exuberance of the youngsters with whom he lived. He loved them and they loved and respected him.

… Until 1953, Fr. Roland was the one who wrote the “Alumni Chronicles” for the Assumption College magazine. He kept in constant contact with the alumni, some of whom he had known for decades.

Father Roland is a veteran of Assumption in Worcester. He taught there as a scholastic from 1907 to 1910, them as a priest, he was stationed there all his life. A throat operation performed in 1924 obliged him to give up his teaching almost entirely, but he was an excellent monitor, understanding of students. He was surely one of those most appreciated by the alumni who knew him. He was buried at the Prep School cemetery. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Tarcisio (Gaspar) Lorente Madorran

1915-1999

Religious of the Province of Spain.

Formation on both sides of the Pyrenees.

Gaspar Lorente Madorran was born in Calahorra in Old Castille (Spain) January 6, 1915. Two days after his birth, he was baptized in the Santiago Apostol parish. In his early years, he went to the San Valentin School under the direction of the Christian School Brothers. In September 1927, recruited by, Fr. Julian Garcia, another calahorran, he visited the Elorrio alumnate in the Basque country. He studied there until 1931, under the devoted care of Fr. Fortuné Badaroux. The times were difficult for the clergy and religious during this period of the anticlerical Republic. With his fellow student, Pedro Antonanzas, he went to the French novitiate of Nozeroy (Jura) where, under the name of Brother Tarcisio, because of devotion to this young martyr of the Eucharist, he took the religious habit in October 1931 and pronounced his first vows October 5, 1932. This was followed by two years of philosophy at Scy-Chazelles (Moselle) from 1932 to 1934. He then studied theology at the Lormoy scholasticate (Essonne). His studies were interrupted by the civil war in Spain. He was ordained to the priesthood during his third year of theology, in Paris, December 17, 1938. Until the end of the civil war, his first priestly ministry was as a military chaplain for the soldiers.

A priest among people, in Europe and America.

Once peace was established in 1940, Fr. Tarcisio was able to start his pastoral ministry in Madrid. This ministry was at Puente de Vallecas, in the suburb of Doña Carlota, at the parish of Dulce Nombre de Maria where the pastor had been executed during the confrontations. The Assumptionist community was set up. He had for confreres: Frs. Luis Madina, Ignacio Garcia, Pedro Frias, and Eduardo Arroniz. Fr. Tarcisio kept a strong and pleasant memory of this first passage in Madrid: he worked with the underprivileged youth of the poor sectors and others, he improvised himself as teacher, director of a youth club, chaplain, and founder, with Fr. Luis Madina, of the Ciudad de los muchachos. In 1951-1952, he became superior of the Elorrio alumnate. He inculcated his young students with the Assumptionist spirit: a spirit of freedom, creativity, and responsibility in an educational climate centered on faith. In 1952, he was named superior and pastor of the San Francisco Javier de Horta parish (Barcelona), in the section of Casas Baratas, another sector for the poor. Like at Madrid, he gave himself totally to the apostolate in a world full of life: groups of men, of women caring for the sick and poor, the parish choir, a school for altar boys, battles with the diocesan Caritas agency so that help would reach the poor of the parish. Barcelona was his residence until 1954. After a brief passage in Madrid, he sailed for Argentina where he took part in the missionary work of greater Buenos Aires. He was part of the communities of Belgrano and Santos Lugares until 1963, the year of his return to Spain. He took over the spiritual direction of the boys of the Ciudad de los muchachos. From there, he went again to the parishes of Dulce Nombre de Maria, San Felipe Neri, and La Estrella. In 1979, he left for New York where he devoted himself to the Hispanos of both Assumptionist parishes: Guadalupe and Esperanza. In 1988, the year of his golden jubilee of ordination, he started an apostolate in Mexico in the San Barnabé parish where he gave himself over to the most needy as always, by forming lay collaborators for the priestly mission. It was there that illness visited him. This forced him to cease all activity and return to Spain. In 1991, he went to the Madrid community of Reina del Cielo, then to that of Leganès. During several years, he went to the regular medical consultations presenting himself as a missionary who was only temporarily in Madrid because of illness and insisting on the fact that he had to return to the San Barnabé mission. But the years had weakened him and he had to face reality. He perceived that he didn’t have much time to wrap up the loose ends of his life. He asked to live at Elorrio: Elorrio was the cradle of my vocation and it is there that I want to finish my life. The Lord took him at his word on Thursday, April 22, 1999, the day that he crossed over into eternity, after three final weeks during which he was put to the test. He was only hospitalized for a day. Fr. Tarcisio reposed in the cemetery of Elorrio after his funeral was celebrated in the college chapel Friday, April 23. The Priests’ vault at Elorrio contains the remains of Frs. or Brothers Sebastian Fernandez (1914-1968), Tomas Marcaide (1910-1978), Luis Gortazar (1925-1981), and Miguel Langreo (1902-1995). Fr. Victor Blanco was able to evoke the figure of the ‘lil’ father with the flute’ who, in the desire of a born catechist, knew how to assemble in Mary’s love, already at Madrid, the children with nothing, those of the streets and the after-war, to give them a taste of the bread of faith, sharing, and friendship, the three other names of the immense love that he had for the one who is Life. The figure of Fr. Tarcisio brings to mind that of his friend and confrere, Fr. Luis Madina: he shared in the worries of Father Luis in Madrid and collected funds for the work of Mi Casa.

Addenda.

Barcelona, 1954.

“I have the honor of having received the last circular # 18 on the centenary of the decree of praise of our dear Congregation, and we read it immediately in the community. Our tiny community of Barcelona continues its work in this big and beautiful city that you visited already five years ago with a guide lacking experience. I think that I have made some progress since then. The San Francisco Javier parish is growing. A new parish has been set up where there was not even one house when you visited. In other sectors, they are building on a large scale. We are negotiating to obtain permission to enlarge our parish church, since it is not sufficient with the 5 or even 6 Sunday masses. The community, now reduced to 3 Fathers, is not brilliant as far as health is concerned. Fr. Miguel Berrueta, after being forced to leave South America for health reasons, does what he can here, even though his illness progresses. I have just had an operation for a double hernia. All went well and I am recuperating bit by bit”.

(Fr. Tarcisio.)

Death of Fr. Tarcisio Lorente, A.A.  [ANA, April-May 1999,12-13].

On his birthday, the feast of the Epiphany, Father Tarcisio was suffering from the flu, which kept him in bed for a few days. He perhaps left his bed prematurely, but we already knew that it was unlike Father to remain quiet. He regained his normal pace although considerably weaker. And the winter had not allowed Father to take his usual walks outdoors. He continued his regime of retiring early, rising at dawn to celebrate Mass and then to rest in accordance with his schedule.

His situation began to deteriorate noticeably during the last three weeks. For the Easter Vigil which was celebrated in the convent of the ‘Madres Dominicas’ at 10:00 in the evening, arrangements were made for us to travel by car – father Went on foot, arriving two hours early. The celebration lasted another two hours. As anticipated, he returned tired. The days following he was mumbling incoherently and it was thought that he probably had a cold and so, on Easter Sunday, we took Father to see the doctor. Father returned a week later for a consultation and the doctor said that he would continue with the treatment and that he should be kept informed of Father’s condition. We noticed a physical as well as a mental deterioration. A decline in mental alertness and awareness became more and more evident – becoming disoriented, confused about the time of day and not always knowing where he was.

From day to day Father was losing ground and during the second week of Easter we began to maintain nightly vigils to prevent him from wandering off in the night or falling down the stairs (He had been walking with the aid of two canes). We would accompany him to the dining room and to the chapel (in spite of everything, Father kept asking what time was community prayer). Already on Monday and Tuesday of the third week of Easter, Father spent most of the time in his room and we were obliged to monitor him during the day. It became difficult for him to stand, even to speak.

On the morning of Wednesday, April 21, we brought the doctor to the house. He suspected something more than a general weakened condition, that there possibly be some cerebral complications and therefore, urged us to take him to the hospital immediately. We did just that. While we were helping Father dress for the trip, he was unable to stand and his speech was slurry. He was taken to the hospital emergency room where they conducted a battery of tests, x-rays, scans, lumbar punctures, etc. The hospital authorities told us that they would continue with various tests but did warn us that they had detected signs of pre-existent blood-clots on the brain and more recently, meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and one lung filled with fluid. Furthermore, given Father’s age and because his medical records indicated he had incurred previous heart damage, his condition was deemed critical. The doctors said he had but a few hours to live. The hospital was unable to state whether the meningitis was a viral infection (apparently it is not uncommon during the springtime) or if it was related to the pulmonary complications. They admitted Father and administered antibiotics and waited (without too much hope) for signs of improvement. Hooked up to oxygen and various intravenous bottles, Father did not last more than 24 hours and remained in a coma throughout that time. Fr. Tarcisio died at 6:00 p.m. of that same day, Wednesday, April 21.

On Friday, April 23, we celebrated his funeral service here in the community chapel with the coffin lying at the foot of the altar. At 7:00 p.m., religious of his and other communities as well as some laypersons sang the Vespers for the deceased. At 7:45 p.m. the Paschal Eucharist was celebrated in white. Concelebrants were: Provincial, Father Manuel Martinez, Carlos del Rio, Ramón Pamplona, José Antonio Echaniz, Victor González, Niceto Calle, Enrique Goiburu, Miguel Iriarte, and two priests from the parish. Also present were Assumptionist brothers Pedro Fuentes, José Alberto Dominguez and Francisco Camino. The chapel overflowed with students, professors and friends. Present were Father’s nephews from Elda (with whom he had the closest ties) and friends from the neighborhood as well as from Plasencia-Soraluze. His brother Ezechiel, who lives in Calahorra, was unable to attend nor was his son who wanted to attend but had to care for his parents… And so, after the celebration of a family Eucharist in an atmosphere of thanksgiving and Easter joy, Father Tarcisio was laid to rest in the cemetery at Elorrio, in the pantheon of the priests, next to four other Assumptionists: Fathers Sebastian Fernández and Luís Gortázar and brothers Tomas Marcaide and Miguel Langro.

Luis Madina

1911-1984

Spanish religious belonging to the Region of Colombia (South Belgium).

Formation.

Born August 18, 1911 in San Sebastian (Spain), Luis Madina received his secondary education at the alumnate in Elorrio (1922-28).  He entered the Assumptionist novitiate at Scy-Chazelles (Moselle) in 1928 and took his first vows November 1, 1929.  Fr. Savinien Dewaele appreciated his generous devotedness and noted that the brother was working to overcome a strong susceptibility.  Luis studied philosophy in Saint Gérard, Belgium, from 1929 to 1931 and theology in Louvain and Lormoy (Essonne), France, from 1931 to 1934.  Perpetually professed November 1, 1932, he was greatly interested in music and psychology throughout his studies.  Ordained a priest in Versailles (Yvelines) June 29, 1935, he began his apostolic life as a teacher at the alumnate of Cavalerie (Dordogne) from 1935 to 1937, then at the scholasticate in Layrac (Lot-et-Garonne) from 1937 to 1938, and in Basque country, at Elorrio, starting in 1938.  He was treasurer of the community from 1939 to 1942.

A champion of the social apostolate for children on all continents.

It was in the social apostolate that Fr. Luis found his way in life and showed all what he was capable of doing.  He began this work in Spain, which emerged scathed and isolated from the bloody confrontations of its civil war.  From associate pastor in Madrid, he became pastor and superior at Puente de Vallecas in January 1944, founding his first “Ciudad de los Muchachos” in the underprivileged area of Vallecas, on the periphery of the Spanish capital.  He modeled his project of integral child development on the experience of Father Flanagan (Boys’ Town, Nebraska) and Anton Makarenko, who both advocated self-education and self-reliance on the part of a child regarding his own future.  Naturally gifted with a great sense of initiative, and well-thought of by ecclesiastical authorities, he gave his undertaking a very personal touch, which caused him a number of difficulties within the community.

In 1953, Fr. Luis was back in Elorrio, the social work in Madrid taken over by the other Spanish religious within the framework of the then-Province of Bordeaux.  In 1954, Fr. Luis changed environment.  He was sent to New York where he served in the Spanish-speaking Assumptionist parishes of Our Lady of Esperanza and Our Lady of Guadalupe.  He had, among other things, a radio program called Luz por las ondas (Light on the airwaves) in which he tried to evangelize and promote the social welfare of Hispanics.

In1958, he moved to Costa Rica in Central America where he organized a program of education for poor young boys, linking the efforts of the Church with those of the government.  Little by little, he built a Boys’ Town in Cartago, the country’s most important program for children.  The Augustinian Recollect Fathers took over the work in 1964 because globetrotting Father Luis left for Panama to found a similar work.  However, he was not able to stay very long because the climate in Panama did not agree with him.  He turned the work over to the Somascan Fathers.

Finally, in 1968, Fr. Luis opened his fourth Boys’ Town in Cali, Colombia.  The Provincial of the Little Sisters in Colombia put him in contact with Bishop Uribe Urdaneto.  The boys were taken from the street and rapidly filled the first house on Carrera Quinta Road.  In 1970, the installation moved to Melendez, on a large ranch where, little by little, Fr. Luis organized a boarding school and developed a style of family living, with the help of a Belgian volunteer, Miss Froidmont, who was called “Mami,” while he was called “Papi.” In 1984, there were 120 boarders and 700 day-students.  A man of deep faith, Fr. Luis often relied on Divine Providence for the financial operation of the institution: “Until now, God has never abandoned me.  He has rescued me from all my difficulties, which have been neither small nor few.”

Suffering from a brain tumor, and almost blind, Fr. Luis died of a coronary thrombosis November 16, 1984.  His funeral was celebrated the following day in Cali.  The local press gave extensive coverage to the work of Fr. Luis whose body lies in the chapel of Mi Casa. Today, the institution is called El Centro Educativo Industrial Luis Madina in honor of its founder.  Fr. Victor Blanco is its chaplain.

Addenda.

Information about the “Ciudad de los Niños” (Boy’s Town) Cartago, Costa Rica.

The “Ciudad de los Niños”, situated in Aguacaliente of Cartago, Costa Rica, is a nationally sponsored project of general public interest that has been approved and ratified by a special law passed by the National General Assembly of Costa Rica (No. 2720, Feb. 16th, 1961, Gaceta). An official contract, signed by both governmental and ecclesiastical authorities on July 29th, 1960, insures its existence and development.

It offers a home, educational facilities, medical care and whatever a boy needs for the normally-balanced development of his personality. It is an orientation school and caters to boys who are totally or partially abandoned or destitute, whether physically (orphans, poverty) or morally (bad environment, broken homes). The all-englobing plan of this gigantic endeavor considers possibilities of housing some 2,000 boys within a relatively short space of time. Such a plan has duly been given the adequate propaganda for the past four years through conferences, lectures, newspaper releases and reports, personal contacts, campaigns, etc., but only in Costa Rica and Panama so far.

Actually, the building program was initiated in 1961. The Institution now enjoys the comfort of seven (7) modern-equipped buildings or pavilions; six of them are to be used solely as dormitories. For the time being, one of these future dormitories is being occupied for chapel, recreation-hall, dining-hall, kitchen. infirmary, bookstore, soda and administration purposes. It measures 63 meters in length. The seventh building is a complete Grammar School in three wings, with its eight (8) large classrooms, its Administration section, its Assembly Hall and its bath facilities.

These buildings cover but a fraction of the beautifully located 180-manzana (or 320 acres) property owned by the Institution through legacy. In due time, some sixty (60) edifices will dot the whole surface of this haven; varied playgrounds, swimming pools and gardens have been foreseen in the approved plans.

Of necessity, due to the naturally hard beginnings of such an enterprise, we must use buildings and fields for provisional purposes. For instance, the available land “ear-marked” for future construction is being exploited agriculturally and for dairy products. As this Boys Town develops, it can also count upon another large property that has been bequeathed to the institution; cattle-raising, chicken-farming, fruit-treeplanting, etc., will be possible, providing inversion-funds can be obtained, thus insuring the income of many basic food products later on.

At present, some 162 boys are being succored here. The Grammar School is being directed by the Ministry of Education like any other public school. We send some boys to a local Vocational School, others to an ordinary High School, and we run an Apprentice center, introducing still others in various arts & crafts, such as general mechanics, carpentry, shoe-repairing, bakery, etc. We intend to have full-fledged Vocational and High Schools in due time.

The age bracket of the “so to speak” pioneers can be divided as follows:

50 boys between 7 & 10 years old

50 boys between 10 & 12 years old

44 boys between 12 & 15 years old

18 boys between 15 & 20 years old.

Plans foresee the admission of some 200 boys (additional) each year

This Institution is being supported in part by the government but mostly by private organizations and by campaigns. As it is so often the case with Institutions of such scope and breadth, the budgets are always too tight; hence the economical problems remain acute and constantly actual.

The social apostolate of children’s towns.

“ I was pastor at Madrid and the parish was called ‘little Russia’, 25,ooo inhabitants, about ten at mass. In the streets, I saw the children move. No daddy: he had been shot or was in prison. I told myself: “Are you the pastor for 10 persons?” I opened a house, a children’s town. When it works, I go elsewhere. Each person has his own disposition: mine, it is launching. My last one was in Panama. One day, going through Bogota, someone suggested that I meet the archbishop of Cali. At once, he spoke to me of the ‘gamines’ (Spanish pronunciation). ‘Gamin’, that’s Colombian! The ‘gamin’. That’s the child who lives in the streets. He sleeps in the street, he eats there. That’s his house. The Colombian gamin has no longer any contact with his family; he has broken off all contact. They live in ‘gallada’, that’s the group, the band. It is there that they find something that resembles a family. In Colombia, most women have no real husband. The first one takes off and leaves her with two or three children; this bothers her since it would force her to work hard and stop drinking; and then the woman is not as pretty any more. The abandoned one finds another man...”.

François Xavier (Félix) Marchet

1872-1933

Religious of the Province of Bordeaux.

A Burgundian on the roads of the world.

Félix Marchet was born at Dijon (Côte d’Or) April 25, 1872. He did his secondary studies at the Saint-Ignace College in his city (1880-1889) and spent a year in the minor seminary of Plombières (Vosges) from 1889 to 1900. He entered the Saint-Sulpice seminary at Issy-les-Moulineaux (Hauts-de-Seine) for two years of philosophy (1890-1892) and two years of theology (1892-1894). He then completed his theology in Rome at the French seminary (1894-1898). He was ordained a priest August 17, 1897. Fr. Emmanuel Bailly introduced him to the Assumptionist spirit during a preached retreat (1896). Félix presented himself as a postulant at the Assumptionist novitiate of Livry at the end of 1898 and took the religious habit, January 18, 1899 under the name of Father François-Xavier. In 1900, the expulsions sent the 36 novices and 6 postulants of that time onto the routes of Europe: Gemert, Louvain. He was perpetually professed January 18, 1901, and was already requisitioned to teach dogma and moral theology. He was asked to save Notre-Dame des Châteaux (Savoie) by being incorporated by Bishop Lacroix into the diocese of Tarentaise. He battled with the tribunal right to the end, but to no avail. December 20, 1903, he had to leave the old sanctuary for Mongreno, next to Turin, where he taught until 1906. He was named pastor of Clairmarais (Pas-de-Calais), living in the house of Sister ‘Truche’ (1906-1919) with an interruption of two years during which time he taught at the college in Worcester, U.S.A. (1908-1910). In 1910, he was detached for a time to work for the Apostolate of the Sea during the fishing season of the Newfoundlanders. He was mobilized in 1916 and sent to the auxiliary infirmary services at Bourges. In 1908, we find him at the Charolles hospital (Saône-et-Loire) where he was treated for the Spanish flu. Cared for by the Religious of Nevers, he wrote a life of St. Bernadette. After the Armistice, he was discharged and, during the retreat held at Athis-Mons, chosen by Fr. Joseph Maubon for the house in Argentina. He set sail in 1919 and returned in 1921. At that time, he was asked to go to Jerusalem where he was able to give himself to the study of Palestinian archeology. He published a very controversial study on the true site of Caiaphas’ palace and the church of Saint Peter of Cock Crow. While there, he became a guide for pilgrims and travelers who lodged at the hotel of Notre-Dame de France. The French officers of the occupation army in Syria especially appreciated him. At Jerusalem, he lived with Fr. Joseph Maubon. His health seemed vigorous. Fr. François-Xavier lived in numerous latitudes, but his years of activity were stopped by an obstruction of the bowel that had at first been neglected and thought to be something that would pass. This health problem would soon reveal itself to be serious. He was not too worried, having been for a long time constipated, but the intestinal complications took a new turn in December 1932. A medical consultation having been put off for too long, followed by an X-ray with a merciless verdict, prescribed urgent surgery to free up the colon. Dr. Roux, on December 22, operated Father the first time. This was followed by two more operations in the month of January. It was clearly too late. Fr. François-Xavier died Sunday, January 29, 1933 at the age of 61, after a long period of suffering admirably endured. He was buried the following Tuesday, January 31, in the grottoes of Saint Peter of Cock Crow. He left a sister living in Haute-Savoie (Thonon) and a brother, a Jesuit, missionary in Madagascar (Fianarantsoa). This learned religious with a very apostolic heart who was a pleasant companion had come to the Assumption once his formation was finished. He possessed a vast sociability. The numerous letters received expressing their sadness upon the announcement of his death reflected this.

Addenda.

Father Xavier was in Worcester one year, 1909-1910. When the Congregation was legally banned from France in 1900, we tried to keep some houses opened. It did not succeed for the alumnate of Notre-Dame des Châteaux, the very first alumnate created by Father d’Alzon in 1871. That is where Father Xavier was stationed when all the religious of the house were condemned by the French tribunals, and forced to exile to Italy. He served in the armed forces during World War I. Later, he went to Argentina and ended up in Jerusalem. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Buenos Aires, 7 June 1919.

“I received a cable from my oldest brother announcing the death of my mother, only a year after the death of my father. Now I am completely an orphan: God’s will be done! I am happy to be a son of the Assumption. I was received as a real brother at Buenos Aires by all of ours. There is a true family spirit here. I want to thank you for having placed me here. I hope that I won’t be an obstacle to the development and extension of the beautiful works that promise for the future to reap many souls. Beautiful projects are in the works. The innumerable population of Buenos Aires, very poor as far as religious instruction is concerned, is like the Samaritan woman who pleaded with the Lord. In the city, you need people; the field for souls is as vast as the neighboring pampas. One only has to throw out seeds by the handful. A vocation presented itself 8 days ago asking me to organize an Argentinean Christmas with numerous collaborators and sponsors. I started a course of instruction for young girls brought by the Little Sisters. I admire the work of our Fathers at Belgrano in the midst of underprivileged people…”

Rodolphe (Léon René) Martel

1886 – 1978

Religious of the Province of Paris.

Biography.

Born December 17, 1886, in Thiennes, in the canton of Hazebrouck (Nord), Léon René Martel studied at the alumnates of Arras (Pas-de-Calais) and Taintegnies, Belgium, from 1898 to 1903, before entering the novitiate in Louvain in October 1903.  He received the Assumptionist habit October 18, 1903, from Fr. Roger des Fourniels under the name of Brother Rodolphe.  He made his first vows July 13, 1904.  His master of novices, Fr. Benjamin Laurès, wrote concerning him: “Brother Rodolphe had a good novitiate year, even if, by temperament, he is rather easy-going.  He is intelligent, supernatural, and very open, though sometimes too familiar.”  Again in Louvain, Brother Rodolphe studied philosophy (1905-08), made his final profession June 7, 1907, and studied theology for two years (1910-12), after teaching two years at the alumnate in Bure (1908-10).  Though he started his theology in Louvain, he continued it in Jerusalem, where he was ordained a priest July 13, 1913, and finished it in Rome (1913-14).

Since Fr. Rodolphe had the makings of a teacher, he was assigned accordingly: professor of apologetics in Louvain (1914), professor of rhetoric[1] in Taintegnies (1915), professor at the novitiate in Louvain (1916-17), professor of philosophy in Louvain (1917-19), and professor of humanities[2] in Vinovo, Italy (1919).

In 1920, leaving the old continent, he was first sent to Bergerville-Sillery in Quebec City, but was quickly assigned to Assumption College in Worcester, where he taught from 1920 to 1929.   He returned to Bergerville in 1929, only to return to the community in Worcester as its superior from 1935 to 1946.

He crossed the Atlantic to take charge of the community in Arras (Pas-de-Calais) from 1946 to 1949.  Then in 1949, Fr. Rodolphe was appointed superior of the college in Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales), a position he held for 6 years (1949-55), before becoming its spiritual advisor until 1961.  From 1962 to 1978, still very active, he was chaplain to the Orants of the Assumption in Le Vigan (Gard).

An excellent teacher, a dynamic superior, a well-appreciated preacher, and a man concerned about spiritual formation and the discernment of vocations, which were numerous in Worcester at that time, Fr. Rodolphe accepted in faith his sometimes-difficult obediences and a true readaptation upon his return to Europe at age 60.  Fr. Rodolphe died in the hospital of Mende (Lozère) July 26, 1978, at the age of 92.  He was buried in the cemetery in Chanac (Lozère).

A full life.

“One day I asked Fr. Rodolphe to write his own curriculum vitae. He answered me, with all of his characteristic assertiveness, that it was God’s business because He knew his life.  I remain impressed by his productive existence.  I have always found it difficult to retrace in a few pages the broad outline of the life of a priest or of a religious because it hides so much misery, suffering, greatness, and grace!  The first years of Fr. Rodolphe’s life in Louvain coincided with the beginning of the century.  Particularly important were his 26 years at Assumption College in Worcester, first as a teacher, then as superior.  Upon his return to France, he became the superior of the orphanage in Arras before going to the college in Perpignan.  Finally, he ended his life in Fr. d’Alzon’s family residence as chaplain to the Orants of the Assumption, where he left a deep impression….

Assumption College in Worcester sent him a fraternal message on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 1963:

‘Fond of the liturgy and solidly pious, Fr. Rodolphe enhanced our ceremonies and choral office with his rich voice.  His zeal for the beauty of the house of God led him to construct our magnificent chapel dedicated to Christ the King.  It remains the best testimony to his activity.  A conscientious spiritual director and a sought-after preacher, this venerable person remains engraved in the memory of those who benefited from his spiritual teaching.  His strong personality left an indelible mark on our community, which, thanks to him and his former students, was able to adapt itself to the new demands without losing the treasure of our family traditions.’

Fr. Rodolphe was a man of spiritual action and formation.  Up to the date of his departure in 1946, Assumption College in Worcester had produced some 157 priests!  The members of his family have stated that, during his student years, he had asked to become a Carthusian…”

Addenda .

Letter to Fr. Robert Fortin, A.A. from a niece, Ms. C Dubrulle dated 23 August 1878.

You have learned of the death of Fr. Rodolphe Martel at the Mende Hospital (Lozère) on 26 July 1978 where he was being treated since two weeks after a terrible illness that had struck him in August 1977. He recuperated, but the illness took him away. He was retired at the Christ-Roi House in Chanac since about a year…

Let me tell you that the Superior of Chanac gave me a copy of the talk by Fr. Odilon Dubois at the time of his leaving the College in 1946. I also have e magazines of “Je maintiendrai” of May, June-July, August 18=938 with a report of his Silver Jubilee with 2 of his classmates.

He was very discreet concerning information on himself.

Another letter dated 15 October 1978 by his niece.

If I have written to ask you for details of his life, it is because he was very attached to the College in Worcester. He often spoke of this college, of how modern it was. How many times he told us that we were 50 years behind the United States.

Letter of Fr. Robert Fortin to Fr. Rodolphe Martel’s niece dated 3 October 1978.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find many details concerning Fr. Rodolphe Martel’s trip in 1963. The college alumni remember him with much affection for his numerous years as professor, then superior and had him come to the USA so that they could thank him. The dinner was held in the gymnasium decorated for the occasion. I was unable to find the program for the celebration and the speech given on this occasion. However, the article that I am sending speaks of it; Father Rodolphe handwrote it for our magazine ‘l’Assomption’ in the fall of the same year.

After the celebration, he visited several houses of the province. He went with Msgr. Vasile Cristea, a.a. Fr. Richard Richards, a.a. was their guide and interpreter with Fr. Alfred Berthiaume as chauffeur and assistant guide. They first went to the novitiate in Saugerties, New York where they took part in a religious profession. They then went to the alumnate in Cassadaga, also in New York, but about 450 km away. After this, they traveled to Canada to visit our three houses: the alumnate of Bury, Beauvoir (a shrine of the Sacred Heart near Sherbrooke) and Quebec ( a shrine called the Canadian Montmartre). This last community was the only one that he had known before leaving in 1946. Fr. Wilfrid Dufault, who succeeded him as superior in Worcester and later Superior General of the Congregation, told me that Fr. Rodolphe had confided his great joy and satisfaction for the celebration that took place. He marked the vicariate of the time by his personality and more so our house in Worcester. We had to celebrate him because of this.

Hydulphe (Félix-E.-J.) Mathiot

1876-1962

French religious of the Province of North America.

In the New World.

Félix Edouard Joseph Mathiot was born March 7, 1876 at Docelles (Vosges). He did his secondary studies at the minor seminary of Autry (1889-1894). Then came his philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Saint-Dié where he was ordained to the priesthood December 19, 1900 by Bishop Foucault. After a few months as curate at Frizon, he came knocking on the door of the Assumption. He took the habit at Louvain October 18, 1901 under the name of Father Hydulphe, pronounced his first vows the following year at the same date and his perpetual vows in Rome October 18, 1903. He was sent to Rome where he got his licentiate in theology at the Minerva and, in 1904, left for Worcester (U.S.A.). Until 1927, he exercised a zealous apostolate, as a teacher at Assumption College and a well-appreciated preacher in various parishes of New England. In 1927, Fr. Hydulphe arrived at the Quebec novitiate in Bergerville. He taught Gregorian chant in various Quebec religious communities and especially to the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc, but also patrology at the major seminary of Quebec starting in 1934. In 1941, Father returned to the United States and was stationed at 14th Street. He the devoted himself to preaching and teaching Gregorian chant at the provincial house of the Little Sisters of the Assumption in Walden (New York) in 1947. During more than twenty years, he lived there and was very effective in teaching, preaching, and spiritual guidance. Regardless of a long and painful illness, Fr, Hydulphe remained a student and an avid reader. His studies were geared to an intellectual apostolate in the field of history and patrology. December 19, 1960, he had the joy of celebrating his sixty years of priesthood, his diamond jubilee, surrounded by his religious confreres from various houses. On the occasion, his intellectual activities and his great erudition served by a good memory were underscored. He had many qualities: a penetrating intelligence and a very faithful memory that were fed by constant labor. He was open to all manifestations of Christian culture. He knew the Fathers of the Church very well, especially Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostomos. He was also a master of the art of spiritual and humorous remarks and repartees. September 16, 1962, in his 87th year, his battle with life ended. Until his last breath, he was accompanied with the prayers and care of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. At the end, he was neither able to read or write legibly nor follow a thought logically, and this situation made him suffer greatly. His funeral was held in the Christ the King chapel at Assumption Preparatory School in Worcester. Fr. Polyeucte Guissard gave the eulogy and Bishop Flanagan of the Worcester Diocese said the final commendation. Fr. Hydulphe was buried at the cemetery for the religious at the Prep School.

Memories concerning Fr. Hydulphe.

When Fr. Hydulphe arrived in the United States in 1904, he started to preach retreats to the Little Sisters of the Assumption at the age of 28. His retreats were unforgettable, since one felt that he lived what he preached. A profound theologian, he presented the doctrine and the faith of the Church through the life of the Fathers of the Church that he knew so well. He was a true orator who could not speak of the passion of Christ without emotion. He also had the talent of being concrete and adding amusing stories of community life to enliven his topic. Gifted with a great capacity for work, he recomposed the musical accompaniments from the manual for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. He was demanding for himself, since he liked to have work well done; the Sisters were well aware of this when they had to recopy music. With an artistic temperament, he knew how to train organists. He furnished the Walden library with books and enjoyed the stillness of Nature and the atmosphere of a house that favored work. In spiritual direction, he knew how to comfort. A pleasant companion, he was an erudite who could present clearly the main points of a situation or tell a story with some unforgettable expressions. The one at whose expense they were directed or a person who had no sense of humor could apprehend his quips or puns. But nothing will ever come to light since, before his death, Fr. Hydulphe destroyed all of his notes, feeling that no one else would be able to use them adequately.

Addenda.

He did one year of military service and was dispensed of his 2nd year since his mother was a widow. It was through Fr. Merklen that he came in contact with the Assumption. Fr. Hydulphe was one of the first religious sent to Worcester. He lived at Fales Street and taught Latin and chant. He was also in charge of drama. On 10 August 1914, Fr. Hydulphe left for France for military service in World War I and was stationed in Salonica.  He returned in 1920 until 1931. He had the students perform a Cantata of Saint-Saens when the 2nd wing of the Assumption College was blessed 7 November, 1922..

Letters from Sr. M.-Francine-Marguerite, Little Sister of the Assumption, Walden, N.Y.

6 January 1961: “I don’t know if you have heard that Rev. Fr. Hydulphe had a cerebral spasm on Tuesday morning at 10:45 on his way to Cassadaga. We can’t even leave him alone for a moment since he is afraid of another attack. He said that his situation was critical and that we should have him anointed. We called Fr. Ulric who came at once. Since that time, he is somewhat better. His left hand is regaining strength. His speech is a bit better, but he has difficulty swallowing and there is no light in his eyes. He only can take liquids and purees. As of yesterday, he has permission to get up and spend some time in his lounging chair.”

17 January 1961: “Fr. Hydulphe continues making progress, but very slowly. He now eats a bit and speaks better, but this tires him. His throat is always congested and his eyesight is not good. He works a bit. He translates the Ordo into French and dictates it to us. That occupies him 2 hours a day without tiring him. He reads a bit with glasses and a special lamp.”

Citizen Herald, Wednesday, December 21, 1960, p. 3.

Celebrated Diamond Jubilee in Priesthood ----

Father Mathiot celebrated 60th anniversary as priest, Monday. One of the most distinguished anniversaries ever marked by a priest of the Roman Catholic Church in this area took place in Walden, Monday, when Father Hydulphe Mathiot, A.A., venerable chaplain of the Little Sisters of the Assumption on Gladstone Avenue celebrated his Diamond Jubilee – the 60th anniversary of his ordination.

The scholarly, kindly looking priest celebrated the anniversary Mass in his little private chapel at one end of his neatly ordered library in which he has more than 3,000 beloved books, some of them dating back to the Middle Ages. During the day he had a private reception with his Provincial Superior, Very Rev. Henri Moquin of New York City.

Notable visitors:

There were other distinguished visitors here for the memorable occasion… A highlight of the day was the receipt of a telegram by Father Mathiot from His Holiness Pope John XXIII, conveying the Papal benediction… The first Assumptionist Father came to America in 1891 to serve as chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Assumption in New York City.

Distinguished scholar:

Father Mathiot has a record of outstanding achievements in nearly all the branches of his congregation’s works. He has distinguished himself as a professor and scholar, as an indefatigable preacher in nearly every parish of New England and Canada, and as a musician by promoting the study of sacred music and Gregorian Chant.

… Of the sixty years of priestly life, he has spent only one in the diocese of his origin.  After his ordination, he wished to enter the religious life immediately but the Bishop who had ordained him, recognizing the unusual talents of the young priest, and desirous of keeping him for his diocese, prevailed on him to wait a while before taking this decisive step. Father Mathiot therefore worked for one year as a secular priest before obtaining permission to enter the religious life.

Helped found a college:

His next three years were spent as an Assumptionist at Louvain in Belgium at Rome. After his studies, he came to America. His first field of apostolate in this country was the newly established College of the Assumption at Greendale, now located in Worcester, Mass. The college was scarcely a month old when he arrived there in mid-November of 1904 at the age of 28, to throw himself energetically into the tremendous task of building the new college. Like all beginnings, that of Assumption College encountered almost insurmountable difficulties.

The Assumptionist Fathers were new in the United States and completely unknown. Privations and obstacles of every type confronted them. But the Assumptionists were undismayed. Father Mathiot was equal to the task and as one of this small group of pioneers, he consecrated to his new work all his priestly ardor, his time, strength, and energy. So well did he accomplish his task that innumerable friends and benefactors were won for the struggling young college and it was enabled to take its rightful place among the leading educational institutions in America.

Chaplain in World War:

At the outbreak of the First World War, Father Mathiot devoted himself as a chaplain in the service of his country and ministered to the wounded in France and Salonica until 1920. He then returned to Assumption College where he remained until 1931. The next years of his apostolate were spent between Canada and the United States, preaching and teaching, introducing and stimulating interest in Gregorian Chant, and teaching at Laval University in Quebec. He is justly fames as a master of the Gregorian Chant and he composed original accompaniments for the benediction manual in use by the Little Sisters.

Converted garage:

His chapel occupies one end of a former garage that has been converted into his library. It has a small, plain altar where he celebrates mass. When he mentions his books of which there are over 3,000, his eyes light up and he describes them as his “Latin, French and English friends.” Those are the predominant languages of his books. The library has some extremely rare and old – ancient is the better word – books. Some of them cannot be matched outside of the great church libraries of the world.

Rare volumes:

One of the gems of the collection is a complete, eleven-volume set of Cornelius Lapide’s Biblical Commentaries, in Latin, published in Antwerp, Belgium, beginning in 1571. There are other rare volumes, dearly prized by researchers. Although he is now 84 years old, Father Mathiot, devoted chaplain of the Little Sisters, retains all his keenness of mind and his youthful vigor -- only his physical strength has diminished.

He reads insatiably. His memory is keen. He keeps abreast of world happenings. And he is forever studying and working… now, on a Biblical commentary, which is well advanced. Monday was one of the most wonderful days of his life. It was a day he will never forget… his Diamond Jubilee Mass… the meeting with his Provincial Superior… the Papal Benediction.. the good wishes and blessings of so many friends who remembered the significance of this day in the life and priesthood of a dear and devoted servant of God.

Golden Jubilee in Priesthood of Fr. Hydulphe Mathiot: Walden, 19 December 1950.

Sermon by Fr. Engelbert Devincq

My soul glorifies the Lord! My very dear Father,

What was the most impressive attribute of Our Lord?

His power? To be sure, when he commands the elements and illnesses, when he brings back from the grip of death the bodies, he can instill terror. However, possibly there is something better.

His intelligence? Without doubt, he astounds by his teaching, which surpasses all others. His words were so simple and at the same time luminous that the people are amazed and qualify his words as ‘sublime’ since this best translated the impression they had. And yet, intelligence does not seem to be the main trait of Christ’s psychology.

The most impressive is certainly his goodness, especially his pity. On the day that he inaugurated his public life, in the synagogue of Nazareth he read a passage from the prophet Isaiah. “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the lord’s year of favor.” He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down…. Then he began to speak to them, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” (Lk. 4:18-21) He spoke the truth. In him, there was nothing that was not inspired by pity. It is pity that makes him preach; that moves his power; that opens his lips in prayer; that pushes him toward suffering and the cross…

Priesthood is the instrument of his pity! In himself, he has all the riches necessary to exercise it. And yet he needs the means so that souls can profit y it. In order to do this, Christ infuses in the priesthood the strength needed to share this pity. Father, in your priesthood I want to underline 4 qualities that have made of it an instrument of pity: the strength of the word; the strength of light; the strength of beauty; the strength of blood. These are the things that explain the fruitfulness of a half-century of service to others.

Dear Father! Fifty years ago, you were ordained a priest. On this occasion so many remembrances come back to you. You see where you were born near the Moselle River, in the mountainous region of the Vosges; you relive the many good moments with your parents; you think of the years of formation at Autrey, Saint-Dié, and at Rome under the direction of pious and learned teachers. You can smell once again the holy chrism by which your hands were anointed in the cathedral of Saint-Dié. You think of the initiation to the ministry of souls, then your entry into the Assumption and your 2 years of novitiate under the guidance of the learned Fr. Félicien. Finally, your various ministries in America flash, before you like a slide show, your successes and your deceptions…

As I just explained, this day brings forth a victory by the 4 qualities of your priesthood. The Church never tires of singing a special song.: the Magnificat of the Virgin. You sing it in your heart at this time and we, your brothers, your friends, your spiritual children, sing it to God for all the things that this, your Golden Jubilee, brings to mind. Yes, Glory to God for the eternal priesthood!

Glory to God for the one who during 50 years, by the qualities given to him by God, shared the graces with a whole people!

Father Hydulphe came to Worcester in 1904, with an order from Father Emmanuel Bailly to go to “Greendale, Canada.”  He was already a priest when he entered the Congregation, in 1901. In Worcester, he taught, but mostly, from Worcester, he left to preach retreats in parishes and convents. In 1927, he was stationed in the newly founded house of Quebec. A great lover of Gregorian chant, he taught it to our novices and to those of the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc. A great lover of the Fathers of the Church and especially of Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom, he taught patrology at the Seminary of Quebec. He worked for years on a possible publication of quotations from the Fathers of the Church on various subjects, but unfortunately he destroyed his notes before his death, thinking that no one could make use of them. He was a great preacher. In time, he overcame a harsh temper beautifully. His last 15 years were spent in Walden, N.Y. with the Little Sisters of the Assumption, whom he helped in many ways, and who took a maternal care of him. He was buried in the Prep School cemetery. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Edouard (Philippe) Melchior

1909-1981

Religious of the Province of South Belgium.

Curriculum vitae.

Born June 4, 1909 at Maaseyck, in the Belgian Limbourg, Philippe Désiré Melchior, after doing his primary studies in his native country with the Brothers (1915-1919), continued his schooling at Brussels from 1920 to 1923, then at the Saint-Georges Institute in Brussels (1923-1936). He entered the humanities alumnate of Sart-les-Moines (1926-1930). He went to the Taintegnies novitiate where he took the religious habit and the name of Brother Edouard September 28, 1930. He pronounced his first vows September 29, 1931. Fr. Romanus Declercq, his master of novices, evaluated him in the following manner: “Brother Edouard is a fervent religious with many attributes. He has an open-minded intelligence and a well-balanced practical sense; his character is jovial and a bit timid although at times he can be cutting”. Brother Edouard did two years of philosophy at Saint-Gérard (1931-1934) and took care of his military obligations at the Beverloo camp. September 29, 1934, he pronounced his perpetual vows at Louvain in the hands of Fr. Aubain Colette where he studied theology (1934-1938). He was ordained a priest at Louvain March 6, 1938. Fr. Edouard was named to teach French, Latin, and Greek at Bure (1938-1945). After the war, he was obliged to change residence because of his favoring ‘rexist’ ideas. [Rexism was an extreme right wing political movement developed in Belgium under the direction of Léon Degrelle, in the years preceding the Second World War. Rex was the name of his publication founded in 1932. At first it was monthly, then weekly. After 1940, Degrelle became the champion in Wallonia for collaboration with Germany and created the division S.S. Wallonia.] He went to Sart-les-Moines in 1945 to care for late vocations. In 1947, he was sent to Colombia as curate in Cali, then teacher in Bogota at the Brothers’ college. Then the 1948 revolution came: the college was burned and several religious almost lost their lives during those troubled times. Fr. Edouard was transferred to the U.S.A., first at the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, then to the college in Worcester (1948-1957). At the end of 1957, the Bogota College reopened and received Fr. Edouard again, but this time as its director starting in 1969. He was at first superior of the community from 1959 to 1969. In 1973, Fr. Edouard returned to Belgium. He was named to Duquesnoy Street in Brussels and helped out at La Madeleine church. During the summer of 1980, it was discovered that he had lung cancer. He was hospitalized in the fall and died January 11, 1981. After the funeral celebrated at La Madeleine, his body was transferred and buried at Saint-Gérard on January 14.

Excerpts from the funeral homily.

“After the Second World War, the Belgian Province accepted a new field of apostolate in South America, in Colombia. A passionate and trying discovery awaited the first pioneers of this apostolic venture in these nations still unsettled by violence, misery, and disorder. Fr. Edouard tasted these painful beginnings for the Assumptionist foundation with its concern for the Christian education of the youth and the preparation of replacements from native vocations from the country. This was the foundation of the Emmanuel D’Alzon College in Bogota under the direction of Fr. Edouard. This college has just celebrated 25 years of foundation and the alumni were there to show all of their gratitude… Fr. Edouard presented a generous countenance, ardent up to the point of being rigorous, like that of a John the Baptist, and on the other hand, the presence of a meek and humble Christ who had come as Savior, sensitive to every misery for which he was merciful, was soon discovered. Being timid, and therefore a bit snappish, this religious had a big heart. Faithful in friendship, we already miss him, he who has entered into truth and the fullness of love”.

Addenda.

Letter from Fr. Melchior dated 28-4-1948 written at Instituto San Pablo, Bogota, Colombia.

You were appraised of the events that took place here, two weeks ago; they burned our house and we have absolutely nothing left: May the good Lord be blessed! My negotiations may be long and difficult since I no longer have a passport. In fact, it is an advantage. I have few possessions since I was able to flee with only my cassock. The other Fathers are equally safe. Nothing happened at Cali. We are going through tragic times, after the war in Belgium, Here we now have Communist riots. This being stripped of everything and seeing the ruins are an excellent means that God is using to show us that we are religious and that only by a submission to the His will are we to grow. We are happy regardless of all that we are going through.

Bogota, 1964.

“I have just finished my phone call and I write to you at once. I thank you for the confidence you have in me and I promise that I’ll be ready. All this is with the help of God, to be sure. No doubt I’ll receive your orders when it is time as well as those of Fr. Vargas. Could you mention to him this offer that you made me? What surprised me was that you made no allusion to Fr. Sylvère Piriot who had written to Fr. Jesus Fernandez to know what the situation was concerning the seminary. He is a good religious, intelligent, and very resourceful. He would do a better job than I as far as organizing and he had asked Fr. Jesus de la Esperanza to get information from you concerning this. Do not hesitate to write to him on this subject since two heads are better than one, isn’t that so? I know that he would want a rapid answer so that he could start with me in February. I hope that all this will move quickly so that I can be there a bit before the time. The Fathers can expect reinforcements coming from Europe. Concerning Fr. Théo Lowet, a sympathetic religious for all that, I don’t count on him.”

Amarin (René) Mertz

1907-1985

Religious of the Province of France.

Formation.

The fourth of six children, René Mertz was born in Riedwhir (Haut-Rhin) February 18, 1907.  After studying at Scherwiller (Bas-Rhin) from 1920 to 1924, and at Miribel-les-Echelles (Isère) from 1924 to 1926, he entered the novitiate at Taintegnies in Belgium where he received the religious habit under the name of Brother Amarin, November 5, 1926.  After taking his annual vows November 6, 1927 at Scy-Chazelles (Moselle), he studied philosophy in Saint Gérard and began his theology in Louvain where he made his final profession November 1, 1932, finishing it in Lormoy (Essonne) where he was ordained a priest December 4, 1934.

First mission: Manchuria.

In October 1935, Fr. Amarin left with Fr. Cyrille Paratte for Manchuria (Chinese territory under Japanese administration) where he remained thirteen years (1935-48), without seeing his family, often without even the possibility of contacting it.  He taught first at the minor seminary of Kirin with the priests of the Foreign Missions of Paris, then at the major seminary of Hsinking where several dioceses entrusted to the young team of Assumptionists the training of their Manchurian seminarians.  The Assumptionists built the major seminary under trying conditions: controls by the Japanese occupying authorities, political troubles caused by the Soviet intervention, and the Chinese Communist revolution.  Fr. Amarin’s great consolation was to see the priestly ordination of their seminarians just before the liquidation of the seminary.  Later, these priests worked in the diaspora, unwilling to accept the Patriotic Church, inspired by nationalism and isolationism.[3]

From Worcester to Douvaine: 1948-73.

After a few months in France, Fr. Amarin was once again ready for a distant mission, this time in North America.  He was first sent to Assumption College in Worcester (USA) where he taught French, became Dean of Discipline at the high school level, and, for a few years, directed the Apostolic School.  In 1955, he went to Canada to found an alumnate in Bury and was its first superior.  In 1958, he returned to France to relieve Fr. Romain Durand as master of novices at Nozeroy (Jura).  The novitiate closed its doors the following year (1959).  Fr. Amarin was then appointed superior of the college in Bône, Algeria, remaining in that post until the religious withdrew in 1963 as a result of Algerian independence.  In 1963, he was appointed superior of the alumnate in Vellexon (Haute-Saône), which was experiencing difficulty recruiting students.  Finally, from 1964 to 1973, Fr. Amarin was the superior of the orphanage in Douvaine (Haute-Savoie).

Jerusalem: 1973-81.

Here, too, a difficult mission awaited Fr. Amarin in 1973.  At age 66, he went to Jerusalem where the community at Saint Peter in Gallicantu had suffered from the political and military events of the Yom Kippur War.  His stay was supposed to be of short duration, but in 1976 he was reappointed superior until 1981 when the state of his health obliged him to return to France.  During this period, he knew how to create a peaceful atmosphere in this international community, often pulled apart by opposing views and torn by the tensions affecting the country.  He exhausted himself as he guided (in several languages) the pilgrims who came to visit the shrine.  He combined the qualities of a perfect guide, saying: one must be hospitable and even-tempered, with a bit of humor on occasion; apostolic, putting forward the Christian point of view; devoted and always willing to replace someone who couldn’t be there; familiar with the Holy Scriptures; knowledgeable about history and the history of the holy sites; and not too long!

Souffelweyersheim: 1982-85.

After a short rest in Savoy, Fr. Amarin was named to the semi-active community of Strasbourg-Allée Spach.  He left it the following spring when the new community of Souffelweyersheim (Bas-Rhin) was founded and where, after having held many responsible positions in difficult or transitional situations, he spent three happy years.  He was a delightful companion for his brothers, witty, full of kindness and attention.  He divided his time into short alternating periods, comprising prayer, reading, gardening, and different community services.  He was extremely serviceable, never speaking about himself or his health.  He took care of himself, but in the privacy of his room.  On the feast of the Ascension in 1985, following a malaise, he was hospitalized in Strasbourg.  He was treated for respiratory problems until the morning of July 24, the day on which he died.  His funeral was celebrated July 29 at Souffelweyersheim in the presence of about thirty Assumptionists and numerous parents and friends.  Fr. Amarin was the first to be buried in the cemetery of Souffelweyersheim where the community was granted a plot.

Addenda.

When Fr. Amarin first came to Assumption Prep, in his French class, he would bring in Chinese tea to share with his students. As Dean of Discipline, he was well liked and the students would enjoy his air raid drills when he would yell out: ‘Raid-Air! Raid-Air!.

Fr. Amarin wrote College d’Alzon in Bone 14 April 1963.

It has been quite some time since I wrote you letters concerning the new installation. They are very kind to keep me informed of what is happening there.

Here I write to the Provincial in the opposite manner: i.e. concerning closing houses. We have just sounded the doomsday bell: an announcement by letter to the parents  that the college is closing at the end of the school year since the Fathers are leaving. We don’t know what will happen to the college; we are waiting to see where negotiations lead...

I won’t have to brag about my realizations since I left America. In less than 4 years, I have closed two houses. Fr. Ract must now realize that he would have been better off to leave me in the USA. I don’t know what he intends to do with me.

Would you still have a place for me at my age? I could still care for flowerbeds in some house. That is still what I do best.

Amarin Mertz writes to Fr. Henri Moquin, Provincial from Wickerachwihr 4 September 1948.

You have been greatly interested these last years by the Manchurians and these are very thankful to you. Perhaps you still take care of them now that they had to leave their dear mission.

A question that must have troubled the missionaries on vacation, is that of their future activity. Concerning myself, I must admit that I haven’t even thought about it. But my nomination for your dear country filled me with great joy. It will give me the chance to serve you, as little as my services can be. I know many of your confreres, and we’ll find ourselves in one great family. Finally they let us hope to be able to return to China some day.

Those who wish to go to America have quite a few formalities to fulfill. Most likely, you are aware of them, since you already helped Fr. Clovis. Could you please help me in the same way by sending me in double two copies of the following certificates?

1-certificate as a teacher in Worcester

2-certificate of salary once I’ll be in America.

This will enable me to see you more quickly. Please excuse me for being so late. It is only eight days since I received my nomination. If you have other interesting information to send me, please add it. Maybe I’ll have to ask you for the money sent to you in my name. But we can speak about that later.

Very religiously yours in Our Lord and Our Lady of the Assumption.  Amarin Mertz

Nozeroy, 1958.

“This is the third or fourth time that I am too late because of events for my wishes for the feast of St. Wilfrid. In past years, we were right in the midst of getting established and building in Bury. This year, it is a question of another installation for me [Nozeroy]. But be assured, dear Father, that we will be certain to make amends for being late by redoubling our fervor through our prayers on 12 October, a date that is dear to us. Since I move around a bit – it is the time of my vacations – I understand better your need for prayers to direct the Congregation. May the Holy Spirit and your holy patron help you in your task, which, I imagine, must at times be quite heavy to carry. Fr. Romain [Camille Durand] left us this morning. The good-byes were touching. Tears flowed. I was able to see how much Father was esteemed and loved at the novitiate where he did a lot of good. You have to fear for his successor! I was a bit surprised not to be able to return to Bury in Canada. On Sunday we had a few religious being vested. They are still not numerous.”

Alfred (Joseph Gérard Laurent) Moors

1883-1971

Belgian religious of the Province of England.

Outline of his life.

Joseph Gérard Laurent Moors was born August 10, 1883 at Aix-la-Chapelle in Germany, in the diocese of Cologne. Later, his Belgian parents resided at Cortessem, in Limbourg. September 8, 1898, young Joseph entered the Taintegnies alumnate for his studies (1897-1901). He just passed through that of Clairmarais (1901) during the expulsion. He returned to Taintegnies to finish his humanities (1901-1903). On March 11, 1904, under the name of Brother Alfred, he took the habit at the Louvain novitiate where he made his first vows the following year on the same date. His perpetual vows were held March 25, 1906. He was sent to the Zepperen alumnate to teach for a while (1906-1907). Then came his philosophy studies at Louvain (1907-1910). Brother Alfred began his theology at Louvain (1910-1912) and pursued them at Notre-Dame de France in Jerusalem (1912-1913). Bishop Piccardo ordained him a priest July 13 in Jerusalem. In 1914, Fr. Alfred was eligible to be drafted, but since he had, in his capacity as chaplain for refugees, a deferment certificate that expired at the end of the armistice, he spent 1914-1919 in England as a military chaplain for the English and Australian soldiers. Since he knew German perfectly, he was also asked to hold services for the German prisoners who were in detention camps. During this time, Fr. Alfred was attached to the Bethnal Green convent in London. This also permitted him to hold religious services for Belgian sisters in the British capital. He also spent some time helping as a curate in the Assumptionist parishes of Charlton (1915-1917) and Rickmansworth (1917-1919). From 1919 to 1925, Fr. Alfred was sent to teach at the college of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, then to the U.S.A. to the college in Worcester (1925-1927). His favorite subjects were: English, drawing, and stenography. In 1927, Fr. Alfred returned to England where he would spend the rest of his life: first, as curate at Bethnal Green during 25 years (1927-1952), then at Newhaven (Sussex).  From 1955 to 1959, he was part pf the formation team at the Hitchin alumnate (Herts) and then became chaplain for a convalescent home in Brighton (Sussex). In 1970, he was admitted to a rest home of the Little Sisters of the Assumption at Hove where he died November 3, 1971 at the age of 88. His funeral was held November 9 in the church of Bethnal Green where he had been curate during 25 years. Fr. Alfred’s body was buried in the Leyton cemetery in the vault of the Assumptionist religious.

Jubilees and centenary.

“I absolutely don’t want to miss the centenary pilgrimage to Lourdes (1958): it is the final lap in a progression of silver jubilees between Lourdes and myself. The very year of the apparitions (1858), my father had just been born. I was born in 1883, for the 25th anniversary of the apparitions. I went for the first time to Lourdes with Fr. Emmanuel Bailly in 1908 to celebrate my 25th birthday, which corresponded to the 50th anniversary of Lourdes. I remember the unforgettable procession of the 200 living cured during the 50 first years. Gargan and the heroine, very alive, from Zola’s novel, ‘Lourdes’, that the author in his book has die, were there. A brother of Bernadette was also there. My second pilgrimage to Lourdes took place in 1933 to celebrate my 50th birthday, corresponding to the 75th year of the apparitions. For my own hundred years, I will most likely need a replacement, unless 60 years are enough for a platinum jubilee. Why not imitate Fr. Clodoald Serieix, my former superior in Worcester who granted me in 1968 my third pilgrimage? I would like to go there with my brother, Fr. Rodrigue”. Letter dated December 16, 1957.

Addenda.

“How can I not be touched when the Father of the whole Assumptionist family is the first to send me congratulations for my jubilee.. I am now a ‘presbyter’ in the double sense of the Greek word, having become octogenarian this year. I thought that I would write you before Easter to get permission to spend a month of vacations in my family. Since I left the USA, this took place only every five years. We are a patriarchal family on the model of the Canadian families: great grandfather, grandfather, and a father having at least ten children. As far as those living, I have more than 150 names among whom are my two sisters who are nuns, 3 nieces also nuns and each year the list gets longer. Concerning the ‘home’ where I serve, my work among the convalescents on the one hand, the elderly and infirm in bed or who keep to their room on the other hand, is not quite a sinecure. We had 8 deaths last year. I usually deal for the most part with Catholics in name that from father to son have not practiced their religion since their first communion. The only instruction of an old woman was to read the Life of Jesus by Renan. I succeeded in giving a passport to all those who died. Saint Peter will not be too severe at the lines!”

Letter to the Provincial by Fr. Alfred Moors dated 4 September 1927.

I have just received my travel notice, dated 4 July. Counting on the fact that you are cognizant of the 2- month delay not dependent on me, I hope that you excuse it. Fr. Superior has named me again for 13 September to Jefferson. He is presently in Canada with Frs. Philippe and Fernandez. Fr. Symphorien telegraphed him to ask if I was absolutely necessary that I go to Jefferson for those days.

I’ll go to New York as soon as possible for my passport and will take the first ship where I find a place.

I thank you so much, dear Father, for having finally taken me away from teaching. I am even more thankful by the fact that you thought of this yourself.  I had not dared to trouble you again this year on this topic and this is a trait of your goodness that I shall not forget.

I hope to see you in Paris and if you permit me to visit my old mother in Belgium for three or four days, this would please me greatly. She has a very weak heart and will not live many more years. I’ll wait till later to visit with the other members of my family. It will be as you judge to be good and opportune.

Hoping to see you and to speak at greater length of things, I remain your obedient and thankful child in Our Lord. Fr. Alfred Moors

Fulgence (Nicolas Auguste) Moris

1865-1921

French religious.

Fr. Brun’s successor in New York.

Nicolas Auguste Moris was born June 5, 1865 at Val-d’Isère (Savoie). He did his grammar studies at Notre-Dame des Châteaux (1876-1879) and his humanities at Alès (Gard) from 1879 to 1881. He received the habit at the Osma novitiate from the hands of Fr. Picard, November 21, 1882 under the name of Brother Fulgence and pronounced his perpetual vows December 14, 1884. A few days later, he was tonsured and received the minor orders. He was sent to the Nice alumnate (Alpes-Maritimes) where he taught two years (1885-1887). In 1887, he returned to Osma for his theology and to prepare himself for his ordinations. He was noticed because of his serious application, his love of precision, and his interest in theology. He was ordained to the priesthood December 21, 1888 and the following year taught at Osma for two years (1889-1900), where the Assumption tried to organize a college, but this quickly proved to be unfruitful. In 1891, Fr. Fulgence was named to the Mauville alumnate (Pas-de-Calais), then to that of Taintegnies in Belgium (1892).  In 1893, he became a teacher and curate at Villecomtesse (Yonne). In 1894, he held the same positions at Clairmarais. Finally in 1895, after the death of Fr. Henri Brun, Fr. Picard sent Fr. Fulgence to New York as chaplain of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. He stayed there 20 years. He was the co-founder of the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New York in 1902 at 14th Street. From 1896 to 1902, in fact, the parish did not exist. The two or three religious of the community lived in apartments. They had to move from time to time because of an increase in rent or a rental that was not renewed. These changes were always disagreeable and bothered Fr. Fulgence who had a love of stability. He exerted much effort for the numerous parishioners of the poor milieus, Latinos and Irish, often recently immigrated. They became his friends because of his calm and affability, his very prudent advice, his assiduity in the confessional, his willingness to help, and his inalterable patience. He could be reproached for his slowness, his involuntary tardiness, his excessive aversion toward all that seemed to be new, or even his timidity when faced with an initiative to take. An enemy of noise, promenades, and excursions, he spent more than twenty years in New York without getting to know the city, except for the two roads that led to the communities of the Little Sisters! A secretary who moved around a bit, spending only a few weeks in the business capital of the U.S.A., knew more concerning the monuments and the transformations taking place in the city than he did. In 1919, his health forced him to take a total rest. Fr. Fulgence was recalled to France, and after a few months spent in his native Savoy village, he went to the San Remo house in November 1920. It was there that he died in the night of July 30, 1921, at the age of 57, of which 37 of religious profession and 33 as a priest. His body rests in the vault of the Assumption at San Remo.

From a letter by Fr. Ferréol, August 1921.

“We were all able to admire the patience with which Fr. Fulgence accepted his illness, his physical incapacity to move and all the consequences of this aboulia [mental illness leading to apathy], a normal result of his illness and against which we tried uselessly to get him to react, possibly, at times, with too much insistence. Father did not hold this against us, since he understood that we were doing this for his own good. Because he had trouble speaking and being understood, we were unable to appreciate all of the qualities of the dearly departed, but the little that we do know suffices for our belief that all those who lived with him had the joy of experiencing the company of a brother with a very sensitive heart, who was thoughtful and filled with a strong affection”.

Addenda.

Fr. Fulgence started his priestly ministry in the alumnates of France. However, Father Henri Brun, the first Assumptionist in North America, asked that Father Fulgence come to join him. He came in 1895, after Father Brun’s death, and remained 24 years, including the hectic years of the foundation of a New York alumnate, which lasted three years at 109 East 83d Street. This disappeared in 1900. The Fathers in New York shifted as well as they could with chaplaincies until they were allowed and encouraged to work among the Spanish-speaking people. Thus they bought an apartment on 14th Street and made a small chapel out of it. Later, it was enlarged. Father Fulgence spent all his American years at Our Lady of Guadalupe from then on. He returned to France in 1919 because of ill health. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

News, 1916.

“You may have learned from the Little Sisters that Fr. Stéphane [Chaboud] has been quite tired these last days. I want to tell you that he is almost better. An abscess in a tooth was the cause of all the problems. The tooth was extracted Saturday the 19th, and at once the inflammation spread and threatened to invade the face and the neck. I thought it was prudent, in order to avoid possible complications, to advise the Father to go to Saint Vincent’s hospital where he would get all the care that he needed. He did this on Sunday afternoon. On Monday, the doctor, fearing a general infection cut open his cheek to permit the puss to drain out. I am happy to say that from that moment on,  our sick man is feeling better and better. Possibly in two or three days, he will be back at 14th Street. The general health of the community is maintaining itself regardless of the heat wave that we just had. We continue praying for the intentions that you have indicated, hoping that God will answer our prayers some day”.

Aurèle  (Aimé-François-Ernest) Odil

1886-1984

Religious of the Province of France.

The major stages in a lengthy life.

Aimé François Ernest Odil was born October 4, 1886, at Paris-Auteuil of parents from Lorraine having migrated to Paris where they ran a pub. In 1895, after school, he delivered the newspaper La Croix to the houses of the subscribers of his district at Boileau Street or that of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. In 1899, he entered Sainghin-en-Weppe (North) alumnate and then went to the one at Taintegnies in Belgium (1902-1904). He was vested with the religious habit at the Louvain novitiate September 18, 1904 under the name of Brother Aurèle. He made his first annual vows September 18, 1905 and his perpetual vows June 7, 1907. He did his philosophy at Louvain (1906-1909) and also his theology (1909-1912), which was finished at Rome from 1912 to 1913 to absorb a note of catholicity according to the desire of Fr. Bailly. Under the guidance of Fr. Merklen, he developed a taste for the study of positive theology and Canon Law. He was ordained a priest July 7, 1912 at Louvain by Bishop Legraive, being part of the last group under Fr. Merklen’s guidance before the dispersion.

He discovered the New World by going to teach at the college in Worcester (U.S.A.) from 1913 to 1919. He opened the eyes of his young American students to the culture of old Europe and at the same time, his own world vision, to a more scientific and cosmopolitan worldview. From 1919 to 1920, he was a substitute teacher at Boxtel (Holland). Between 1920 and 1930, he taught at the Scy-Chazelles alumnate (Moselle) and was pastor at the parishes of Lessy and Roserieulles, near Metz. He started a fruitful confession ministry at the Metz cathedral. This was to spread to other sites until 1980. Around 1924, Fr. Merklen came back on the scene after a time of exile. He was named editor-in-chief of the Documentation Catholique and asked Fr. Aurèle to do translations of English articles. In 1927, Fr. Merklen became editor-in-chief of La Croix and it was not long before he called on his preferred disciple to become secretary general of the newspaper starting in 1930.

Journalism at Bayard-Press.

Thus, Fr. Aurèle became the right arm of Fr. Merklen in this work of Penelope that, from 1930 to 1940, consisted in giving to French Catholics a sense of the vigorous pontifical directives of Pius XI: Catholic action for the interior and a love of peace among the nations for the exterior. He served as go-between for the editor-in-chief and the nuncio, Msgr. Maglione. He communicated to the editorialists, Jean Caret, Robert d’Harcourt, and Thellier de Poncheville, the directives of the chief. During the invasion in 1940, with La Croix, Fr. Aurèle took off to Limoges (Haute-Vienne) where, in the absence of Fr. Merklen, hunted by the Gestapo, he was in charge of the newspaper with Alfred Michelin and Maurice Herr. This certainly was the most difficult period of his life, if we overlook the last four years.

After some time at the Perpignan College (Oriental Pyrenees), from 1941 to 1944, having been temporarily set aside, Fr. Aurèle returned to the general secretariat of La Croix and passed it on to his own disciple, Fr. Le Bartz. In 1945, Fr. Aurèle took over the direction of the Documentation Catholique that Frs. Miglietti, Merklen, and Boulesteix ran before him. Under his direction, this magazine, known throughout the world before the war, oriented itself more deeply toward the priority of publication of pontifical documents, gradually doing away with documents on actualities. Unsurpassed in this field, for the balanced choice of documents, the authenticity of the texts, the faithful translations, and the references given with the texts, this magazine finished by being quoted by the popes themselves as being reliable as references and found its place in the regular documentary listing of the university libraries.

In 1968, Fr. Aurèle officially ceased being editor-in-chief and was replaced by Fr. Charles Musnier. Nevertheless, he continued collaborating with the magazine until 1980. He was also needed to print the various writings of the Congregation: the Necrology and the Ordo that demanded preciseness and multiple corrections in the printing trade.

In 1980, Fr. Aurèle was the victim of an accident during which the plaster bust of the founder, Fr. d’Alzon, struck him on the head. He then had to be brought to the rest house of Lorgues (Var). This ended a lengthy ministry at Saint-Pierre-de-Chaillot where he had celebrated the first daily morning mass since 1960. Among his faithful parishioners was the filmmaker, Henri-Georges Clouzot. During six years (1961-1967), Fr. Aurèle had been the superior at François Ier Street and was appreciated by his confreres for his human qualities of goodness and meekness. He preached all the virtues by his example, even punctuality which he mastered only late in life! The last four years of Fr. Aurèle’s life at Lorgues were similar to those of the prophet Job. He was well cared for and surrounded by confreres, but he suffered greatly from being cut off from the work of his life, the daily contact with Bayard-Press. He went through detachment and the helplessness of old age. With the years came the infirmities. His carcass was melting away, according to his own expression. He was the last survivor of his family. He only had a niece, Miss Richou, who was already 86 in 1984. Fr. Aurèle died at Lorgues August 4, 1984, at 98 years old, the dean of the Congregation.  He was the first religious of the Assumption to reach this longevity, 98 years and 10 months to be precise, since the beginning of the Congregation until the potential hundred-year-old Fr. Léon Carrère, born December 31, 1901. Fr. Aurèle was buried at Lorgues the following August 6th, having almost passed through a century with a gift for communication, totally in harmony with his life and work milieus. This made of him an actor and an exceptional witness, after 50 years of presence at Bayard Press.

Addenda.

Fr. Odil, through the various stages of his life, remains for us a witness of the Church and of the Assumptionist life during one century. As long as he kept his exceptional ability to communicate, he was a witness for us, and now that he has been silenced, he remains so even today.

He published articles in La Croix between 1907 and 1912 under the pseudonym of Ernest Maldidier. [François Bernard in La Croix August 7, 1984.]

… We can say that he was a witness. Just as the Letter to the Hebrews, we could say ‘a cloud of witnesses’, because of the many varied positions that he held, except that of a missionary. Here is a quick review: teacher in alumnates; teacher in a college; builder; confessor; pastor; chaplain, and finally, journalist during 50 years: 15 at La Croix, 35 at La Documentation Catholique. As pastor, let me remind you that, in 1960, he volunteered to celebrate the first morning mass at St-Pierre of Chaillot… I was forgetting that Fr. Odil was also our superior during 6 years. He had a certain rigor tempered by goodness…

[Funeral homily by Fr. Charles Monsch].

Letter by Fr. Aurèle Odil to Fr. Armand Desautels dated 13 June 1966.

I want to tell you how happy I was to rediscover with you the Worcester air of my youth when I spent such good moments at Assumption College. The buildings that enriched your province were not grandiose. We tried to get a start in order to realize a dream of Fr. d’Alzon: university studies ‘ad majorem gloriam Dei! … How happy we were when we were able to grant Bachelor of Arts degrees for the first time Also when we saw the Harvard University courses open to our students for the first time without having to take tests. Since that time, you have done more and it’s a good thing.

Documentation .

“Thank you for sending the letter from Fr. Beaudet. I immediately verified with Fr. Claude [Musnier} our files for all that appeared in the Documentation Catholique since 1960: there are more than 28 items. Concerning the Pope’s interventions, we can’t put more than those that appear in the Osservatore Romano or the Acta Apostolicae Sedis and I don’t think that by searching for all that you can find in these two publications, from Paul VI on the parish, one can find more than we have printed.  It is one of our principles. We never let any text from the Pope pass by without printing it. Some even feel that we print too much! But we cannot invent. All of the interventions of the Pope are not found in the publications of the Holy See. That is why we can only get to know those that appear there. What the Pope has told a bishop in an audience ad limina, only the bishop can speak of it and it is rare to see traces of these comments in the diocesan bulletins. Even words said in public are not reproduced in the Osservatore, but we refer to them in order to get the integral authorized text. If something is lacking, we put it in a footnote”.

Edmund O’Donnell

1796-1869

Irish religious.

A memory revisited.

It is thanks to Father Austin Treamer, when he was Provincial of England, that we are able to know with more certainty, thanks to his patient research, the person of Fr. Edmund O’Donnell, the first non-French religious to enter the Assumptionist religious life. Edmund O’Donnell was Irish, born at a time when the whole Island was English, undoubtedly the very day of his baptism, April 7, 1796. This is the only date inscribed and discovered in the parish registers of Cashel (county and diocese of Cork, district of Cashel and Emly). He was the son of John O’Donnell and Joan Caen who already had another son, Jeremy, born and baptized February 14, 1794. We have no other details on the youth of Edmund except that he became a seminarian and met a compatriot priest, John McEnroe who was attracted to South Carolina in 1822 by Msgr. John England, also from Cork and who became the bishop of Charleston (U.S.A.) in 1820. Msgr. England was very active in the emancipation movement for Irish Catholics launched by Daniel O’Connor and desirous of setting up a pastoral milieu for the numerous Irish immigrants to the U.S.A. Edmund left in the company of Fr. McEnroe, a diocesan priest, for the diocese of Charleston where Msgr. England received them. Young Edmund was ordained to the priesthood in Charleston, April 25, 1824 in the Saint Finbar Cathedral, reconstructed in 1842. According to local sources, it is certain that Father McEnroe returned to Ireland in 1832, but we cannot ascertain whether Father Edmund also returned to Europe with him, since he also worked in the diocese of New York.

Nothing else is known concerning Fr. Edmund for the years 1832-1834. It was in Paris that this latter met, at the Irish college, a certain Reverend Machale, professor at this national college in the French capital and the future executor of Fr. Edmund’s will. The Assumptionist college of Clichy-la-Garenne (Hauts-de-Seine), under the direction of Fr. Charles Laurent, constantly seeking teachers, hired Fr. Edmund in 1854. He asked to enter religious life. A novice at the age of 58, he received the habit from the hands of Fr. Laurent October 2, 1854 in the college chapel. The novice remained an English teacher, according to the custom and the needs of the time. After his annual vows, of which nothing was inscribed in the archives, Father Edmund pronounced his perpetual vows August 10, 1956. Adapting himself to a community of much younger religious, a man with a meek and peaceful temperament, Fr. Edmund, besides his courses, spent his time at Clichy studying Scholasticism. He took on an English translation of the Summa of Saint-Thomas Aquinas. He loaned the community money from his inheritance so it could pay its most urgent debts. In 1859, closing the Clichy College and redistributing the staff was already being considered. The Religious of the Assumption would have liked to get Fr. O’Donnell as their chaplain. He leaned toward a foundation in Canada, but Fr. d’Alzon did not want to hear of this, no doubt because he was worried about furnishing helpers to Msgr. Quinn for Australia.

Fr. Edmund was sent to the Parisian community of Auteuil in 1861 where a novitiate under the direction of Fr. Picard had been set up at Eymès Street in an out-building of the Religious of the Assumption of La Thuilerie, while waiting for the construction of a residence at François Ier Street and the setting up of a community there. Although he knew English perfectly, he was not selected to go to Australia with the religious: Frs. Henri Brun, Paul-Elphège Tissot, Eugène Cusse, Brothers François de Sales Gavète, and Polycarpe Hudry. He served as a part-time chaplain to the Sisters at Auteuil until 1863. After that, he went to the community of François Ier Street that was now established, and he pursued his translations. Having a fragile health, it was suggested that he go to the Vichy (Puy-de-Dôme) spa annually, but he would have preferred to found an Assumptionist community in Ireland. He was a friend of Fr. Pernet whose company he enjoyed at Clichy and Paris, and since 1863, he followed with interest the foundation of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, while also interesting himself in the foundations in the missions of Australia and Bulgaria. In January 1869, already exhausted since several years, Fr. O’Donnell, although ill, had the joy of meeting Fr. d’Alzon for a last time in Paris. On January 27, he received the last sacraments and renewed his religious vows. He died January 31, 1869, at the age of 73 years, at François Ier Street. He was buried the following February 2 in the tomb of the Religious of the Assumption at Auteuil. (Not the Passy cemetery as is erroneously stated a bit everywhere.) He was the first deceased priest religious of the Congregation, the first Irishman, and the only one born in the 18th century.

[For more information, see “Father Edmund O’Donnell, AA, 1st edition (1982), 72 pages, by Fr. Austin Treamer.]

Addenda.

Letter of Fr. D’Alzon to Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly: Paris 2 February 1869.

I let Fr. Picard and our Brothers accompany Fr. O’Donnell to his last resting place. I just finished singing mass for him and I gave in to the suggestion that I not go to the cemetery since, on Sunday, I had a strong bout of neuralgia and I would have the same thing happen tomorrow. This good Father died in the most admirable dispositions.

Note 1: Fr. O’Donnell was buried in the Passy cemetery in the vault of the Religious of the Assumption. According to the necrology of the Congregation, Fr. O’Donnell was born in 1799 and died at 70 years old. However, in a letter to Fr. Picard dated 14 June 1861, Fr. Tissot wrote from Australia: “Tell O’Donnell that I feel 20 years younger. He would only be 52 years old if he went through the same experience.” If Fr. Tissot was well informed, Fr. O’Donnell would have been 72 in 1861. Thus, he would have been born in 1789 and died at the age of 80. Even if the date of birth of Fr. O’Donnell remains uncertain, Fr. A. Treamer discovered in 1989 that of his ordination to the priesthood, which had been unknown for a long time: 25 April 1824 in Charleston (South Carolina, USA).

Footnote # 3 to a Letter to Brother Etienne Pernet by Fr. D’Alzon.

This footnote concerns Fr. O’Donnell: Priest novice originally from Ireland who became a religious 2 October 1854. He died 31 January 1869 at rue François Ier, but his dates of birth and ordination are not known. It is only the necrology that mentions as the year of his birth 1799. This learned religious first published in 1854 a translation in English of the Génie du christianisme, then in 1859 at Dublin, a Compendium of St. Thomas’ Theology in 2 volumes, and in 1863, two volumes of Sermons on the Gospels of all the Sundays. In 1959, Fr. A. Treamer honored Fr. O’Donnell with “a modest homage. He listed him among those of the last century who were the pioneers of the Thomistic Renewal in English-speaking countries.”

Fr. Edmond O’Donnell was the first religious to die in a house of the Congregation in France.

From the chancery of the Charleston diocese in South Carolina.

“I ordained Mr. Edward O’Donnell whom I had received as a candidate for Holy Orders from the diocese of Cashel in Ireland giving him the Tonsure and the order of Porter…” (June 24, 1823 Diary of Msgr. John England)

November 25: “I celebrated High Mass in Pontificals and ordained the Reverend Patrick O’Sullivan, priest; the Reverend Edward O’Donnell whom I had within the preceding month given the Orders of Reader, Exorcist, Acolyth and Subdeacon, was ordained Deacon…” (Idem)

June 24: Sometime in the month of September, I ordained Mr. Edward O’Donnell whom I had received as a candidate for Holy Orders from the diocese of Cashel in Ireland giving him the Tonsure and Order of Porter.

Father Edmund O’Donnell, A.A. (1799-1869) by Fr. Austin Treamer, A.A.

Unfortunately documents giving details of his early years have been mislaid owing to the turmoil caused in France by two persecutions against Religious Orders in 1880 and particularly against us in 1899; also by the upheaval brought about by the two World Wars. We have hopes that the Archives of the General House in Rome, and elsewhere, will bring to light these documents and thus help us to have an accurate knowledge of the first professed Augustinian of the Assumption priest to die since our foundation in 1845-50. We have to fall back for some information in volume IV of Fr. Siméon Vailhé’s ‘Life of Father d’Alzon, page 443, on research carried out in Paris, in various ecclesiastical and government offices. Research in Ireland has remained unsuccessful in spite of the courtesy and kindness of the ecclesiastical authorities I contacted.

Fr. Siméon Vailhé, A.A.… tells us that as a young priest [really as a seminarian] about the age of twenty-six he left for the U.S.A. to exercise his priestly ministry among the Irish immigrants… We know that in 1853 he was in Paris and had accepted to become English Master in the college at Clichy.

Clichy: Two years later, 1853, the school was transformed from the Faubourg St. Honoré where now stand the Dominican Church and Priory, to Clichy. Money had to be found to buy the more spacious and convenient house and grounds at Clichy and Fr. Laurent was trying to raise some for September 1. On August 24, 1853, he wrote to Fr. d’Alzon, “I answered the solicitor that I would be ready. My new English Master, Monsieur l’abbé O’Donnell, a most venerable priest, has offered to lend me 10,000 francs from Ireland.” This is the first mention of Fr. O’Donnell’s name, and he was then a diocesan priest…

After the usual preparation, Fr. O’Donnell received the religious habit at Clichy in the College chapel on October 2, 1854, Fr. Laurent being celebrant. The next day he wrote in French a charming letter to our Founder:

Letter from Fr. Edmund O’Donnell to Fr. d’Alzon..

“Clichy, October 3, 1854.

Dear and Venerable Father,

At last I am one of your sons. Since yesterday, feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, I am a member of the community of the Assumption. Yesterday evening, Fr. Laurent clothed me with the religious habit and gave us an excellent instruction on the obligations of religious life and the holiness it requires. I would have been delighted to receive the monastic habit from you and to embrace you on this occasion, which constitutes one of the happiest days of my life. For many years I had been thinking of it and with the help of God’s grace and Our Lady’s intercession, preparing myself to adopt this way of life and to consecrate myself more closely to the service of my Creator and my Saviour. I now recommend myself to your good prayers and those of the Nimes community so that Our Lord may deign to grant me the graces and blessings necessary for my sanctification in this world and life eternal in the next. The prayers of fervent souls are always very efficacious in drawing down upon us God’s mercy and in strengthening us against the temptations of the world and the wiles of the Old Serpent who seeks by all possible means to deceive us and deprive us of eternal bliss… (He continues telling Fr. d’Alzon how he had been the victim of a theft and how this had upset him.) I shall follow the wise advice dictated by your fatherly love. I have the honour, dear and respected Father, to offer you the homage of my respect, of my utter devotedness and complete sincerity.

Maison de l’Assomption        E. O’Donnell” [The thief was discovered and dismissed from the College staff.]

Fr. Edmund pleased Fr. d’Alzon when he entered the Congregation, because this vocation was to him the promise of vocations that would extend beyond France – though all of his ministry was, de facto, in France. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

More notes by Fr. Austin Treamer, A.A. “The Life of Father E. O’Donnell, A.A. (1796-1869).

Edmund J. O’Donnell was born in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland. Brother Jules Boulet notified the Father’s death to the authorities of the 8th Arrondissement (ward/borough) of Paris. At the time we had a residence and a small Chapel in that part… The residence had been approved by Cardinal Morlot, Archbishop of Paris in 1860, as a result of the closing of the College at Clichy. Father’s Death Certificate is now in Rome.

Fr. O’Donnell was a boyhood friend of Fr. John McEnroe who was baptized 14 September 1795, the son of Peter McEnroe and Margaret McAuliffe in the parish/diocese of Cashel. He was born in Ardsallagh, Cashel and went to Flynn’s Grammar School in Cashel, then to Maynooth and St. Finian’s in Navan after ordination (Navan Academy). Fr. McEnroe was ordained a priest in Maynooth on Trinity Sunday 1819. He then taught at St. Finian’s Seminary for three years. It was there that Edmund O’Donnell had him as a Professor. In 1822 at the request of Bishop John England in the new diocese of Charleston, SC, Fr. McEnroe left Ireland to help organize the vast diocese. Edmund O’Donnell left with him. They arrived in New York in 1822. In 1829, Fr. McEnroe left for health reasons in 1829 and lived in Clonmel. In 1832, after his health was restored, he was appointed salaried Chaplain for the Colony of Australia with the approval of the Archbishop of Dublin, for Irish soldiers and convicts in Australia. He was 37 years old. He went to N.S. Wales and died as Archdeacon McEnroe August 25, 1868.  We don’t know if Fr. O’Donnell accompanied Fr. McEnroe to Clonmel.

Fr. O’Donnell was ordained April 25,1824 (Cathedral of St. Finbar in Charleston?).The diocese comprised the states of North Carolina, South Caroline, and Georgia, He could have been anywhere in these states. 24 June 1823: Edmund ordained by Bishop England: Tonsure and Porter. 25 November 1823, Edward O’Donnell ordained deacon, a month before, he received Reader, Exorcist, Acolyth, and Subdeacon. (Diary of Bishop John England). Edmund O’Donnell most likely attended Flynn’s Grammar School since he and Fr. McEnroe were boyhood friends. Also he must have gone to “old” St. Finian’s where his friend was a Professor from 1820 till he left in 1822 with Edmund.  The old seminary was opened in 1803 and the new one went to Mullingar in 1908 since the diocesan seat was moved to Mullingar in the later half of the last century. No records were found because of the move.

Edmund O’Donnell was baptized in the parish of Cashel on 7 April 1796, son of John O’Donnell and Joan Caen. His brother Jeremy was baptized on 14 February 1794. (Error on Mother’s name entered as Judith Keane.)

Bishop England already knew Fr. John McEnroe in Maynooth and asked for his help.  St. Finbar’s Cathedral no longer exists today. Built in 1821, it was torn down by Bishop England’s successor, Bishop Ignatius Reynolds who built St. Finbar and St. John the Baptist cathedral completed in 1854. It burned in 1861 and was rebuilt in 1907 as St. John the Baptist. The Bishop’s Residence was destroyed by fire in 1861. Did Fr. O’Donnell go back with Fr. McEnroe? No mention of Fr. O’Donnell in Archbishop Corrigan’s “Register of Clergy labouring in the Archdiocese of New York from early missions until 1899”. An Abbé O’Donnell is listed in 1869 at the Irish College in Paris among the foundations for masses. Between 1824 and 1854 there is a blank on info.

Fr. O’Donnell’s final profession was advanced by a few months at Clichy on 10 August 1856. He had to take the waters at Pierrefonds 14 August – 11 September 1858. He had gone in 1857 also. In 1860, the Founder decided to close Clichy. Fr. O’Donnell stayed in touch with the religious in Australia by letters.

He spoke French and Italian. He translated from Italian into English the “Divina Comedia” of Dante Alghieri published in 1852.In 1854, while on the staff at Clichy, he translated from the French “Le Génie du Christianisme” of Chateaubriand. In 1857, he started translating the two volumes of the “Compendium of St. Thomas’ Theology” and published them in 1859.He was a pioneer of the translators of the “Summa” into English. He was to publish the two volumes of “Sermons of the Gospels of all the Sundays and Principal Festivals of the year” in 1862. Fr. O’Donnell is at Auteuil as of 13 January 1861.

In 1864, Fr. O’Donnell’s health goes downhill. In that year he went to Ireland for the last time. He had bladder trouble. In August 1865 Dr. Gouraud sent him to Vichy for a rest.

Fr. Picard wrote to Fr. d’Alzon at Le Mans 28 January 1869:”A telegram has already informed you of our anxiety. We were terribly worried, poor Fr. O’Donnell could have passed away during the crisis – a high temperature, the death rattle, weak pulse, the oppression, which foretells that death is imminent…. The Good Father edifies us all. He is patient, quiet, simple, allows himself to be cared for like a child, grateful for the least help and is waiting for death with the greatest calm.”

Fr. O’Donnell died at 8:30 a.m. 31 January 1869. Fr. d’Alzon had just arrived that morning from Le Mans. Before saying his mass, he was able to visit the dying priest and religious, conscious to the very end. The Founder was able to give him his blessing. He was buried with the Nuns of the Assumption. The tombstone reads: “I await until my relief comes” (Job his blessing 14:14.)

Map of Ireland

Amédée (François-Albert) Ollier

1864 – 1913

French religious.

Between the Old and the New World.

François-Albert Ollier was born October 4, 1864, in Montpellier (Hérault).  He pursued his secondary education at the minor seminary in Montpellier from 1875 to 1882, then at the major seminary in the same city (1882-87).  On March 25, 1887, he asked to be admitted to the novitiate and received the religious habit at the novitiate in Livry-Gargan (Seine-Saint-Denis) under the name of Brother Amédée.  He made final profession August 15, 1890, in Livry.  After additional studies there, Brother Amédée was sent to the alumnate in Arras (Pas-de-Calais) from 1891 to 1894.  Bishop Pierre-Charles-François Cotton, bishop of Valence and a friend of the Congregation, ordained him a priest in Livry August 10, 1894.

He began his ministry as a proctor and teacher at the Collège de Nîmes (1894-95).  He then left for the New World to become chaplain to the Little Sisters of the Assumption in New York City, replacing Fr. Henri Brun who had died.  He wrote in 1895: “The Dominicans of the Province of Lyons founded at some 28 miles from New York a scholasticate and a novitiate on Rosary Hill.  It is a beautiful spot.  Recently, we were invited to attend a celebration in honor of Saint Albert the Great.  Among the Dominicans who were present, we met several priests who had been in Jerusalem as teachers or students: Frs. Florisoone, Barnabé, Jean-Marie Perrier, and Emile Princet.  They asked us to present their best wishes to the Fathers and Brothers in Jerusalem.”

After two years, Fr. Amédée was asked to participate in an Assumptionist foundation in Louisiana to evangelize the Blacks.  Based in Klotzville, this 19th century Assumptionist missionary undertaking ranks among its least known or most forgotten.  Indeed, at the outset in 1895, Fr. Picard sent three religious to Louisiana: Fr. Marcellin Guyot, Fr. Ildephonse Causse, and a Brother Macaire [?] for the type of mission that would have gladdened the hearts of the Congregation’s Australian adventurers of the 1860s: to evangelize the native black population.

The religious lived in wooden houses that were built in the colonial style of the southern United States and rested on 20 brick columns.  Approximately 1,600 feet away, they opened a chapel and served the surrounding population, traveling throughout the countryside in search of souls.

This evangelizing mission apparently did not meet with the approval of the white population, if we are to believe the account given by Fr. Amédée in February 1898: “Fr. Marcellin had barely set foot in New Orleans when he had to appear before the Committee for Public Order to defend our work against a petition of the local inhabitants, composed of about 50 members of the upper French-speaking aristocracy.  They protested against the creation of a school and a church for colored people on Esplanade Avenue, convinced that such establishments are nuisances for the surrounding properties.  These Creoles who boast being practicing Catholics and declare themselves to be against our sublime work are horrified by the black race.  They become enraged at the very thought that we might establish works for Negroes in their neighborhood.  After three hours of discussion, the Committee decided that our work was a public nuisance for the neighborhood.”  Understandably, the mission was doomed.

Fr. Amédée returned to France in 1900.  He became a chaplain and took care of the mariners on the Isle of Saint Denis.  He was then sent to London (Bethnal Green) from 1903 to 1905, then Charlton (1905-06), Brockley (1906-08), and Newhaven (1908-13) for parish ministry.

After falling sick, he went to San Remo, Italy, and died there December 24, 1913.  According to a circular letter written by Fr. Ferréol Poux-Berthe: “Fr. Amédée arrived from England a few days after the death of Fr. Burgard on October 22 [1913].  His precarious health quickly became worrisome.  Around November 20, he presumed too much on his strength.  After a walk that was too long, he had a serious heart attack, further complicated by an albumen problem.  Within a month, it got the best of his robust constitution.”  He died at the age of 49 and was buried in San Remo.

Addenda.

He was among the very early Fathers to come to the United States. He was an alumnus of the College of Nîmes. He came to New York in 1895, called by Father Henri Brun and went to New Orleans in 1897, remaining there until the mission was closed in 1900. Then he returned to France for a while, but the last ten years of his life were spent in various parishes of England: Charlton, Brockley, and Newhaven.

1905, Charlton,.

“Last August you promised me that, if we decided to print the explanation of the Catechism in pictures of Rev. Fourrières that I had translated in English, you would write a short preface. The Bonne Presse has decided to print this work in English because of our insistance. I am now in the process of reviewing my manuscript with an English lady so that I don’t leave too many serious mistakes and then I recopy it as we get it done bit by bit before sending it to the printer’s. If you can find the time with your many occupations, I would greatly appreciate it if you could write a few lines for me and send them to me as soon as possible so that I can translate them and add them to the rest of the text.

It was impossible to publicize the Catechism in pictures without at least translating this explanation. Afterwards, it will be easy to act. In the religious instruction program, it is recommended to teach the Catechism with the use of religious pictures, Then I could say that I have a famous collection of pictures that would be most useful for the teachers. I shall succeed with the Bishop of Southwark.

Tranquille (M. -Tranquille) Pessoz [Pesse]

1873-1940

Religious of the Province of Paris.

From the East all the way to America.

MarieTranquille Pessoz [On his own, Fr. Tranquille changed his typical Savoyard name ending in America. He kept his baptismal name, Tranquille, which was fitting to his character and behavior as a youth. In 1923, when the time came to choose what province he wanted to belong to, Fr. Tranquille put forth his many years of service in North America and thus relieved the Province of France of his presence.] was born November 1, 1873 at Saint-Jean de Belleville (Savoy) in Tarentaise. After a complete primary schooling, he was admitted to the Notre-dame des Châteaux alumnate (Savoy) in 1888 and spent two years there (1888-1890), then went on to that of Villecomtesse (Yonne) from 1890 to 1891, and did a final year at Clairmarais (Pas-de-Calais) from 1891-1892. He took the religious habit at Livry (Seine-Saint-Denis) December 25, 1892 and took a ship for Phanaraki (Turkey) where he did his two years of novitiate. He pronounced his first vows December 25, 1893 and his perpetual vows September 28, 1895. He began his philosophy at Phanaraki while taking care of the small public school in that district in 1896. In September 1896, he became a student at the house of studies in Kadi-Keuï until 1900. He was ordained to the priesthood September 2, 1900. Having been named superior of the house in Ismidt (Turkey), he stayed there five years (1900-1905). He was then sent to North America where, during four years, he worked toward the foundation of the college in Worcester since he was named superior (1905-1909). Then he was part of the New York community at 14th Street for 12 years (1910-1924), excluding the two years during the war when he was in Lyon (Rhône) first as infirmarian, then at the control post. He was sent in 1924 as superior to the Bergerville novitiate in Quebec, which was being founded.

An end of life diminished by illness.

In 1930, he left America to return to France. His health, formerly robust, was shaken by light cerebral hemorrhages that required a total rest. The 1931 Directory of Religious placed him at Les Essarts (Seine-Maritime), in 1932 at Lille (North), from 1933 to 1935 at Montpellier (Hérault), in 1936 at Davézieux (Ardèche) and in October 1930 at Lorgues (Var). In fact, Fr. Tranquille suffered from inactivity forced upon him because of his health. He tried to fight as long as he could against a slow decline of health that he knew was inevitable. In October 1936, he had to give up all active apostolate. A long four-year illness tested him at the school of daily suffering. And yet, for him, cheerfulness, even in the midst of his sufferings, never lost its place. A brilliant talker, he lost bit by bit his speech and could only mumble inarticulate words. At times, the expression of his gestures and face replaced the inability of his lips. His illness also obliged him to eat often, with little portions. His appetite was insatiable. That was why he had to make use of little stratagems to fool the vigilance of the dining-hall master who rationed the bread. Until the last months of his life, he was seen strolling about leaning on his cane. When he judged that the time and length of his promenade were insufficient, he needed at least two infirmarians to oblige him to turn back, since he knew how to give passive resistance and even threaten with his cane. Dragged to his bed, it was not long before he fell asleep, conquered by these efforts. His infirmarian, Fr. Ignace Ignadossian, prepared him slowly for the final day: “When you arrive at the gate to Paradise, next to Saint Peter, remind him not to forget an old Armenian who would very much like to enter!” During the last seven months of his existence, Fr. Tranquille was nothing more than a vegetable. After another cerebral attack, Thursday, May 30, 1940, at the age of 67, Fr. Tranquille died and was buried at Lorgues.

Addenda.

Father Tranquille was Superior at Assumption in Worcester from 1905 to 1909 and then resided at Our Lady of Guadalupe in New York until around 1925, except during the war when he served in the armed forces of France. During many years, he was common superior of North America, still a part of the Province of Paris. He became our first Superior in Canada, in the house founded by Father Marie-Clément Staub, at Quebec, a house that was both a novitiate and a shrine in honor of the Sacred Heart. He was a man of good humor, practical jokes, and plays on words. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Worcester, 1920.

“Here is the general report. I stayed in Worcester for three weeks; most of the religious spoke with me. All of them without exception speak of living in great discomfort that makes them tired and discouraged because of the Superior [Marie-Louis Deydier]. They do not dare speak with him, suggest thoughts concerning the program of studies, discipline, or any other subject. If they say something that does not agree with his own way of thinking, he rejects what they say peremptorily, he gets upset, and says that the professor who suggested such an idea is a bad religious. Each day there is a new major project that is forgotten the next day. The pedagogical meetings bring about no results, except arguments and heated discussions that are unfortunate because of this way of proceeding. As a result, the professors try to do the best they can by themselves; they either follow or do not follow the programs set up in their classes and nobody oversees them. Fr. Louis-Marie lacks understanding, tact, and diplomacy in the way he governs the house and the students avoid and detest him. Concerning the religious, untimely and unmotivated observations are made to them each day. He seems too jealous of his authority and it would seem that he wants to dominate everything”.

Vincent Ferrier (François-Louis) Petro

1885-1968

French religious of the Province of North America.

A life in America.

François Louis Petro was born March 31, 1885 at Saint-Caradec, a small village of the diocese of Vannes (Morbihan), Brittany. His parents, rich property owners, had him follow courses with the Brothers of Ploermel. He kept an ardent taste for reading, especially works of history and geography. Later on, he had a special love for the review Historia and for spy stories. Since his memory was faithful, he would talk forever on certain subjects, especially on world history concerning espionage and sabotage. From 1901 to 1907, he did his studies at the minor seminary of Sainte-Anne d’Auray, after the courses at the Saint-Jean Baptiste College in Guéméné-sur-Scorff. He then practiced the profession of notary’s clerk at Master Daniel’s at Guéméné, then with Master Husson at Chitenay, a small village near Blois (Loir-et-Cher), from 1907 to 1909. April 27, 1910, he took the religious habit at the Assumption, under the name of Brother Vincent-Ferrier, at Louvain. After 9 months of regular novitiate at Louvain, he was sent to New York (U.S.A.) where he stayed ten years as a lay brother without vows. His situation was straightened out April 27, 1920 by a first annual profession: “Regardless of a character that is a bit sharp and fiery, and at times with a certain crudity in language, Brother Vincent can become a good lay brother. He is well intentioned and devoted. He will always be useful in a house for work and charges that do not require special aptitudes”, wrote Fr. Tranquille Pesse. Brother Vincent was able to pronounce his perpetual vows in Worcester July 12, 1924. From that moment on, he had only one residence, Worcester, from 1921 to 1968. He was affiliated to the North American Province and became an American citizen. He was at first employed as sacristan and fac-totum in the parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New York. At the college in Worcester, he did the humble domestic jobs of cleaning and maintenance. He worked from morning to night, in one place or another, without ever stopping. He especially saw to it that the ravages and damages that took place inside a secondary school like the Preparatory School were repaired. He did this without saying anything or causing any problems. The students appreciated him for his protective discretion. At night, after the interns had gone to bed, he walked through the halls and the corridors to shut doors and windows and put out the lights that were burning needlessly. He only rested once he had ascertained that all was in order. A religious with a great spirit of charity, he never made an unfavorable remark against one of his confreres. He was an enemy of all criticism and defended on the spot the one who was being attacked and saw to it that the conversation changed subject if people were critical of a confrere during a conversation. Very thrifty, he dressed himself from head to toe with what his Brothers gave him. At the time of more official visits to the outside, he almost had to be forced to wear more decent clothes. It was not a surprise that at the time of his death there was almost nothing in his things to pack. Brother Vincent’s death came about on November 2, 1968, at the age of 84, after a long and painful illness that he endured with great patience. A fall in August 1967 saw him break his hip. Even though he was operated, he became almost impotent, unable to care for himself or do the least work. He was placed under the care of Brothers Jean Saint-Pierre and François Lachance with the help of Brother Richard Mandeville, infirmarian in Worcester, who was a precious help. Brother Armand Goffart gave the added light of his experience and encouragement for his longtime friend of more than 50 years to the fraternal ministrations that were given Brother Vincent right up to the end.

Addenda.

His parents objected to his becoming a lay brother and, because of this, he postponed his first profession for 10 years. He had a brother who was a secular priest who died 14 years after being ordained. Brother Vincent was a model of kindness and humility. He always took the time to speak with the students who stopped to talk with him. He would meet Brother Armand Goffart daily at the wine cellar for a little glass of wine. When he watched the news on TV, he was easily upset by the sufferings of people. He was buried first at Assumption Preparatory School in Worcester, Massachusetts on 5 November 1968. He visited his home in Brittany in the summer of 1960. Bro. Vincent was naturalized as an American citizen on 2 April 1930. He was born at Brangolo en Saint-Caradec-Trégomel.

Notes on Brother Vincent Petro by Fr. Marius Dumoulin, A.A.

On 2 November 1968, God called back to Himself our dearly beloved Brother Vincent Petro, after a lengthy and painful illness accepted with admirable patience. He fell in August of 1967 and broke a hip. He was operated but remained almost impotent, unable to care for himself. He returned to the hospital on 19 November 1967 and was put under the care of Brothers Jean St-Pierre and François Lachance from Quebec… The Little Sisters of the Assumption in Worcester also came to visit him several times a week to care for him. He had received the Anointing of the Sick several times during his long illness. He died almost totally conscious surrounded by his Brothers in prayer.

… He had received fine courses from the Brothers of Ploermel. He liked to read and had a good training in geography and history. He was able to cite from memory all of the departments of France and in history, the dates of countless events. Many times, we tried to test him on these points, but rarely did he fail to answer correctly!

He was an avid reader of the magazine “Historia”. He read a lot, especially books on spies and sabotage… He could be teased concerning his opinions, but only smiled and didn’t change his opinion. He had a happy temperament and in his daily life had an even humor and a great simplicity that was disarming. All liked him. On the occasion of a feast, he liked to speak in the dining hall. But once he had started, there was no stopping him. He had to be told when it was long enough, and he would accept this humbly and return to his seat joyfully.

A hardcore Breton, he knew his maternal tongue and didn’t hesitate to show it. In his conversation, he would use the word of his tongue right next to the French word that had just been said. At Christmas, when the gifts were being opened and Christmas carols were being sung, Brother Vincent never hesitated to sing old tunes from his home. Once launched, he had to be stopped again.

Bro. Vincent was sent from Louvain to America in September 1910, right after his postulancy and a short novitiate. He first went to our parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe in New York. In 1921, he was transferred to the College in Worcester, which later became the Preparatory School. He would remain there the rest of his life. He never had the desire for more important work. He did the most humble jobs: house cleaning, sweeping, dusting. He worked from morning to night without stopping… In his later years, weakened by old age, he had greatly slowed down. He would sit before the TV and sleep a long time.

Concerning his religious life, Bro. Vincent did not show any special aptitude for prayer except for the common exercises. And yet, he was remarkable by his charity. He never would speak ill of others…

Such was the life of Brother Vincent: a good religious, tireless worker, sower of good humor. His humility and charity will certainly have opened the doors of heaven to him. He rests here below in the company of the fathers and Brothers that he loved; in Paradise, they will have received him with special affection and given him an important place in their ranks. ~He had a good education but chose the humblest possible way of life. His vows were delayed for many years because his parents wanted to see him go on to the priesthood, as had one of his brothers. He came to the Congregation as a “familiar” and was immediately sent in 1910 to New York. He worked at Our Lady of Guadalupe until 1921, and then spent the next 47 years sweeping floors at Assumption Prep in Worcester. After the tornado, he remained at Assumption Prep. He pronounced his vows in 1920 and his perpetual vows in 1924.

He was a very hard worker and an original character. He was easily aroused to express his thoughts in a rather forceful way, never letting anyone forget that he was from Brittany. He bore his long illness with great patience and was cared for by his brothers and the Little Sisters of the Assumption. He was buried at the Prep School cemetery then transferred to Fiskdale.

Pacôme (Antoine-Marie) Philip

1891-1979

Religious of French origin of the Province of North America, provincial treasurer (1947-1951).

Citizen of the world.

Antoine Marie Philippe was born in Brittany, March 15, 1891, at Lanvaudan (Morbihan). All of his secondary studies were done in the alumnates of Le Bizet (Belgium) from 1904 to 1907and Elorrio in Spain from 1907 to 1909. At first, he decided to enter the Carmelites, but his health problems did not permit him to remain. The Vannes major seminary refused to accept him because he had tried religious life. He then turned toward the Assumption. May 8, 1910, he took the habit at Gempe (Belgium) under the name of Brother Pacôme. Annually professed May 17, 1911, he went to the Limpertsberg novitiate (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg) where he pronounced his perpetual vows May 19, 1912. His philosophy took place at Louvain from 1912 to 1914 and his theology at Rome from 1914 to 1918. He was ordained a priest March 3, 1917. Immediately after this, he was named to the community of the college in Worcester (U.S.A.) where he taught until 1931, except for an interruption when he went to the parish in New York (1921-1923), and then he was treasurer until 1938. At this time, he began a long life of priestly ministry with the Latinos in the two parishes of New York, Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Esperanza, going between 14th Street and 156th Street. In turn, superior and curate, he added the job of provincial treasurer to his parish responsibilities from 1947 to 1951. He hesitated for a time before asking to be affiliated with the young North American Province although he had become a naturalized American citizen since April 2, 1924. He finished three terms as superior and pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe from 1949 to 1958 and 1961 to 1964. In 1964, he was named to the Fiskdale sanctuary and returned toward the end of his life to the Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. Always even tempered, smiling, and lively, Fr. Pacôme who once again took his baptismal name of Antoine-Marie, was appreciated by his confreres for his willingness to help, his sense of organization, and his apostolic devotedness. He was known for his preaching and had a fine sense of public relations. All during his life, his health gave him some problems, since he suffered from hypertrophy. It was during his long years of ministry in New York that he had a widely known reputation as a confessor and spiritual guide. Each week, he was assiduous at his confessional at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Each day, he greeted with simplicity and friendliness the many unknown persons who came to the parishes of the Assumptionists or who came to get help. He did not hide his contacts with well-known personalities in the world such as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, or Gypsy Rose Lee. His interest in the future of the Congregation manifested itself in many ways. Before everything else, Fr. Antoine was a very practical man who knew very well the needs and desires of the Province. Each year, he wished to take a great part in vocational work by getting money for the formation of the young religious. He reached the ripe old age of 88 and, in his old days, liked to entertain his confreres with personal memories that he had kept of the ‘elders’ of the Assumption, notably Fr. Emmanuel Bailly who received his perpetual vows at Limpertsberg or Fr. Joseph Maubon who gave him his first obedience in 1918. With the proverbial tenacity attributed to certain Bretons, he was able to remain active in ministry until the age of 86. At that time, his health forced him to take a well-deserved retirement. He died November 21, 1979. Fr. Edgar Bourque, at the time Provincial of the North American Province, presided his funeral noting that Fr. Antoine Marie was the first Assumptionist in one hundred years who had dared to die on the same day as Father d’Alzon, November 21.

Addenda.

Charity in Action by Rev. Anthony M. Philippe. [The New York Savings News, October 1956, 2]

The other day, O came across a line from Shaw’s play, “Heartbreak House” –A man’s interest in the world is only the overflow from his interest in himself.” Any real hope for the betterment of the world at large must be founded on the sincere attempt of each individual to put his own house in order.

The old scholastic philosophers put it in yet another way with their axiom, “No one can give what he has not got.” It is hard to expect peace for the world from men who are not at peace with themselves--and to be at peace with themselves, they must first be at peace with God. The foundation of this peace is belief in God.

It is not a mere intellectual assent to His existence, but the deep conviction of the supreme reality of spiritual things and values which expresses itself in love of God above all things and in love of all men, especially the poor and the lowly.

It is to this faith that God has promised victory: not to what the Pope calls “A vague sense of Christianity, flabby and empty,” which never really convinces the mind and consequently never really moves the heart. In other words, mere lip service to the words of Christ, with never an attempt to let them permeate the structure of private and public life, will never be sufficient.

Christianity Not Tried.

We know that a great part of the world prides itself on being Christian: but we need only turn the pages of history, or indeed of the daily newspapers to see that there must be something wrong with the world’s idea of Christianity—and every thinking man must agree with those who say, “It is not that Christianity has failed—it has never been really tried.” If we do not sincerely believe that God is Our Father and fashion our lives accordingly, on what grounds can we regard all men as brothers?

True and applied Christianity means a deep interest in and sympathy with our fellow men and their needs, whether spiritual or temporal. So often the world’s Christianity finds expression in a supreme detachment and indifference to others… like the ferryman who was asked by a penniless tramp for a ride across the river.

“That will cost 3 cents,: he replied. “But,” said the traveler, “I haven’t 3 cents in the world.” “Well, look,” said the ferryman, “The way I see it, a man who doesn’t have 3 cents is just as well off here as on the other side of the river.”

A Good Example.

The world needs more Christians like Abbé Pierre, the French priest who led what he called. “The Rebellion of Kindness.” He was no professional social reformer. He had no preconceived plan. He just happened to be a man who took literally Christ’s words about the hungry and the homeless. When people came for help, he just did all that he could for them and was later surprised to find himself as the founder of an Emergency City, which houses thousands of homeless Parisians.

For him, God was in everyone—the poor, the tramp, the liar, and the thief. And so a little girl could write to him, “We were so miserable when we had no roof over our heads. I thought all men were cruel. Now I think I am wrong. Maybe there are more good people than bad. But until now, I had never met them.”

When Abbé Pierre launched an appeal for aid, not only all France, but the world responded with amazing generosity—and then Abbé Pierre accused France of one great crime—that people did not know that such conditions pf poverty and destitution existed.

The Crime Is Ours.

And can we not all accuse ourselves of this crime, that when a poor man comes for a handout, we are not sufficiently interested to think of him as a person, to wonder what chain of misfortunes brought him to this condition, to wonder what he eats, or where he sleeps, or the reason of it all.

When we really know ourselves with all our weaknesses, then we can have sympathy for those less fortunate. When we ourselves are convinced that our purpose in life is to show our love of God through love of our fellowmen, then we will be in a position to influence others by word and example. We must be interested enough in ourselves to look clearly at the meaning of our existence and convince ourselves of it—then we can sagely leave the rest to our heart.

Only when we know about ourselves can we know about others. And interest comes and grows with knowledge.

Father Philippe died on November 21st. Father d’Alzon died on November 21st ninety-nine years before. And no other Assumptionist has ever died on that day. It strikes me that there is something important for the Province in that fact. I would like to propose that the Centennial Tear that the Congregation is celebrating in 1980 began in our Province with the death of Father Philippe.

Ninety-nine years is a long time. Fr. Philippe’s death has made me want to find deeper reasons than time to understand why we would want to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of a man’s death. Part of the reason is the gratitude we have in our hearts that Fr. d’Alzon’s spirit still lives on in his sons and daughters. A hundred years is a long time for a man’s spirit to be still that vital.

And eighty-eight years is a long time. That made of Fr. Philippe an old man. We all know that we face the death of the elderly in a different way than we face the death of the young. It is easier to think in terms of glory and resurrection when there is present the notion of ripeness and readiness. It doesn’t mean that there is no sadness or loss. But we are freer to consider the gain.

This morning’s Gospel shows us Jesus giving us an important lesson about the Kingdom of God. He had called a little child to Him and told His disciples: “Unless you turn and become like this child the Kingdom of Heaven will never be yours.” Jesus is not tending an invitation to return to a childhood once known. Certainly, there is notion here of going back. He is speaking of a turning, a conversion, of going to a place where we have never been before—to a new reality that only He can make possible.

As the Province goes through this most recent loss, I’m mindful of the first loss it experienced way back in 1929. Father Louis-Robert was the first American vocation and he was the first American to die. He was a young priest. Fr. Angelome Cleux, A.A, wrote the story of his short life. He entitled his book ”The Dawn of a Soul.” In writing about the dawning of a soul, he didn’t at all have the idea that Fr. Louis’ premature death meant that he had failed to realize a sanctity that was waiting for him in a future he would never know. When we speak of this specific gift of God, the dawning and the setting are as one. Because of his age, if anyone here were called upon to write the life of Fr. Philippe, he might be tempted to call his book “The Setting of a Soul.” The writer could easily think that God had completed His work in him because of the time. But in the same way that we didn’t think that anything was missing in the life of Fr. Louis-Robert because he died young, we shouldn’t think of Fr. Philippe or anyone else not being at the point of a grand new beginning even when he had come to the end of a long life. The reason is the same in both instances. God’s work has no beginning and no end.

Ever since Fr. Philippe died, I’ve been asking myself what his turning or conversion might have been. What was his secret? All Assumptionists know that Fr. d’Alzon wanted for us spirituality as broad as the Church. There was nothing exclusive in his spirit. He encouraged us to go to Saint Augustine, but also to Saint John of the Cross and to Saint Francis de Sales. But in all of this, who left the strongest mark on Fr. Philippe? I opt for St. Francis de Sales. His qualities of simplicity, of sweetness, of graciousness, all bear the Salesian marks of holiness. When a man carries all these traits in his character it is usually because he has been able to build on great strength. Fr. Philippe was not a weak man. Behind his sweetness, meekness, kindness, and brotherliness, one could sense a great pushing and strength. Is it any wonder that at eighty-seven years old, this man could not accept not to be working? One of the saddest days of his life was when he had to be told not only by his superior but also by the pastor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral that he could no longer go there for confessions on Saturday afternoons. Everyone was worried about Fr. Philippe except Fr. Philippe himself.

The line of holy men in which Fr. Philippe placed himself by following the spirituality of St. Francis de sales was that of those who had learned that they were small because God is great. Abraham, Moses, and David are truly little ones of the Bible even if they stand as giants. They had discovered that all they had been called to do had really been done by God.

In going through Fr. Philippe’s papers after his death, I found a pact, a covenant that he had made with St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus when he was forty years old. He wrote: “I choose you as my special patron. I put the rest of my life under your guidance and protection. I declare this a spiritual friendship. I want you to consider me as your brother, your priest, your missionary.” And this is the way Fr. Philippe lived his priestly life.  For the first twenty years, it was as a teacher and later treasurer at Assumption College. Then he worked for over forty years in New York City at the parishes of Esperanza and Guadalupe. He served four terms as superior and pastor at Guadalupe. The last time he was appointed there, he was seventy years old. He was also seventy years old when Father Henri appointed him Provincial Treasurer. That might have surprised a lot of people, but we can be sure that it did not surprise Fr. Philippe.

Fr. Philippe saw his work with the Spanish-speaking people of New York City, as well as his work with the poor there, as missionary work. He saw this as a response to the call of the Gospel and the Church to care for the weak, the oppressed, the needy, and the poor. In the past few days, this idea has become clearer and stronger for me. Here was a poor man, a humble man, a simple man, serving the poor. Henry Nouwen has a book entitled “The Wonderful Healer.” Any priest knows from experience that to work with the weak and the sinful is to see reflected in them his own weakness and sinfulness. Today, as we try to penetrate the meaning of Fr. Philippe’s journey, we can see so clearly that there is another side of the story from that of the wounded healer. There is the side of the healed healer—the healer who is on his way to wholeness. Fr. Philippe was a healer who reached out to the wounded having experienced a turning, a conversion, having been blessed with God’s grace. Being conscious of that grace, as well as of his weakness, allowed him to serve them with trust, simplicity, and kindness. He was good because he had experienced God’s goodness.

Because Fr. Philippe lived a long time, he had many celebrations in his life. He brought child-likeness to these celebrations. I had the privilege of attending some of his parties. People came to expect that sooner or later he would pull out of his pocket a document yellow with age. It was a letter he had received from the General of the Assumptionists, Fr. Emmanuel Bailly, in 1917 on the occasion of his ordination to the priesthood. One of the thoughts expressed in that long letter was the following: “The spirit of our Assumptionist religious life requires of us an exceptional love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Propter amorem Domini Nostri Jesu Christi’!” This was the second motto that Fr. d’Alzon had given his sons to guide them along their spiritual journey. Fr. Bailly continues: “How could we love Him more than to love Him the way He loves us? And where does He give us a better proof of His love than at the altar where He re-enacts His birth, His earthly life, His suffering and death, and His resurrection?”

These words reflect well the spirit of Fr. d’Alzon. If we are to understand fully Fr. Philippe’s spiritual journey, it isn’t enough to see how a St. Francis de Sales and a St. Thérèse of Lisieux influenced his growth in specific moral virtues such as simplicity and meekness. The strongest and most fundamental influence in his life was the Assumptionist spirituality and the centrality it gives to the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ. I happened to be in Rome a few days before Fr. Philippe’s death, when the General House community opened its Centennial Year. In his homily, Father General said: “Of all the things that characterize an Assumptionist, that which is most basic and what is most simple is that Fr, d’Alzon is our father.” No other congregation, other than those founded by him, can claim him as father. That is simplicity itself. We all know that what makes us members of an earthly family is that we have parents that are proper to us. This is the rock foundation that makes us what we are. We can do all the theologizing we want about the spirit of Assumption, but we always have to return to the simple truth that Fr. d’Alzon is our father. And this is what we must keep in mind this morning as we say good-bye to Fr. Philippe who follows him in death during the Centennial celebration. What marked Fr. Philippe most was that he was a son of Fr. d’Alzon. The reason he liked Fr. Bailly’s letter was that it reminded him so strongly of who he was and of the ideal he had embraced as a young religious: to love Our Lord with an exceptional love.

(Funeral homily for Fr. Antoine Philippe]

Elisée (Joseph- Marie-Désiré) Rathoin

1896-1977

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A formation during wartime.

Joseph-Marie-Désiré Rathoin was born April 27, 1896 at Fleury-les-Aubrais (Loiret). He did his primary studies at the Olivet Brothers’ school and at the Saint-Léon de la Ferté School. Fr. Didier Nègre recruited him in an orphanage run by Sisters and brought him to Zepperen (Belgium) in September 1908. Once he had finished his grammar school, Joseph went, in 1911, to the enchanting banks of the Lac Majeur in Ascona (Switzerland) for two years of humanities. Once he had finished rhetoric, he decided to enter the Assumption and, August 14, 1913, with 34 companions at Limpertsberg, he received the religious habit from the hands of Fr. Emmanuel Bailly, under the name of Brother Elisée. Then came the war, and Luxembourg was invaded at the beginning of August 1914. All contacts were cut off between the novitiate and the other houses of the Congregation. Brother Elisée was unable to pronounce his first vows until May 19, 1918 at Louvain, after having known living conditions that forced the novitiate religious to work on farms and study philosophy the best they could. In 1919, he spent a few months at the Montargis barracks. November 6, 1921, he was able to pronounce his perpetual vows and August 5, 1923 saw him ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Wachter, auxiliary of Malines.

An eventful teaching career (1923-1947).

In September 1923, Fr. Elisée was sent to the College of l’Assomption in Nîmes (Gard). At that time, the college was very short of space on boulevard Jean-Jaurès where an old boarding school used to be. He taught the first two years of high school with Fr. Arthur Deprez as superior. He was competent, methodical, devoted, and much appreciated by his students; liberal, indulgent, and conciliatory, Fr. Elisée was not always able to control these little Southerners and the deans of discipline had to regain control without hesitating. In 1927, he went to the late vocations St-Denis house, north of Paris, that was run by Fr. Didier Nègre. In August 1929, Fr. Clodoald Sérieix, new Provincial of Paris, chose him for the college in Worcester (U.S.A.) where a third year high school class needed a teacher for French and Latin. Father Elisée inserted himself with joy into the teaching staff and the numerous community of that time. When in 1936, young American religious were able to take over, he returned to France. He was named to the Vérargues alumnate (Hérault) where he was given courses in history and geography to teach. He also had charge of two small local parishes, Saturargues and Villetelle (1936-1947). Fr. Elisée, the teacher, suffered regardless of his great indignation when faced with the lack of discipline and pranks of his young audience that knew it could count on his paternal goodness. In 1936, he was the victim of a bicycle accident that left him limping lightly. This did not stop him from being called to serve in the military health services in 1939-1940. A religious willing to help, with quick, direct speech, easily angered but quickly appeased, he was always ready in his apostolate to help someone who was in difficulty. In community, he was a charming confrere, with sparkling humor and wit, and jovial.

Curate at Saint-Christophe de Javel and Arras.

In 1947, Fr. Elisée was named to the Parisian parish of Javel where he remained 17 years (1947-1964). He was curate, treasurer, and factotum. Fr. Raymond Bourré, his companion, compared him willingly to three apostles: Nathaniel, Peter, and Thomas. Of Nathaniel, he had the naiveté, the childish and even naïve character accepting without question what was told him, but also the frankness and impertinence. Of Peter, he had the total generosity and zeal, at times untimely. Thanks to his kindness, his office and the church became the hangout for tramps. Fr. Elisée was their generous chaplain and ardent defender. Fiery, carried away by his enthusiasm, at times, in his homilies he made blunders or gave rough formulas. Of Thomas, he also had tenacious incredulity when faced with certain types of evidence. How could one get him to understand that a stove set for 30 degrees centigrade condemned the apartment to being cold, while consuming the coal ineffectively, or to install a tramp in the crypt with a straw mattress and blankets, was to risk a fire? In September 1964, Fr. Elisée was transferred to the community of Fr. Halluin’s house at Arras (Pas-de-Calais), to be the chaplain for the Saint-Antoine chapel. He was a wise confessor and an exemplary chaplain. He had the gift of attracting people and accepted to be disturbed at any hour. He walked the streets of the city, with his quick and staccato pace, to visit the sick and infirm. He liked to put flowers in the chapel at all seasons and brighten up the ceremonies with hymns. One day in March 1972, he was literally floored by illness. He was taken to Chanac (Lozère) March 29, 1972 for a bit of rest. He was hospitalized several times at Mende. He died in the night of January 23, 1977 and was buried on Tuesday, January 25 at Chanac, in the Vals cemetery.

Addenda.

Worcester, 1933.

“On this side of the Ocean, we didn’t like the speculative arguments of the Europeans; we don’t understand anything; we prefer what is tangible, real, practical as Victor Hugo would say in Les Choses Vues. We prefer the illustration of ideas by photos. Here is the description of the Villa d’Alzon at Baker Lake: Would it be the convalescent home of a descendant of one of these brave colonists of the XVIth century or the summer home of one of those bosses of modern industry? Neither one nor the other. It is the name of a cottage of the faculty of Assumption College. Where is it situated? Go quickly by car to the south of Worcester, on the beautiful route of Webster, turn at Oxford and here we are in the woods of Baker Pond. What a nice smell and freshness! Open your lungs, breathe this pure air, and notwithstanding the bumps of the road, dream of the charm of the sunny woods. A last detour and you come to a small prairie with two or three old bungalows that seem to bathe in the deep waters of a silvery lake. Through the pines and birches you can see the light colors of an elegant wooden house. It seems to be quite large, seated on its stone foundations...”

Zacharie (Bernard) Saint-Martin

1875-1932

Religious of the Province of Paris.

Formation and first ministry.

Bernard Saint-Martin was born July 15, 1875 in Vieille-Adour (Hautes-Pyrénées). He went to the Arras alumnate, in the Pas-de-Calais (1887-1890), then to the nearby one at Clairmarais (1891-1892). Because of health reasons, he was sent to the Midi, to the Brian alumnate (Drôme) to finish his humanities (1892-1893). He took the religious habit at the Livry novitiate (Seine-Saint-Denis) August 15, 1893 under the name of Brother Zacharie. Fr. Joseph Maubon who gave him the habit at Livry attracted him to the East. Brother Zacharie set sail in June 1894 for Phanaraki (Turkey) where he finished, under the direction of Fr. Ernest Baudouy, his novitiate and pronounced his perpetual vows August 15, 1895. At that time, he was sent to teach at the Eski-Chéïr School for three years (1895-1898). In 1899, he began his philosophy at Kadikoy and pursued these studies as well as his theology at Notre-Dame of France in Jerusalem. Msgr. Piavi ordained him a priest December 20, 1902. From 1903 to 1904, he taught at the Varna College in Bulgaria. In 1905, he went to the Calahorra alumnate in Spain where he learned Spanish.

Parish ministry in New York.

In 1906, he was sent to New York, United States, where he gave himself to parish ministry in the two Latino-American parishes, Our Lady of Guadalupe until 1914, and Our Lady of Esperanza from 1914 to 1919, [Concerning this parish, see the booklet edited by Fr. Crescent Armanet, Church of Our Lady of Esperanza, New York, 1921, 159 pages.], at which time he returned to 14th Street. In 1911, a first attack of tuberculosis forced him to take a time of rest. He returned to Europe for a year at San Remo, on the Italian coast. In 1913, he was able to return to work in New York. His health situation dispensed him from any military service during the First World War and he was thus able to give himself totally to the animation of the two New York parishes. He visited the sick assiduously in the hospitals and chaplaincies. He was also bursar for the 14th Street community (1920). In 1924, he was chosen as a counselor. He took great care in preparing his sermons in English and Spanish. Because of this, he was greatly esteemed by his parishioners. In her autobiography, Dorothy Day gave witness to the spiritual help that the ministry of Fr. Zacharie gave her at the time of her conversion. In 1930, Fr. Zacharie has a burnout and had to be sent to a sanatorium run by Sisters in upper New York. The following year, he returned to the great metropolis, but it was to be hospitalized with the Franciscan Sisters in the Bronx. During a crisis, he had Fr. Paul de la Croix Journet called. This latter found him seated on his bed shaving. When Fr. Zacharie asked him for confession and the sacrament of the sick, he simply said with great calm to his confrere: “Pass me the breviary and I‘ll be able to follow the prayers.” On September 13, 1932, Fr. Clodoald Sérieix, Provincial of Paris in charge of the vicariate of North America, visited him with the superiors of the New York communities. The 23d, feeling that his end was close, Fr. Zacharie received the viaticum and died September 26, at the age of 57, while trying for the last time to make the sign of the cross. His body was buried in the Assumptionist cemetery, near the college in Worcester where Brother Eleutherios and Fr. Louis Robert were already buried.

Addenda.

Article on St. Therese of Lisieux by Dorothy Day in Catholic Worker, Oct.-Nov. 2003, 5.

My confessor at the time was Father Zachary, an Augustinian Father of the Assumption, stationed at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe on West Fourteenth Street. He was preparing me for confirmation, giving me a weekly evening of instruction.

One day, Father Zachary said to me, “Here is a book that will do you good.” He had already given me Challoner’s Meditations and the St. Andrew Missal. The book he now handed me was The Little White Flower: The Story of a Soul, an unbound book which had a tan cover with a not too attractive picture of a young nun with a sweet insipid face, holding a crucifix and a huge bouquet of roses… I wasn’t looking for anything so simple and felt slightly aggrieved at Father Zachary. Men, even priests, were very insulting to women, I thought, handing out what they felt suited their intelligence – in other words, pious pap… I told Father Zachary, trying to convert him to my point of view. Living as we were in a time of world revolution, when, as I felt, the people of the world were rising to make a better world for themselves, I wondered what this new saint had to offer…

I was so new a Catholic that I was still working for this committee for some months after my Baptism, and I talked to Father Zachary about the work. “I am in agreement with it,” I told him. : We should not be sending troops to Nicaragua. I am in agreement with many of the social aims of Communism. ‘From each according to his ability and to each according to his need,’”

Father Zachary could only quote Lenin to me, saying, “Atheism is basic to Marxism.” He was the gentlest of confessors with me, who, at that time, was a female counterpart of Graham Greene’s Quiet American, wanting to do good by violence.

After one year in Bulgaria and one year in Spain, he came to New York and was curate at Our Lady of Guadalupe for 27 years. He received Thomas Merton back to the practice of the faith. He died at Our Lady of Esperanza and was buried in the Prep School cemetery in Worcester.

New York, 1926.

“The Assumptionist religious of the two houses in New York have the rare privilege of being totally given over to a ministry of souls. They do so with zeal and success in both Hispano-American sanctuaries where it is our joy to see prayers, confessions, and communions grow. The Latino faithful are our raison d’être and deserve our main attention even though they have less financial resources. The ministry demands the use of two foreign languages that need to become more and more familiar to them. In order to do so, I ask that we no longer speak French at one of the two meals and reserve this meal to read or speak Spanish or English. For the sermons in Spanish, it is normal to have recourse to the two Spanish Fathers who can alternate in both churches. To the parish work that we need to do very well, we should not be afraid to take on a bit of outside ministry if the occasion presents itself. However we should avoid limiting ourselves to simple chaplaincies…”

The Autobiography of Dorothy Day: The Long Loneliness 151-152.

I never regretted for one minute the step which I had taken in becoming a Catholic, but I repeat that for a year there was little joy for me as the struggle continued. I knew a good priest who helped me along the way. I was living in New York that winter and went to confession in a church on West Fourteenth Street, Our Lady of Guadaloupe. It was a narrow little church, served by the Augustinian Fathers of the Assumption, and there were masses at seven, eight and nine o’clock each morning. Before every Mass priests came from the rectory next door to hear confessions. There were three confessionals on either side of the entrance door, and there were bells on the confessionals so that at any other time of the day one could ring a bell and a priest would appear. My priest’s name was Father Zachary and his previous assignment had been in the Holy Land. He was a Spaniard, a gentle old man who was good and patient with me. He was so gentle that one welcomed his questions, and when he found that I was baptized but not confirmed he began preparing me for confirmation. He gave me Challoner’s book of meditations to read and a St. Andrew’s missal so that I could learn to follow the seasons of the Church.

Lambert (Joseph-Théodore) Saive

1883-1955

Belgian religious of the Province of Paris (1928), then North America (1947).

Formation.

Joseph Théodore Saive was born November 22, 1883 at Liège in Belgium, son of Joseph and Ursuline née Galoppin. He began his studies at Laeken, near Brussels, and went to a boarding school run by the Sisters of Perpetual Help from 1892 to 1894 before entering Saint-Michel College (1894-1895). He became an alumnist at Taintegnies (1895-1899) and finished his humanities at Clairmarais in France (Pas-de-Calais), from 1899 to 1901. September 25, 1901, Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly vested him with the religious habit at the Louvain novitiate, under the name of Brother Lambert. Fr. Félicien Vandenkoornhuyse wrote about him: “Brother Lambert had a difficult time at the beginning of his novitiate. Of an impetuous nature, he was always on the move. He has a great need to communicate his impressions and doesn’t know how to give his tongue a rest. He is easily provoked to fight and is quarrelsome. He has a number of originalities and acts strangely at times. I must say that during his second year of novitiate, he corrected these faults thanks to concerted efforts on his part. He now keeps silence. Even if he is not yet a model of meekness, he doesn’t constantly look for quarrels with his confreres”. Brother Lambert pronounced his perpetual vows October 18, 1903 at Louvain where he also studied philosophy from 1903 to 1905. Following our tradition, he was then asked to teach in apostolic houses: Le Bizet, from 1905 to 1906; Zepperen, from 1906-1907; and finally Vinovo in Italy, from 1907 to 1908. He studied his theology at Rome from 1908 to 1912 and got his licentiate. He was ordained to the priesthood in Rome by Cardinal Respighi June 11, 1911.

Ministry and changes.

Fr. Lambert was named to teach. He first went again to Vinovo from 1912 to 1916 where he perfected his Italian. He was then sent to the Elorrio alumnate in Spain from 1915 to 1919, where he learned Spanish. In 1919, he was named to teach at Assumption College in Worcester (U.S.A.). He taught there from 1919 to 1932 and was at the same time a monitor. The last part of his life was consecrated to pastoral ministry in New York at 14th Street from 1932 to 1955. [The two parishes in New York are distinguished by the street names: 14th Street for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, # 229, and 156th Street, for Our Lady of Esperanza Church, # 624. Today these two parishes for Hispanic Americans have been returned to the diocese and are served by the diocesan clergy of New York.] On September 18, 1954, he had to be taken to the city’s Saint Vincent Hospital. For quite some time, he had been suffering from a cancer that was eating away at his body. It was in New York that he died June 23, 1955 at the age of 72. He was buried in Worcester. In the course of his many years in pastoral ministry, Fr. Lambert got to be known and esteemed as a distinguished religious, with a great sense of humor and a great patience toward the faithful. Respectful of the guidelines and eventual severities of those in authority toward him, he was able to endure with an extraordinary morale his very long and painful illness. Of Belgian origin, Fr. Lambert, at the time of the setting up of Provinces, did not request to return to his native country. In 1928, he asked officially to be part of the French Province of the Center (Paris) in which he worked and where he was known. During a trip to Belgium, after World War II, he was seized by a bit of nostalgia and requested to be named to his native province; but very quickly, in 1947, because he had been in the U.S.A. so long, where he had become familiar with the language and the customs of America, he finally asked to be affiliated to the new Province of North America, now detached from Paris and erected in 1946.

Addenda.

He was also treasurer at Assumption College and Superior as well as Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe from 1943 to 1949. He died at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York.

Letter from Fr. Aimé Deschamps dated Feb. 12, 1947.

Father Lambert is suffering from a malignant tumor of the bladder in its third stage. Father Lambert is well aware if this since De. Mecca has told him so at his own request. This cancer presents no immediate danger except that of a fourth hemorrhage, which if not checked in time might be fatal. Aside from that eventuality, Fr. Lambert should feel no ill effects of his affliction..

Father Lambert, a Belgian, spent his most active years in the United States, first as a teacher and treasurer at Assumption in Worcester, then in parish ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe in New York, where he was pastor, and at Our Lady of Esperanza also in New York. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Worcester, 1928.

“You are going to find that I change a lot. It’s true, but I know that intelligent persons know how to change and Fr. Aymard [Faugère] confirmed my opinion by saying that only fools have fixed ideas. I am writing to definitely stabilize myself in one of the 4 Provinces of the Congregation and pass, this time for good, to the Province of Paris, which had been my first option. My reasons are: I have been working for this province since I am a religious. My knowledge of English, Spanish, and Italian let me offer more services, especially here, than in a Belgian province. In the Belgian province, I am a stranger. All know that I have never wanted a Belgian province and later on, I’ll suffer more especially when the Flemish will be more numerous. In the beginning I had no problems, but now I am afraid of this division in the Belgian province and I will suffer much in having to separate myself from the Center of the Congregation in which I have spent 27 years of my religious life and 17 years as a priest. Please transmit my desire to Fr. General and intercede in my favor”.

Eleutherios (Epaminondas) Schinas

1891-1919

Greek religious.

From Greece to Worcester.

Epaminondas Schinas was born in Greece, at Marathocambos, in the isle of Samos, of Orthodox parents June 3, 1891. In October 1899, he went to study with the Fathers of Sion in Jerusalem. He converted to Catholicism and in 1904 went to Constantinople to the Assumptionist school of Kum-Kapu where he only stayed a year (1904-1905). In July 1905, Epaminondas was sent to pursue his studies in Belgium at Bure (1905-1906). From there, he went to Taintegnies for humanities (1906-1908). He received the religious habit from the hands of Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly at the Louvain novitiate August 28, 1908, under the name Brother Eleutherios. He was professed annually the following year and sent to Gempe where the novitiate had moved and pronounced his perpetual vows there August 28, 1910. In September 1910, Brother Eleutherios started his philosophy at the Louvain house of studies that was still under the direction of Fr. Merklen at that time with whom he was very close. Three years later, on September 7, 1913, he was added to a small group of religious that Fr. Emmanuel Bailly sent as reinforcements to the college in Worcester (U.S.A.). Brother Eleutherios worked devotedly as teacher and monitor. The qualities of his heart rivaled with those of his spirit. Faithful to his religious obligations, he was a scrupulous teacher fulfilling all of his responsibilities and well liked by his students. He became for them a fervent apostle of the Eucharist. A few days before Christmas of 1918, he went on a promenade to a nearby lake where the students were ice-skating and caught cold. Pneumonia was declared and even though he was showered with care, Brother Eleutherios died a few days later, January 2, 1919, at the age of 28. Before leaving Europe, he had become a member of the clergy by receiving the tonsure July 7, 1912, but did not have time to reach the priesthood. Brother Eleutherios’ body was buried in the small cemetery of the college in Worcester.

From Fr. Omer Rochain concerning Brother Eleutherios.

“I had the sad task of announcing to you by telegram the death of our dear Brother Eleutherios Schinas, January 2 [1919]. Since the foundation of the college in 1903, he is the first religious that God called back to Him at Worcester. He will be our first intercessor. From the heights of heaven, he will protect the work to which he devoted himself during almost six years… Brother had an excellent health. From year to year he only had a small bout of flu, and that was all. Last December 19, he went for a promenade to a lake near the college where the students skated during the noon recess. He caught cold and felt some shivers. Without being alarmed at what he thought was nothing,, he went to his room to prepare his afternoon class and said nothing about the way that he felt. The following morning, he got up as usual and woke up the community, since that had been his job during four years. He immediately came to see me. He told me that he had suffered all night from a violent headache and that he wouldn’t be able to teach his class. I told him to go and rest and that I would replace him for his class. He immediately went back to bed never to get up again… The doctor who was most devoted came up to three times a day, and even at night, to visit his sick patient, since he was so desirous of saving him. At each visit, he was amazed that the Brother showed so much strength against death. During three days, the Brother was in agony. He could have departed from one moment to the other. I almost never left him. Brothers Joachim and Armand kept a constant watch over him. On January 2, about 3 a.m., a very noticeable change took place in him. Feeling that death was close, I called Fr. Pierre-Célestin [Régnier]. We recited the prayers of the agonizing.

Addenda.

He was born on the island of Samos, Greece. Brother Eleutherios was the first religious to be buried at the Preparatory School cemetery in Worcester. He was a Greek scholastic, was a monitor and teacher at Assumption and hoped to return soon to study theology. He died of pneumonia. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Worcester, 1915.

“Fr. Emmanuel Bailly gave me permission a week ago to send ten dollars to my parents. Since it is thanks to you that I obtained this help, I would be ungrateful if I did not thank you. Classes have started almost two months ago. The days fly by; my many occupations barely leave me any free time. I find many consolations with my students this year since they work hard and for the most part, want to be priests. It is the love for youth that makes my life a bit sweet, for there are times when I am tempted to get discouraged. I’ll tell you quite frankly where that comes from. It is because of my contacts with my superior [Fr. Omer Rochain]. I tend to flee from him. I have noticed so many time his ignorance of souls and of things that I prefer to stay out of the way rather than continually compromise myself for little things. A month ago I was severely rebuked in the full chapter for having said, it would seem, that the new schedule was stupid. And yet I had defended this same schedule publicly. Yes, I had said to Brother Hermès that one had to apply the rules with discernment…”

Clodoald (Antonin-Pierre) Serieix

1880-1948

Religious of the Province of Paris, Provincial of Paris (1929-1935).

Second Provincial of Paris.

Antonin-Pierre Serieix was born May 18, 1880, in the small village of Saint-Exupéry (Corrèze) in the diocese of Tulle, France.  He received his secondary education at the Assumptionist alumnates in Le Breuil (Deux-Sèvres), from 1892 to 1895, and Brian (Drôme), from 1895 to 1897.  On September 8, 1897, at the novitiate in Livry (Seine-Saint-Denis), he received the religious habit and the name of Brother Clodoald, pronouncing his first vows there on September 9, 1898, before going to Notre-Dame de France in Jerusalem to pursue his religious formation under the direction of Fr. Athanase Vanhove.  It was there that he took his final vows October 4, 1899, and studied philosophy (1899-1901).  From 1901 to 1904, he was sent to Brousse, Turkey, as a teacher.  He studied theology, first in Kadikoy and Phanaraki (1904-06), then in Jerusalem (1906-07) where Latin Patriarch Filippo Camassei ordained him a priest May 9, 1907.  The report for his priestly ordination stated some of his qualities: “He is serious, calm, delicate, and distinguished.  He has a good mind; he is attracted to the interior life; and he is capable of bearing responsibility.” The future would prove these appreciations to be accurate.

The young priest was sent to Kadikoy for two years (1907-08) where he exercised a pastoral ministry and taught Holy Scripture.  Since he had learned English, he was sent to England where he alternated between Brockley and New Haven, either as curate, superior, or pastor (1908-14).  In July 1915, because of World War I, he was called into military service, serving in the infantry service in Tulle, then in an auxiliary service in Paris.  Discharged in March 1919, he returned to England as superior at Bethnal Green in London (1919-1923).

In 1923, he was named Superior of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Vicar Provincial of North America.  This was the period when the Congregation was reorganizing itself into provinces.  The communities in England and the United States were made dependent on the French Province of Paris.  Under Fr. Clodoald’s firm yet gentle direction, the college in Worcester developed and expanded.  He built a large new wing to accommodate college-level students, as well as a gymnasium and tennis courts.  He also commissioned and placed on the property an imposing stone statue of Fr. d’Alzon.

In 1929, Fr. Clodoald became Provincial of Paris, replacing Fr. Aymard Faugère. His initiatives were numerous: Nîmes began building the new Collège de l’Assomption and a new community was founded in Perpignan to take charge of Collège Saint-Louis-de-Gonzague; a similar effort was tried in Pontlevoy; since the house of studies in Louvain was given to the Province of Belgium-Holland, he opened a scholasticate in Lormoy (Essonne).  Having experienced first hand in Worcester the advantages of borrowing money to finance new constructions, he took out loans as he proceeded to develop the Province.  However, at the time, such a practice was generally frowned upon in France, which led to misunderstandings between him and the Superior General, Fr. Gervais Quenard, who ordered him to leave financial matters up to his Provincial Treasurer.  In 1935, Fr. Clodoald resigned as Provincial.  At his request, he returned to the United States where he was assigned to Our Lady of Esperanza Church on West 156th Street in New York City.  He died there March 8, 1948, and was buried in the Assumptionist plot in Fiskdale, Massachusetts.

Brilliant and impulsive, a good student, and a talented teacher, Fr. Clodoald, without ever making a great show of his talents, did not take too easily to opinions contrary to his own.  Tall and ascetic looking, he was sensitive to the fact that he had a weak voice and that he could never address large groups.  Though strict with himself, he was attentive to others and a good spiritual director and advisor.  He always had frail health.  Suffering from stomach trouble and asthma, he constantly pushed himself out of a sense of duty.  He was found dead in his chair on the morning of March 8th, sitting up as if he were about to undertake another day of ministry.

Addenda.

While he was superior in Worcester, he was the host of the famous French ambassador and writer, Paul Claudel, in 1929.

The Death of Fr. Clodoald Serieix by Fr. Engelbert Devincq.

Death visited our young American province for the second time; it came to get a religious already advanced in age, remarkable by his intellectual and moral qualities, and the services he rendered, Fr. Clodoald Serieix. Wherever he passed, he left the impression of a worthy priest, in the full sense of the word, worthy in speech and manners, in the way he ministered as a priest, in his dealings with people, in the guidance he offered to the souls that requested it, and even in his dreams always inspired for the greater good of the works under his care. The news of his death will be met with many regrets. Assumption College owes him a debt of gratitude especially for his devotedness as the superior during six years. That is why we must speak of him to refresh memories concerning what he did for us.

His funeral.

Fr. Clodoald never had great health; he was impressive by his height and ascetic figure, and yet he always suffered in one way or another health wise. He retired to New York after having served as Provincial of the Paris Province and his strength ebbed away. For more than a year now, his asthma was a great torture for him. This did not deter him from ministering in the parish where he was living. However, he had to make great efforts because of this asthma that was slowly debilitating him and weakening his heart. When the phone rang on the morning of March 8 announcing that he had been found dead in his room, we were not terribly surprised. Our goof Father had left without noise, without bothering anyone, during one of his numerous asthma attacks that had been stronger than the strength left in him.

Death always holds a lesson wherever it strikes. And yet it has consolations when one thinks of a life full of merits of the one who has died, when one sees the religious affection for his body with the beauty of the liturgy. Fr. Clodoald was brought her in his tomb on Wednesday evening, March 10, after the funeral service in New York. The whole numerous community and the students were there to receive him. Monsignor Phelan, the vicar general of the Springfield diocese, officiated at the greeting of the body, then the Office of the Dead was recited in a pious manner.

Our good father rested in his humble and modest wooden casket, that of the poor. To think of it seriously, is the casket important? You can understand a beautiful casket as a symbol of the love by the living, but for a religious who gave up everything, he goes into the earth with the renunciation promised by his vows. The hood that covered his head hid his beautiful white hair. Suffering had left its mark on his traits, so much so that the religious who had lived with him had difficulty recognizing him. He was more impressive if not more handsome.

The next day, the funeral set for 9:15 a.m. followed to the letter the prescriptions of the Church. Let us state that the new chapel that is quite big was very full. Besides our students, strangers, priests, religious, and lay people were numerous sharing in our bereavement. May they know that their presence touched us greatly! Fr. Clodoald was well-known and esteemed. We were glad to see that. Without naming people, let us note the presence of delegates from the communities of Sisters from Worcester, alumni, priest from neighboring parishes, and friends of the college; the Saint John the Baptist Society and the Canado-American Association were represented by their president. In the sanctuary, in front of the religious were Msgr. Phelan and Msgr. Mathieu, pastor of the parish in Putnam, Conn.

One could feel a great atmosphere of piety in the assistance. The beauty of the celebration and the greatness of the mystery of death had seized the assembly. After the chanting of the Lauds of the Office of the Dead, solemn high mass was held; Father Provincial was the celebrant with Fr. Marius Dumoulin as deacon and Fr. Marc Leboeuf as sub-deacon. Two choirs sang the Gregorian Chant mass, one composed of the religious in the sanctuary and the other of students in the choir loft... Before the final commendation, Fr. Crescent Armanet, superior of our house at 156th Street in New York, gave the eulogy. He was well suited for this as the Superior of the deceased who had lived 13 years with him. He knew him inside out and knew what he was talking about..

Around 11:30, the procession left to accompany the body to the cemetery. The road was not in the best of conditions since the abundant snows of the winter made it quite difficult for cars to drive. His casket had to be carried by hand with several teams taking part in this to the psalmody of the “Miserere”. A final prayer, sprinking with holy water and Fr. Clodoald’a casket was lowered into the grave. He now rests in the tiny cemetery of the College. Soon a white cross will be set up with his name and the dates of his birth and death.

Our Old Superior.

The good Father Clodoald! The old religious who had him as Superior in Worcester from 1923 to 1929 all said this when they heard of his death. There was unanimity in their remarks. When he arrived from England, almost nobody knew him; his approach was a bit difficult, his speech rapid, his serious look, all of this made the religious ask questions. They didn’t have to wait very long for an answer. The new superior won over rapidly the religious by his many qualities that broke the ice and inspired confidence. Humble and simple, he didn’t put himself forward, even though he was very learned. He was always afraid to hurt others feelings. He never gave orders. He asked. In his remarks, his tone was paternal in a way that did not lord it over people and obtained great results. He seemed so small even though he was tall, so much so that many visitors thought others were the superior. The Franco-American priests all loved him. Some would have wanted him to be more virile, but he was so good that his mannerisms were forgiven. I am not speaking here of the college students of that time since he had their respect without intimidating them. They listened to him with great attention because his words were always prepared with care and dealt with precise questions. He was stubborn when he thought that he was right, even to the point of obstination. His years as Superior were a time of goodness, but it was a goodness tempered with firmness.

Let us add that his Superiorate was a time of fruitful works that last. When he arrived, the space for the High School and the College was too restrained. It was time to think of building. It was also necessary to separate high school and college. Fr. Clodoald got to work at once. His office almost became the office of an architect. He filled large sheets with lines going everywhere. He drew all sorts of plans according to what was going on in his mind. He consulted others, but always came back to what he thought. The fruit of all this was a new building that was part of a whole plan for the future and a gym that for a long time was seen as one of the best in the area. All of this was linked to the old buildings. The corner stone was placed in 1925, and in 1926 a new building arose that the ever-expanding High School invaded.

It was also under his tenure that 12 tennis courts on top of the hill were built... They were all built in line with one another...

In 1929, the college was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of foundation. This date could not pass unnoticed... Everyone worked on its preparation. There was a souvenir album, and a concert that was to be the culmination of the celebration. Fr. Clodoald had a great part to play. It was thanks to him that we had the honor to receive Mr. Paul Claudel, French ambassador to Washington, accompanied by his wife. He was a well-known visitor, more known in the literary works than that of diplomacy. The civic authorities of Worcester met him. We had never before seen so many priests and friends in our walls. We’’ remember for a long time the apotheosis at Mechanic Hall for our College before an assembly of 1800 persons.

Assumption College continues to go forward and with reason has plans for further expansion. While looking toward the future, it doesn’t forget to look backwards. It is its duty... Fr. Clodoald figures among the pioneers who put down roots very deeply that will permit a future development.

[L’Assomption, March-April 1948, 29-33]

Father Clodoald was first assigned to the Near east missions, but then spent many years in England, except for the time of World War I, when he served in the army. From 1923 to 1929 he was Superior in Worcester and President of Assumption College as well as Vicar Provincial for North America. He was Provincial of Paris during the following six years and ended his life as curate at Our Lady of Esperanza in New York. A gentleman if ever there was one! He was buried at the Prep School cemetery. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Bartholomew Sharkey

1920-1956

Irish religious of the Province of Paris, England, and North America.

A life of zigzags.

Bartholomew Sharkey was born May 20, 1920 at Ballaghadereen (Achrony) in Ireland.  From 1933 to 1938, he did his secondary studies in Dublin. He entered the Congregation of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate where he did his philosophy from 1939 to 1941 and had made his perpetual vows September 15, 1942. He decided to leave this Congregation. He began his novitiate with the Assumption first in England, at Bindon House where he took the Assumptionist religious habit in October 1946 and made his first vows, which were also his perpetual vows December 7, 1947 at Les Essarts (Seine-Maritime), having learned French in six months. He obtained a special indult since he was already professed with the O.M.I. We have no other information on the years 1941-1947. “ In obedience to his confessor, notes Fr. Rémi Kokel, at that time the Provincial Superior in Paris, in 1947, Brother Bartholomew refused asking to be admitted to major orders, although he had already received all of the minor orders in 1942. Then after consulting another religious, he changed his mind, but he gives the impression of being very unstable and lacking judgment”. These remarks guided Fr. Bal-Fontaine, the Provincial of Paris previous to Fr. Kokel, upon which the vicariate of England depended at that time, to never call Brother Bartholomew to the priesthood. The situation changed after a new time of probation at the Les Essarts novitiate where the master of novices, Fr. Coulet, was favorable to going forward: Brother Bartholomew is a serious religious, balanced, mature, faithful to the prescriptions of the rule, not narrow-minded, and open with his superiors. It seems to me that he will do fine work for the Adveniat Regnum Tuum”. After his theology studies at Lormoy (Essonne), Brother Bartholomew was ordained a priest May 1, 1948 at Soisy by Bishop Roland Gosselin. The biographical information that we have is inexistent concerning his activities during the years 1948 to 1953. According to the Directory of Religious 1948-1949, he belonged to the Province of England, which was erected December 26, 1946, and was named to the Davézieux alumnate in Ardèche and to that of Clairmarais in the Pas-de-Calais for the school year 1949-1950. Concerning 1950-1951, we found nothing on the lists of the Directory of that time in the Provinces of Paris and England. He transferred to the Province of North America residing at the Our Lady of Esperanza parish. The rest of his journey was noted in a small article of the Lettre à la Famille (March 1952, #131, p. 26): “Fr. Sharkey arrived in the United States barely a year ago and has left Our Lady of Esperanza for Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. Fr. Provincial [Fr. Wilfrid Dufault who became the Superior General in May 1952] who has just returned from there, after having made the canonical visitation, became aware of the urgent need for priests, first in Mexico, and then at Popotitian, for the harvest is ripe and the workers are crushed with work. Since Fr. Sharkey had indicated last year that he would be interested in going to this mission to learn Spanish and evangelize the Indians, Fr. Wilfrid acted on his request. It was on December 30 [1951] that Fr. Sharkey took the plane to this land of enchantment”. Without casting doubt on the truth of these declarations, it is clear that this religious had a very great mobility, which could not hide a delicate personal situation. In 1953, he asked to be secularized. The archbishop of Brooklyn (U.S.A.) accepted his eventual incorporation or incardination into his diocese. Fr. Bartholomew declared himself unhappy in religious life and ready to leave it. He felt alone because of his Irish nationality. Time did not permit him to realize his project of definitive exclaustration from the Congregation, since he died at 36 years old, October 16, 1956.

Addenda.

In 1950, he became curate of Our Lady of Esperanza. He died from a blood clot following lung surgery just two months before his incardination would have been effective. He was buried in a grave of a cousin’s lot.

From a letter dated 17 October 1956.

Fr. Bartholomew Sharkey of the Province of Paris died suddenly yesterday morning, October 16 at 7:10 at St Anthony Hospital in New York. Father had been taken to the TB hospital on 17 September. A few days ago, they took out one of his lungs. Yesterday morning, he got up and drank a glass of juice. He was waiting for Holy Communion when he died. He had been getting up since a few days. His nurse told me that he died of a blood clot.

He had been transferred to the Province of North America in 1950 for six years. As of December 1953, he had been attached “ad experimentum” to the Brooklyn diocese in New York. The funeral will be held on 19 October at 10:30 in St. Thomas More Church in Rockway Point, New York where he was curate. The body will most likely be transported to Worcester to be buried in the community’s cemetery.

Antoine (Jacques) Silbermann

1858-1933

French Religious, missionary in Argentina.

A true missionary.

Jacques Silbermann was born July 23, 1858, in Cernay (Haut-Rhin), Alsace.  Having lost his father, Antoine, when he was two years old, and his mother Victorine, born Schmithlin, in 1864, he was placed in a foster family in Auxelles-Bas, next to Giromagny in the territory of Belfort, by the Child Welfare office.  In 1874, his village pastor had him admitted to the minor seminary in Luxeuil (Haute-Saône), in the diocese of Besançon. Two years later, he transferred to the Clairmarais alumnate (1876-78).

He received the religious habit November 21, 1878, at the novitiate in Paris.  In memory of his father, he received the name of Brother Antoine.  His introduction to religious life began under the direction of Fr. Picard and continued in Sèvres (Hauts-de-Seine) under that of Fr. Joseph Germer-Durand.  In 1880, the novices were obliged to leave the house in Sèvres and seek refuge in Paris, in the apartment of Mr. Février.  It was there that he took his final vows December 10, 1880.  A few days later, after being ordained a sub- deacon in Versailles (Yvelines) on December 18, he left for the novitiate in Osma (Spain) where the Congregation had resettled the philosophical and theological formation of its French students.

In 1882, he was given permission to accompany the first pilgrimage of Our Lady of Salvation to Jerusalem.  Upon his return, he went to Paris where he was ordained a priest December 23, 1882.    He was then asked to join the community at Fr. Halluin’s orphanage in Arras, which he left in 1883 to strengthen that of Notre-Dame des Châteaux (Savoie).  This, too, was only a brief assignment because, in September 1883, he was sent to Eastern Europe.

Asked to found a college in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, which had only an ephemeral existence, he was sent to Karagach-Adrianople (European Turkey) where he remained for the next 15 years (1884-99).  Missionary, professor and superior, he completely devoted himself to the multiple dimensions of this assignment which, at the time, was the center of the Eastern Mission.  From September 1899 to February 1903, he was the superior of the residence in Phanaraki.

In 1903, Fr. Picard entrusted him with a mission in the United States, where the possibility of an agricultural school seemed to be in the offing in Granby, Massachusetts.  However, when the project proved not viable, Fr. Antoine returned to Phanaraki, the point of departure for new responsibilities he would assume in Brousse (1904-05), Eskishehir (1905-08), and Yamboli (1908-09).

It was then that, at age 51, he began a new life as a missionary in South America, first in Chile: Los Andes (1909) and Concepción (1910-14), but especially in Argentina where his sense of initiative allowed him to become a true pioneer.  With the help of Fr. Romain Heitmann, he founded the parish in Belgrano (1914), and then devoted himself to the service of the chapel in Santos Lugares where everything needed to be done.  He built a magnificent grotto dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, which quickly became a pilgrimage center attracting large crowds.  When the chapel became a parish, Fr. Antoine was appointed its first superior (1920).  He then audaciously undertook the construction of a shrine.  Little by little, and despite all types of numerous difficulties, he eventually had the pleasure of seeing his dream realized.

In 1923, he was appointed superior in Belgrano, remaining there until 1930.  He then returned to Santos Lugares where he spent his last days and where, after a long and painful illness, he died November 15, 1993, at the age of 75.  His body lies in the church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

A very lively person, straightforward, honest, almost brutally frank, and having a heart of gold, Fr. Antoine stamped whatever he did with the characteristics of his orderly, meticulous, and methodical nature, undertaking his responsibilities in a spirit of remarkable obedience and availability.  In 1961, out of gratitude, city officials named one of the streets of Santos Lugares after Fr. Antoine Silbermann.

Addenda.

He seems to have been assigned to the world. In 1903, he spent 3 months in North America to help found the agricultural school at Granby, an idea of the pastor of Holyoke, Massachusetts, but it never materialized. Before and after, he was in the Near East mission. Then he went to Chile and from there to Argentina, where he was the first superior at Belgrano and served in the other two houses: Santos Lugares and Our Lady of Mercy.

Santos Lugares, 1931.

“We are only in fall and yet you can feel the cold. Several white frosts have made the trees shed their leaves. It seems that the cold has arrived sooner than usual. Just like the plants, our church has stopped growing. During my absence in Chile, special unforeseen circumstances brought experts to examine the work that had already been done and they found and pointed out serious facets and dangers in the construction of the towers. Besides that, they advised us that costs were abusive. The emotion caused by this first report by experts made us get a second opinion from experts. The results agreed with the first and we stopped all work. We have just dismissed our architect whom we had a blind trust. We are now going to study what remedy to bring without harming the esthetics, then we’ll go forward quickly with the work at reasonable costs. As soon as the preparatory project will be finished, I’ll send everything to Fr. Séraphin Protin who will evaluate everything. The major work will be finished at the end of next year. On the 14th of this month, we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the blessing of the grotto...”

Marie-Gabriel (Léon-Victor-F.) Soulice

1873-1940

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A diocesan priest who became a religious.

Léon Victor François Soulice was born June 2, 1873 at Châtel-Aillon, commune of Angoulins (Charente-Maritime), in the diocese of La Rochelle. He was schooled by the Marianist Brothers in Marans, then at the Pons College (1886-1891). He did his philosophy and theology at the La Rochelle Major Seminary and was ordained as a diocesan priest May 30, 1896. At first he was named to teach at the Pons College from 1896 to 1901, then was a parish priest during almost six years (August 1901-April 1907). He obtained permission at that time from his bishop, Msgr. Eyssautier, to become a religious of the Assumption that he knew through Fr. Marie-Léopold Gerbier (1851-1916). Under the name of Brother Marie-Gabriel, he was admitted to the novitiate, at the time in Louvain, Belgium, where he took the religious habit August 6, 1907 from the hands of Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly. His master of novices during several months was Fr. Benjamin Laurès, until December 1907, then Fr. Antoine de Padoue Vidal. Annually professed August 10, 1908, he was sent during his second year of novitiate to the Bure alumnate to teach: “Fr. Marie-Gabriel Soulice entered the Assumption to flee the isolation of parish ministry. He bravely separated himself from his mother and sister who lived with him in his rectory. At the novitiate, he got to know and appreciate religious life. He sincerely likes our way of life and says that he is ready to do whatever obedience will request of him, although he isn’t too attracted to the alumnates”. His two years of novitiate finished, Fr. Marie-Gabriel pronounced his perpetual vows August 6, 1909 at Gempe. Almost immediately, he was sent to the England mission where he would spent 17 years in different positions: Bethnal Green (1909-1912), Newhaven (1912-1913), again Bethnal Green for three months, Brockley (January 1914-December 1917) and Charlton (1917-1923). At the time of the creation of the various Provinces of the Assumption, he chose that of the Center or Paris upon which depended the vicariates of England and North America. He wrote: “By birth, I belong to the Province of Bordeaux, but since my vows in 1909, I have always worked in that of Paris”. In 1923, he was named to the college in Worcester (Massachusetts, U.S.A.). In 1928, he went to the New York parish at 14th Street where he was named second counselor of the community in August 1932. We have almost no details of his presence or apostolic action in the New World. The context of the year and month of his death explain this lacuna, as the following note that appeared in the Lettre à la Dispersion # 829 in the month of August 1940 that was never published or distributed, clarified. Fr. Marie-Gabriel Soulice died July 11, 1940 in New York, at the dawn of his 68th year.

Notification of the death of Fr. Marie-Gabriel.

A letter from New York that went through Rome and then arrived in Paris to Fr. Gervais Quenard, September 9, 1940, announced that Fr. Marie-Gabriel Soulice died toward the end of July. All correspondence was very closely watched during this time, so the note gave no details and the date of death is only approximate. During this time, it is very difficult to know exactly what is happening. Let us resign ourselves and wait. May God permit that the souls of Purgatory do not have to wait too long for the aid from our prayers and suffrages! La Dispersion will give the details of the death of this religious as soon as it gets them, as well as notes on his life, which was spent almost entirely in England and the United States. This will happen as soon as we can send them.

Addenda.

He was appreciated as a confessor for Sisters. (Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Newhaven, 1912.

“I wanted to write you as soon as I left Bethnal Green and I arrived here, but because of the problems that your trip to the Orient and the ceremonies of the consecration [Msgr. Petit], et even more your trip to France, I preferred waiting. I would however been glad to express my gratitude; since the decision that you made to send me to Newhaven has been very agreeable. I had put off as a temptation the desire to write to you, thinking that it was better not to say any thing, and at the time when I was totally lost, God intervened. I’ll take advantage of your next trip to England to speak with you. I need your advice very much. The work that I have here and at Seaford is the one that I prefer. God grants me the joy to do a bit of good. I work especially to get people to love and desire Holy Communion. They are more numerous now. On 60 to 70 children of whom I am in charge for the two convents, more than half go to communion each day and the others, 3 to 5 times a week. I thank Our Lord for permitting me to make him known and loved in spite of my miseries.

Rumold (Jean-Joseph) Spinnael

1880-1967

Religious of the Province of North Belgium, assistant general (1929-1946).

Beginnings.

Jean Joseph Spinnael was born April 5, 1880 at Nieuwenrode-Wolvertem, Belgian Brabant, in the diocese of Malines. He did his secondary studies at Taintegnies (1895-1898), then in France at Clairmarais (Pas-de-Calais). He took the religious habit, under the name of Brother Rumold, September 18, 1900 at Gemert in Holland. He made his first vows September 18, 1901 at Louvain as well as his perpetual vows June 29, 1903. Between the end of his novitiate and the beginning of philosophy, he taught sciences at the Saint-Trond alumnate (1901-1902). His philosophy was studied at Louvain (1902-1904), followed by four years of theology at the same place (1904-1908). Brother Rumold was ordained to the priesthood July 7, 1907.

Active life.

Father Rumold began his apostolic life in 1908. It was long and well filled in very varied sectors, oftentimes with important positions. At first, he was a teacher at the house of studies in Louvain (1908-1911), then at Taintegnies (1911-1912). In August 1912, he was chosen to teach at the college in Worcester, U.S.A. where he remained eleven years (1912-1923). At the time of the creation of provinces, he returned to Europe and became provincial treasurer of Belgium-Holland (1923-1926). These three years were followed by another three of pastoral ministry at Haine-Saint-Pierre where he was superior of the community (1926-1929). Delegate of his province for the general chapter, he was elected assistant general and went to live in the eternal city during fourteen years (1929-1943), navigating among the different residences to permit the General Curia to remain in contact with all the communities, often isolated and cut off from all contact because of the war. In 1943, Fr. Rumold was at Lyons (Rhône) and in 1944 lived at Chaville (Hauts-de-Seine) according to the needs of the times. Of a rather lively character, he held to his opinions and for a moment could lose his serenity, which never abandoned him. A man without a grudge, he was pleasant in the community where everyone called him ‘uncle’. He was not demanding for himself and happy to live a simple life. He knew how to keep good relationships. A scrupulous priest, he celebrated Eucharist regularly and never omitted his breviary. For him, the basic principles of religious life in community and the prescriptions of the Rule were the solid bases that should not be touched. Each month, he would turn over to the treasurer his small old age pension, have his account book signed, and leave humming. He was not closed to the initiatives of the aggiornamento of the Councils, but one could hear his often-repeated quip: ‘While they’re at it, let them get rid of everything’. The evolution of time didn’t make him become embittered or disillusioned. On the contrary, he let his happy temperament overflow and enjoyed community life, enjoying gentle teasing. After his responsibilities on the General level had come to a close, Fr. Rumold returned to Belgium. He went to the communities and residences of Le Bizet (1946-1948) and a chaplaincy at Coq-sur-Mer (1848-1955), then that of Froyennes (1955-1956). He only spent one year at Starbroek (1958-1959) before settling in Brussels (1959-1963), then in the nearby suburb of Brussels-Woluwe (1963-1967). It was there that he died July 16, 1967. He was buried at Nieuwenrode, in the cemetery of his native village, where his brother, Fr. Libert, was to join him in 1985. In July 1967, his community of Woluwe was happy to celebrate his 60 years as a priest, without suspecting that he would be done in by heart problems a few days later. Fr. Rumold left as he had always wished, without noise and without bothering anyone. Wanting to have a cup of coffee in the morning of July 16, having barely gotten up, he fell and died instantly. [According to Fr. Stéphane Lowet.]

Addenda.

Father Rumold, in his 60 years of priesthood, had a variety of assignments, two of which were for longer periods. The first of these was in Worcester where he was treasurer from 1912 to 1923, and the second was in Rome, where he was Assistant General from 1929 to 1940. He was a quiet, joyful religious, an excellent community man, very strict on questions of the rule and on poverty. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Putte-Kapellen, 1959

“I am sending you my request to discharge me as superior of Putte-Kapellen. From my semester report at the end of December 1958and the one of the preceding end of the month of June, you have been able to get a good idea of the situation in this house. Several times, I brought to the attention of the Provincial the way two or three religious acted, especially Fr. Silvinus Nolmans who was the main cause of lack of understanding and an element of disorder. I can understand that Fr. Provincial [Stéphane Lowets] has great difficulty in finding him a place. Concerning myself, in these conditions, I don’t feel able to organize even a minimum of religious life. I didn’t know this Father before coming here, but since then, I have found out that he wasn’t unknown in the Province. If he stays here, which is probable, and if he acts in a victorious way, what will be the impression on the religious who know him? Thank you for taking the time to read my letter”. (Fr. Rumold Spinnael.)

Marie-Clément (Joseph) Staub

1876-1936

Religious of the Province of Paris.

An heir but also a founder.

Born July 2, 1876, in Kaysersberg (Haut Rhin), the birthplace of the well-known Dr. Schweitzer, Joseph Staub learned as a young boy in his poor, Alsatian, and thoroughly Catholic family the demands of renunciation and asceticism that make for strong individuals.  He studied in the Assumptionist alumnates of Mauville (Pas-de-Calais) and Taintegnies, Belgium, from 1890 to 1894, and in Clairmarais (1894-96).  He received the Assumptionist habit from Fr. Vincent de Paul Bailly September 8, 1896, under the name of Brother Marie-Clément, at the novitiate in Livry (Seine-Saint-Denis) where he made his annual profession September 8, 1897, and his final profession September 8, 1898, in the hands of Fr. Emmanuel Bailly.  His studies in philosophy took place in Rome (1898-1900).  He began his theological studies in Louvain (1901-02), but finished them in Rome (1902-04) where he was ordained a priest March 19, 1904, after receiving doctorates in both disciplines: philosophy and theology. .

He served as sub-prior at the novitiate in Louvain (1904-06) and then became master of novices of the coadjutor brothers in Gempe, Belgium (1906-09).  After one year on a preaching assignment in London (1909), he was sent to Assumption College in Worcester, USA (1910-17).  A meeting he had in Europe with Mrs. Edith Royer, who told him of the vision she had received from the Sacred Heart, was a decisive experience that oriented his life toward the propagation of this devotion.  In 1912, he established the American Center of the Archconfraternity of Prayer and Penance at the Church of Our Lady of Esperanza in New York City.  In 1915, at Assumption College in Worcester, he began the Saint John’s Guild, which became an important source of religious and priestly vocations.  In 1917, he founded the national Canadian center for the devotion to the Sacred Heart whose shrine, commonly called the Canadian Montmartre, was blessed January 6, 1927.

While he was still a student in Rome in 1904, Fr. Marie-Clément had been impressed by the proclamation of the heroic virtues of Joan of Arc, to whom he made this promise: “Joan, my sister, I will do something for you when I become a priest.” He kept his word by founding on Christmas Eve 1914 the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc.  He wanted to respond directly to one of the needs of the time by offering the assistance of devoted sisters to priests and religious in the apostolate.  While on his preaching tours, Fr. Marie-Clément had noticed the difficulties priests were having in finding housekeepers and helpers who were both competent and reliable.  From the beginning, the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc have been dedicated to the service of priests, rectories, bishoprics, and seminaries.  Following the example of Mary, the Mother of Christ, whom Fr. Marie-Clément liked to call “Queen of the Clergy,” the sisters were to lead a life of intense prayer, humble and efficient work, and unfailing presence, as they performed their duties as housekeepers, receptionists, secretaries, sacristans, and catechists.  The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc are principally located in the United States and Canada, though they have also had throughout their history a certain number of communities, for varying lengths of time, in Europe and elsewhere: Beaulieu-lès-Fontaine (Oise, France) [The tomb of Fr. Marie-Clément is located at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc in Sillery, Quebec.]  before World War II, Rome in 1987, and Congo-Zaire in 1989.

Blessed with a strong and balanced nature, as well as with a contemplative spirit, this man of God was completely dedicated to the care of souls.  He died at age 60 in Quebec City, Canada, May 16, 1936, on the anniversary of the canonization of Joan of Arc (1920).  At his funeral, Cardinal Villeneuve, archbishop of Quebec, addressing himself to Fr. Marie-Clément’s spiritual daughters, bore him this eloquent testimony: “Your founder was a true priest, a holy priest, and an ardent soul.”   The cause of Fr. Marie-Clément Staub was introduced in Rome in 1981.

Addenda.

In the summer of 1905, he was named director of the magazine ‘L’Assomption’; he wrote three articles on the Sacred Heart, and in 1906, in his diary he writes: “If I could anchor this devotion in a few devoted persons! –What a joy! – I hope that the pages of ‘L’Assomption’ will attract some of the 4,000 readers. In the confessing ministry, I do my best to guide people toward the ‘Heart that so loved men’. I have faith and trust in His words and promises.” [Les Assomptionnistes au Canada, Yves Garon, A.A., 1997, 14.]

He learned of the Archconfraternity of Prayer and Penance of Montmartre and began his life-long apostolate to spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart, preaching it in England in 1908-1909. He was sent to Worcester in late 1909. The first convent of the Sisters of St. Joan of Arc was the little house that had been the birthplace of Assumption College. In the fall of 1918, Fr. Marie-Clément established the motherhouse of the Sisters in Bergerville, a part of Sillery, Quebec. It was there that he died in the evening of May 16, 1936. In January 1981, the diocesan process of information leading to beatification was completed.

A second thing may have distracted Father from his project of a Canadian Montmartre: the project of a “Montmartre In the United States” proposed by Father Emmanuel Bailly, Superior General, in October 1913. It would almost be necessary to quote his long letter entirely. But here is its substance.

The proposition is official: “It seemed to us, the Fathers of the Council, to Fr. Stéphane and to me...” Up to that point, they had thought that the chapel of Assumption College in Worcester could become a shrine to the Sacred Heart in the United States, but seeing the “unforeseen spread” of the Archconfraternity, it didn’t seem opportune to “limit to a college chapel [...] what the Montmartre of the United States should be”. It is in Washington, the country’s capital that this church should be built.

This idea of a “Montmartre in the United States” was without doubt inspired to Fr. Emmanuel by the proposed “Canadian Montmartre” of Fr. Marie-Clément, and not the other way around, as was believed.

[Lea Assomptionnistes au Canada, Yves Garon, A.A., 1997, 17.]

Biographical Brochure: Fr. Marie-Clément Staub,a.a. 1876-1936: J. Lepage, Foreword.

A brother recruiter stopped his car in front of me and asked for the address of the pastor. He looked at me fixedly and said: “What kind of Father are you? –A priest of the Assumption. –Is that the same as ‘Assumptionist? –Father of the Assumption, Assumptionist, Augustinian of the Assumption, that’s all the same thing. –So, Fr. Marie-Clément was a Father of the Assumption? –Well! You knew Fr. Marie-Clément? –Yes, he preached on the Sacred Heart at Granby. I was 14. He made quite an impression on me; I still have the booklets that he gave out. He was a saint, but I don’t know anything else about him.”

‘Marie-Clément Staub, A.A. 1876-1936: Apostle and Founder’ by Wilfrid Dufault, A.A., Postulator.

It was a rare privilege for a young priest to be commended by the Vicar of Christ for the success of a mere four years of apostolate. Marie-Clément Staub, an Assumptionist from Alsace, was gratefully happy as he was awed when, during the audience granted him with the Superior General Emmanuel Bailly in March 1914, Pius X responded with warm approval to the young priest’s request for a blessing upon the apostolate of the Sacred Heart that he had been promoting in America since 1910.

Young Staub’s success story truly merited this privilege. When assigned to ministry in the United States in the fall of 1909, his ambition was to make people realize Christ’s love for them as signified in his Sacred Heart. The year before he received the assignment, he had heard of an association, the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart, whose purpose was to pledge special prayer and penance weekly, or at least monthly, in reply to the appeal of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To this cause he had given his whole-hearted support and had obtained permission to make it his principal ministry.

So, upon arrival in America, he was determined to persuade as many as he could to pledge special prayer and penance in a spirit of reparation to the Sacred Heart. He preached unceasingly, undaunted by his limited knowledge of the English language, and even by a throat ailment that made public speaking difficult. He enlisted the help of volunteers, lay and religious, for the enrollment of members into the Archconfraternity, and for the distribution of flyers, medals, and brochures. He solicited the endorsement of bishops in the United States as well as in Canada. To Pius X, in that memorable audience of 1914, Father Marie-Clément was able to present a sheaf of bishops’ letters of approval and encouragement, together with a record enrollment of 77,000 members in the Archconfraternity, the result of a mere four years’ apostolate in America.

After the eventful audience. Father Marie-Clément wrote in his diary: “Pius X seemed impressed by all these details. To encourage our work, he enrolled personally as a member of the Archconfraternity, and, he even prepared a ‘Rescript’ entirely in his own handwriting, recommending the Archconfraternity to the priests of the entire world and enriching our work with precious favors.”

On September 15, 1921, Fr. Marie-Clément Staub was elected 1st delegate to the General Chapter of 1922 on the first ballot. Throughout Quebec and New England, one can find statues of the Sacred Heart in front of churches where Fr. Marie-Clement preached the Sacred Heart.

Notes from Fr. Marie-Clement Staub.

Yes! 2 March 1917, the First Friday of the month of St. Joseph will remain a great day in the history of the Assumption and that of the family of Joan of Arc. I want to write it down here, at the chaplaincy of the Trappistine Monastery of St. Romuald where I have returned after spending time at the chancery of the Archbishopric of Quebec.

It is a great day in the history of the Assumption. Today, in fact, His Eminence Cardinal Bégin signed the documents that admit our Congregation in the beautiful diocese of Quebec...

It is a great day for our Joan of Arc family. Today, a Prince of the Holy Church, renowned for his virtue, goodness and wisdom, has officially adopted our little family first as a “pious society”... His Eminence accepts also the definite founding of a Novitiate as soon as Rome approves it.

Father Marie-Clément Staub: Whether Father Marie-Clément will even be beatified, we do not know. We are convinced that he was the most extraordinary Assumptionist to have lived in North America. His personality was powerful and he was driven by the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He came here from England in 1909. and was atttached to Worcester, though he was usually out preaching. He was the initiator in America of the Archconfraternity of Prayer and Penance. He founded the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc. At Assumption College, he founded the Saint John’s Guild to encourage vocations to the priesthood. Hundreds of priests and nuns owe to him, under God, their priestly and/or religious vocations. He was the first Assumptionist in Canada and founded our house in Quebec, next to the General House of the Sisters of Saint Joan of Arc. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Donat (Pierre-Marcel-Joseph) Teissier

1898-1970

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A time of formation.

Pierre Marcel Joseph Teissier was born October 23, 1898 at Chasseradès (Lozère) in the hamlet of Mas, right on the cliff above the Chassezac. He finished his primary studies at the hamlet school when he met Fr. Didier Nègre, at the time superior of the Vinovo alumnate, near Turin (Italy). That is how the tiny Marcel left for the far away Piedmont where he did his studies until 1913, the year when he went to Ascona (Switzerland) for two years (1913-1915). It was at Vinovo that, because of the war that kept the Limpertsberg novitiate (Luxembourg) isolated, young Marcel took the religious habit July 26, 1915, under the name Brother Donat. It was a traveling novitiate. Several cases of typhoid obliged it to be transferred to Rome, piazza d’Ara Coeli, in September-October 1915, then from May 1916 to Notre-Dame de Lumières (Vaucluse) where he pronounced his first vows July 26, 1916. Adjourned by a revision council, Brother Donat, who was luckier than 12 of his companions called up for their military service, was able to finish his second year of novitiate. From September 1917 to July 1919, he studied philosophy at Bourville (Seine-Maritime), in a modest temporary scholasticate for young religious not yet called up for military service. In August 1919, Brother Donat was sent as a monitor to Assumption College in Worcester (U.S.A.). But the army had not forgotten him: he was called up in November 1920 to Hussein-Day in Algeria. In the beginning of January 1922, Brother Donat was discharged and went to Louvain for theology. Perpetually professed at Zepperen August 28, 1923, he was ordained a priest July 26, 1925 at Louvain by Msgr. Lagae, a Dominican missionary in the Congo.

In service at the alumnates.

Fr. Donat gave himself during more than 35 years to serving at the alumnates. From 1925 to 1931, he was named to teach the 1st year high school class at Poussan (Hérault); from 1931 to 1935, he was named to the late vocations house at Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis); from 1935 to 1937, he was at the Chanac alumnate (Lozère). From 1937 to 1948, he saw to the development of the Montéchor alumnate (Pas-de-Calais); from 1948 to 1951, he returned to teach at Chanac; from 1951 to 1954, he was a teacher at the Soisy-sur-Seine alumnate (Essonne). He then spent four years at Vérargues, a former alumnate, which he guarded and saw to its sale (1954-1958). He returned once again to Chanac to be the superior (1958-1962). The superiors named him to teach at Davézieux (Ardèche) from 1962 to 1964. Chanac became a rest home. He was named its superior in 1964. It was there at Christmas 1964 that he had a first cerebral hemorrhage that left him half paralyzed, on the right side. He soon became just a sick man for whom several other accidents added to his lack of being able to function. He lost his good humor and his usual spirit. With the help of a cane and the arm of a companion, he walked with tiny steps. But the time came when he could no longer do anything by himself. He had to be taken in a wheel chair, dressed, and fed like a child. In the first days of 1970, his health got worse. He could no longer celebrate mass, even seated, and had to be satisfied with taking part in that of a confrere. His only distractions were accompanied promenades, praying the rosary, enjoying a cigarette, and listening to the news, either on the radio or TV. The days dragged by in this rhythm, with a progressive detachment and disinterest for everything. He knew that his days were counted. Sunday, February 22, 1970, he died from a new cerebral hemorrhage attack, collapsing suddenly in his chair with his head reversed. Fr. Donat’s funeral was celebrated the following February 24. His body was temporarily buried in the vault of friends, while waiting for a new monument for the Assumption to be installed in the new cemetery of Vals.

Addenda.

Portrait.

“s a young priest, Fr. Donat was sent to the alumnate of Saint-Roch of Poussan where the 6th form is given to his care. Right from the start, he shows that he is a good pedagogue, gifted with qualities that will be his during his whole life. With no pretension to pure intellectualism, he is a realistic teacher, with common sense, and very close to his students. He excels in French and can complete and repair their formation, which is often lacking, but also in Latin to give them a solid base. Father Donat is very clear, methodical, and progressive; he is patient but at the same time demanding and both loved and feared together. It is based on this reputation that Fr. Didier receives him in 1931 for a house for late vocations. After 18 years, when Fr. Donat returns to the alumnates, it is to take up the same 6th form and show the same qualities as before, refined and enriched by experience. Thus, everywhere he goes, to Chanac, Soisy, Davézieux, even though at 64 years old, it is more difficult, he does well. He suffers from hypertension: neither medicines nor diets help lower this tension and the noisy presence of youth becomes difficult for him…”

Symphorien (Elie) Terraz

1872-1944

Religious of the Province of Paris.

Biographical summary.

Elie Terraz, brother of the future Father Marc and cousin of Brother Humbert, was born February 20, 1872 at Notre-Dame du Pré (Savoie) in Tarentaise. He experienced the alumnate life at Notre-Dame des Châteaux (1886-1889) and finished his formation at the Nîmes alumnate (Gard) from 1889 to 1890. He took the religious habit at the Phanaraki novitiate (Turkey) August 15, 1891 under the name of Brother Symphorien and the guidance of Fr. Ernest Baudouy. It was there that he pronounced his first vows August 15, 1892. He was sent for studies to Notre-Dame de France in Jerusalem (1893-1898), was received for perpetual vows November 1, 1893, and ordained to the priesthood by Msgr. Appodia September 17, 1897. As a young priest, he was sent to the mission in New Orleans, U.S.A., to evangelize the Blacks (1898-1900). He then returned to the Oriental mission in various positions: Gallipoli (1900-1902), Eski-Chéïr (1902-1903) in Turkey, and Varna, in Bulgaria (1903-1905). His superiors sent him again to the U.S.A. in New York (1905-1919). He applied for and obtained full American citizenship, since he spoke English well (1911). This naturalization did not avoid him problems during World War I. Fr. Symphorien was first mobilized at Chambéry (Savoie) from August 15 to November 3, 1914 as infirmarian. He was able to return to New York in December 1914. Mobilized a second time under the Dalbiez Law, he was recalled to France in February 1916 and sent as a military infirmarian in a Lyons hospital (June-December 1916). Given his deferment, he returned to New York January 25, 1917. From New York, in 1919, he went to the Notre-Dame de Lumières novitiate (Vaucluse) from 1919 to 1920. His next obedience led him to Belgium at Taintegnies (1920-1921), then to Zepperen (1921) where he taught English. At the time of the division into provinces in 1923, he chose to be part of the new Province of Paris, while his brother, Fr. Marc, chose that of Bordeaux. Their nephew, Fr. Donatien Terraz, remained in the Province of Lyons. After two years at Zepperen (1921-1923), Fr. Symphorien returned to serve in America, but this time at the college in Worcester (1923-1930). His last obedience was to Davézieux (Ardèche) where he was named in 1930. He was given the responsibility of teaching beginning English to the young alumnists. Since this task was not enough to fill the days of a veteran of the missions of the Orient and North America, he spent a good part of his time serving the parish of Davézieux, without a pastor since 1930. Moreover, the bishop of Viviers wished this parish to be served by the Assumptionist religious who had established an alumnate in the commune since 1927. Fr. Symphorien described the locality in 1933: “Davézieux is situated on a plateau along the right bank of the Rhône River. More than 20 villages are spread out over this plateau of 20 km. When the weather is clear, one can clearly see on the East the immaculate top of Mont Blanc, the Alps of Savoy, and the mountains of Dauphiné, which, at that time of the year, are covered with a brilliant snow… In the middle of this plateau, in a very defined bowl, is hidden the city of Annonay, a true evocation of an old oriental city. You can see houses dating back to at least 400 years, built by masons who didn’t know how to use a plumb line. You wonder how the walls still remain standing. Why go to Italy to see the leaning tower of Pisa? Come to Annonay; you will see hundreds of leaning houses, and in some places, huge overhead beams crossing the street, shoring up the houses that threaten to collapse on the heads of passers-by…” Fr. Symphorien died at Davézieux on Saturday, October 29, 1944. He was buried Monday, October 30, the very day that another religious of the house, Brother Jean-Baptiste Lagarde, died.

Addenda.

Fr. Symphorien first came to the USA with Fr. Tranquille Pesse on 23 October 1905. Both thought they would be named superior in Worcester, but Fr. Symphorien was sent to New Orleans to care for a parish and help with the new foundation, whereas Fr. Tranquille was named superior in 1906 in Worcester. While in Worcester, 17 May 1927, Symphorien obtained a U. S. patent for a specialized sundial. He taught especially biology in Worcester.

Fr. Symphorien (1872-1944), after having been a missionary in the Orient from 1899 to 1905, spent some twenty years in America, and since that time, he was pastor at Davézieux. He was a gifted scientist, capable of a thousand inventions, but especially a brave man. His older brother, Fr. Marc, worked at Santos Lugares and one of his cousins, Bro. Humbert, died at Zongouldagh. [Lettre à la dispersion, No. 39, 1944]

The old Fathers narrate the following: Fr. Symphorien had poor eyesight and took snuff. His cowl showed signs of this. One day, they told him that a big pastor was waiting for him in the parlor. He went quickly to his room to shave and clean up. In the parlor, they had put a bust of the Curé d’Ars.

As he left for France in 1928, a pickpocket in the Worcester railroad station stole a large sum from him. Bro. Sylvestre Troussard who accompanied him was also robbed. While at Davézieux, he set up a marvelous manger scene for Christmas having a water wheel that moved with pennies.

From a letter by Fr. Symphorien to his Provincial dated 21 June 1927.

It will soon be 4 years that I have been attached to the College in Worcester as a teacher. Fr. Clodoald first gave me a sophomore class. I had to dust off Latin, Greek, and French grammars that I had not touched since the alumnate: i.e. 35 years… For the second year of teaching, the Superior called me to his office 3 weeks before classes started to tell me that I would be in charge of algebra and English. I told Fr. Clodoald that at 54 years old, I had never opened an algebra book and that as far as English was concerned, I didn’t feel ready to teach a language that my students already had worked on for years. All of this was to no avail since he named me to teach both. I did the best I could, but a miracle did not take place and my third year saw me teaching biology. I should have been flattered to go from the ranks of teaching high school to that of college professor… For the fourth year, they gave me a “pre-med” course to teach… What does next year have in store for me? I have no idea… I don’t find this funny at all. Our students left for summer vacations on 15 June.

He was part of the team that went to Louisiana to attempt a foundation among the Negroes. He arrived there around Christmas 1898, about a year before the mission was closed. He returned to the United States and taught at the Prep School in Worcester in the 1920s. The students gave him a hard time in the classes!

(Fr. Armand Desautels)

Varna, 1904.

“About two months ago, I sent you a brave letter asking very simply for the Catechism in Pictures, under pretext that it would be good for our Catholic children. I am not sure that my conscience was very much at peace because of my indiscretion, but I threw the letter in the mailbox not even reflecting on the gravity of this sin. Then I was remorseful for having signed such a request. But Fr. Vincent de Paul is as charitable as his holy patron, with requests coming from all sides! Two months later, the post office advised me that there was a package to pick up. It is strange how quickly they answer you at la Bonne Presse! You can’t imagine how happy we are even though for the customs of Varna it takes at least 4 hours, even for small packages! When they asked me to declare the content, without blinking I said that they were almanachs. Thanks to you, the catechism enters through the eyes and the ears of our children and it never leaves them. I have them recite the prayer before and after the religious instruction for your intentions. Many thanks, my good and charitable Father!”

Letter to Fr. Picard by Fr. Symphorien Terraz

Esplanade Avenue 1819, New Orleans, LA. USA 11 November 1899

My Very Reverend Father,

Thank you for your letter of last 26 October. I appreciate the wise advice and encouragement that you send me and I promise to take advantage of them.

However, your letter gives me the impression that you were badly impressed by the excessive impatience that I showed concerning the future of our mission in Louisiana. I regret having annoyed you, my Very Reverend Father, and I would ask you to kindly forget my vivacious language. Religious obedience brought me from Jerusalem to Louisiana. I was and still am a young religious, lacking experience, with the naïve belief that all should go well and quickly. Sadly, I found myself in a house of suffering and transformation. The trials and the slowness that Providence had placed on my path had unbalanced me. Your letter came just in time to guide me on the right path.

Our friends assure us that the archbishop would be more in favor of giving us a parish than a public chapel and it may be wise to check out with discretion the archbishop on this point… Besides, the diocese will do nothing concerning paying for our house since it already has large debts itself.

In summary, The Archbishop has kind and flattering words for the Assumption; he wants the Press and the Missions, believes that these are necessary works, and feels that the time is ripe to undertake them and their success is certain. But the material guarantees granted by Msgr. Chapelle do not seem in conformity with your wishes.

We do hope that what seems a difficulty for us will solve itself through your wisdom and the discernment that we pray for you to receive…  Symphorien Terraz

Bavo Maurits (Albertus-Antonius) Theys

1916-1993

Religious of the Province of North Belgium.

Formation.

Albert Antoine Theys was born at Kortrijk-Dutsel January 19, 1916, Belgian Brabant, in the diocese of Malines. He began his secondary studies at the Zepperen alumnate (1929-1933) and finished his humanities at Kapelle-os-den-Bos (1933-1935). He entered the Taintegnies novitiate September 29, 1935 where he took the religious habit under the name of Brother Bavo. Fr. Domitien Meuwissen, master of novices, presented him for his first vows taken September 30, 1936: “Brother Bavo, with a lively character and who is susceptible but usually friendly, went through novitiate timidly but surely. He has difficulty opening up, but succeeded in being more simple and trusting”. Having finished novitiate, Brother Bavo went to the Saint-Gérard scholasticate for philosophy (1936-1938). He passed through the Saint-Augustine house in Louvain to study theology. He was admitted to perpetual profession and made his vows March 31, 1940. His local superior, Fr. Polyeucte Guissard, did not hide the character and relational difficulties Brother Bavo had. “Brother Bavo needs to continue being careful, notably on the points that occasioned a six month delay in his perpetual profession. He knows that he has a tendency to murmur and discuss because of his natural vivacity and his spontaneous resistance to authority. He needs to become more flexible and join to an exterior obedience that of the submission of the heart. On the other hand, he is well gifted for studies, has an open, willful, and energetic intelligence”. In 1940, the Louvain convent was totally destroyed by bombs and had to be abandoned. Thus, Brother Bavo continued his studies at Saint-Gérard. Msgr. Charue, bishop of Namur, ordained him a priest there July 27, 1942.

In the teaching ministry.

Having graduated from Louvain University in Thomist philosophy, he taught philosophy in 1945 at Taintegnies, then from 1945 to 1948 at Saint-Gérard. In 1948, he was sent to the college in Worcester (U.S.A.) with the agreement of his provincial, Fr. Rodrigue Moors: “Father Bavo, from the Belgian Province, was transferred in 1948 to the Province of North America for three years. Since he wanted to renew his transfer, Fr. Wilfrid Dufault wrote to me that he agreed”. The advantage that Fr. Bavo had over normal humans was that he was a true philosopher, really so, since the terrible war years did not prevent him from graduating in philosophy from Louvain and teach during three years in a scholasticate. One of Father’s favorite sayings was that philosophy leads everywhere, as long as one gets out of it, preferably with a smile. In June 1953, however, he was a victim of the tornado that destroyed the college in Worcester and had to return to Belgium to be treated for trauma. He then taught for a short time at the Putte house (1953). From 1953 to 1980, he lived at Stabroek and Borsbeck. During this period, he taught philosophy at the S.V.D. scholasticate in Kalmtout and the Assumptionist scholasticate at Leuven. From 1980 on, he was part of the Kapelle-os-den-Bos community and gave courses at Malines at the Ecole Supérieure of Nursing at Leuven. He died at Kapelle January 29, 1993, close to 78 years old. His body rests in the cemetery of the village.

Personality.

Fr. Bavo was an intelligent man, even erudite, always searching for truth, a bit cynical but with a great sense of humor. He lived a bit apart from others, for he had a need for a certain freedom and especially a feeling of autonomy. He liked to till the soil, cultivate plants, and plant trees. He admired and respected nature. It assured him his human equilibrium. Nature also gave him access to the mystery of God.

Addenda.

Letter to Fr. Henri Moquin from Fr. Bavo Theys dated June 1955.

I hope that your Province grows during this year of 1955. Fr. Ildefons sent me the projected plans for your new college published in the Boston Post Magazine. I must tell you that I am in admiration. I must say that the Americans are braver than we are. Upon seeing the beautiful site and the magnificent buildings, I was tempted to ask for a transfer. I imagine that in a few years you’ll have a full contingent of personnel as I look at the American students at Lormoy. For my part, I am still a philosophy prof at Putte (Antwerp). We have a nice property here, a castle, and 30 hectares of oak and beech trees.

Glance.

“A sympathetic Belgian, yes, it happens. Plus a doctor of philosophy. He is young; so are we all, to be sure, but I imagined him more venerable, bald, and with a beard. I don’t know why. No doubt it was because the philosophers that I had met in my youth fit this description. And Socrates, don’t they say about him? Well, let us pass on that… He was ordained a priest in 1942; I figure that he must be 32, the perfect age or the age that expects stubbornly a brilliant future, the age when one looks to the future. He arrived here on 5 November, fresh, pink and all smiles. Belgium saw my birth, he confided, but when will it see me again? Is his to be the vocation of a ‘globe-trotter’? Quien sabe! Some claim that his soul sings: he is always humming a romance. So much the better, it is a sign of youth. Fr. Bavo found the crossing on the Nieuw Amsterdam a bit rough, but as a good philosopher he took advantage of this to meditate on the fragility of the greatness of this world. Vanitas vanitatum. What do you want? Father does not have good sea legs, and who could blame him? Quandoque dormitat et bonus Homerus!”

Sylvestre Troussard

1887-1965

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A religious life in the New World.

Sylvestre Troussard was born December 29, 1887 at Cissey-lès-Merceuil on the Côte d’Or. Before entering the Assumption, he did two years of military service at Dijon (Côte d’Or), from 1908 to 1910. April 29, 1913, Fr. Possidius Dauby who gave him the religious habit, under the name of Brother Sylvestre, and after a postulancy of five months, received him as a coadjutor novice at the Louvain novitiate. His religious life project continued at the college in Worcester, Massachusetts, (U.S.A.) where he went from May to August of 1914, but from where he was recalled by the military to serve on the Western front until March 1919. He was finally able to return to the Worcester community from 1919 to 1922. He was called back to Saint-Gérard in Belgium where he made his first vows November 1, 1923. His obedience sent him once more to Worcester where he remained from 1923 to 1939. He pronounced his perpetual vows there August 6, 1927. At the dawn of World War II, he returned to France to the Soisy-sur-Seine community, his last residence (1913-1965). He died at the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune (Côte d’Or) May 9, 1965 at the age of 78. His funeral was held Wednesday, May 12, in the parish church of Merceuil, his native village. He was buried in the family vault in the Merceuil cemetery. On Friday, May 13 an office in his memory was celebrated in the parish church of Soisy-sur-Seine with the participation of the Ermitage alumnate.

Testimony by Fr. David Laurent.

“Brother Sylvestre was a humble soul, with a rough exterior and a heart of gold. He often grumbled, not by lack of devotedness, since he always did meticulously the most difficult work as well as the most hidden. This most likely came from his Bourguignon temperament, and in my opinion especially because his spirit of poverty was very great and he was annoyed by the smallest failures to observe it. I liked Brother Sylvestre a lot because of his great honesty and his deep piety. The Virgin came to take him during the month of May. For him, I am sure, this was a grace, since he had a Marian devotion that was so great that, it seems to me, this was the most characteristic trait of his religious life. It was known by all that every Saturday he would take his shower and also get his spiritual cleaning like a clock! His habits of cleanliness and order were common knowledge to all. Woe to the one who had misplaced one of the tools in his shoe repair shop or the boiler room! With the same care and punctuality, he was the postmaster at the Ermitage for many years. If perchance, illness impeded him from going to the Post Office, the whole town became agitated. His old three-wheeler with a basket was the wake-up call for our nearest neighbors. I can still remember his great emotion, even to tears, the day he broke it while missing a curve in front of the monument of the dead! He regretted his clumsiness as a lack of poverty although he took such great care of it! Everyone knows how much he liked to talk: Verdun and the War of 1914-1918 were his favorite subjects, but his favorite books, the ones that he read assiduously, were the lives of saints and the history of France. His knowledge was astounding. He loved his brothers greatly. He was teased by them just like children do with a grand father, and was perhaps a bit grouchy, but so good, so full of supernatural spirit. Toward the end of his life, a bad sciatic nerve in the right leg made walking difficult, but it was only in November 1964 that the first symptoms of paralysis appeared. His leg lost its vigor and his right hand started to get stiff. He had to abandon his last job, that of postmaster. It became clear that it was hemiplegia (paralysis of one side), slow but irreparable. He was hospitalized in January 1965 at the Corbeil Hospital (Essonne). Thanks to his sister and a nephew from Verdun-sur-le-Doubs, the Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune accepted to receive him February 1, 1965. Having returned to his native Burgundy, Brother Sylvestre was encouraged. From Soisy we went to visit him from time to time. He died there Sunday, May 9, 1965”.

Addenda.

In Worcester, he was the driver for the superior. The community had only one car, a Buick.

Brother Sylvestre was stationed three times at Assumption in Worcester, in 1914, until he returned to France for the war; from 1919 to 1922; and again from 1923 to 1939. For canonical reasons, he had to start his novitiate over again in 1922. He was a tremendously hard worker and, in spite of his roughness, was a fine community man. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Soisy-sur-Seine, 1961.

“This is a poor beggar who comes to ask your goodness and especially your charity, with the authorization of Father Provincial [Paul Charpentier] and Fr. Superior [David Laurent], a prolongation of rest in Bourgogne, since at the present I am handicapped by rheumatism in the right shoulder and arm. I wasn’t able to work during the whole month of May, but now things are a bit better, although I am quite tired. I place all of this in your hands with obedience for a final decision. The work for the new construction at Soisy has started, but it is dragging; it doesn’t have the fast pace of things like the enterprises in America of which I have kept a good souvenir. I remain your devoted religious. When will you come to visit us here?”

(Brother Sylvestre.)

Post scriptum by Fr. David Laurent: “I am very much in favor of extending dear Brother Sylvestre’s vacation since he has worked so hard all year, so that he can recuperate all his strength in his dearly loved Bourgogne. Two months would permit him to recuperate his former vitality”.

Marcellinus (Jacobus-Antonius) Trum

1916-1985

Religious of the Province of Holland.

A formation between Belgium and Holland.

Jacobus Antonius Trum, called Jac or James according to various obediences, was born May 3, 1916 at ‘s Herteogenbosch, Holland. After his studies at the apostolic school of Sainte-Thérèse of Boxtel (1929-1935), he did his novitiate at Taintegnies in Belgium where he took the religious habit September 29, 1935 under the name of Brother Marcellinus. He pronounced his first vows there September 30, 1936. Fr. Domitien Meuwissen, his master of novices, presented him in the following manner: “an intelligent religious, gifted for music, drawing, and languages, full of common sense, who always looks at the good side of things and doesn’t get too upset over things. I hope that he will get more fervor and generosity in serving. He is a bit lacking in energy and is not attracted to mortifications. I think that he will always need to be prodded forward to keep him in an energetic direction”. After novitiate, he did two years of philosophy at Saint-Gérard and a year teaching at Boxtel. In September 1939, he started theology at Louvain and, after a period of exodus in France, had to pursue his studies in the Dutch scholasticate of Bergeyk. He was admitted to pronounce his perpetual vows September 30, 1939 and was ordained to the priesthood at Nimègue July 18, 1943. In February of the following year, Brother Marcellinus who took the name of James was named to teach philosophy at the Bergyek scholasticate (1944-1948), then he left to teach the same subject at Nultfield College in England while he took courses at London University.

A life of ministry ‘sui generis’.

From 1953 on, Father James usually resided in the United States. Teaching sociology, Latin, and religion at the college in Worcester (Massachusetts), he was granted his Master of Arts Degree in philosophy in 1956 from the University of New York. During 1955-1956, he exercised his ministry in Canada. In 1957, he returned to Holland during which time he helped with ministering in the Millingen parish. At the end of the year, he left again for the United States. He was placed in charge of pastoral ministry to immigrants where he worked as assistant to Msgr. Swanstrom with the permission of Cardinal Spellman (New York), and was linked to the Resettlement Division. Then in March 1959, he was named  ‘missionnarius emigrantium’ by the Congregation of Bishops and traveled throughout the United States. [In fact, Fr. James Trum’s ministry will evolve progressively through the years. More and more in charge of parish ministry, he usually lived with secular priests, living quite detached from the Assumption. The desire of the provincial curia of Holland was to have him attached or affiliated to the North American Province, but it seemed that Fr. James, very desirous of independence, preferred the loose structure of legally and morally belonging to his original Province, without the obligation of community life. Each year, the Roman Congregation of Bishops asked that his indult for pastoral assistance to immigrants, which Fr. Edward Van Monfoort helped him to obtain, as an immigrated European priest be renewed,] In November 1962, he joined an international organism that programmed food for the Third World. Named director of the Catholic Relief Services for Cameroon, he needed to be an American citizen and got his papers November 20, 1962. In June 1962, Fr. James was seriously hurt in an auto accident in Liberia. After several months of rest in Holland, he returned to the United States in October 1965, worked half time for immigrants, was curate at Saint-Andrew’s in New York, and, beginning in 1974, worked in pastoral ministry at Saint Peter’s in the same city. At the end of 1984, Fr. James went for a vacation to Holland where he was called Jac. His health situation required that he enter the rest home of Molenweide in Boxtel; then, in February 1985, his transfer to Bois-le-Duc Hospital took place. He died February 14, 1985 and was buried a few days later in the cemetery of the Province.

Addenda.

Fr. James studied at Boston College where he received his Master’s Degree in philosophy in 1954, He also did special studies in Philosophy, Economics, and Sociology and Matriculated at London University (1951-1953) where he passed the Intermediate Arts Degree.

Rome, 22 April, 1970.

In answer to your request of 16 March 1970 concerning Fr. Marcellinus Trum, I come to answer you at once. Please excuse me for not having written sooner, but I was absent from Rome during several weeks. During this absence, I met with the Provincial of Father Trum [Edward Van Monfoort] and he gave me the following explanation: Father Trum is now attached to an Assumptionist community in New York (U.S.A.) where he is doing fine work. If this religious still needs an authorization for residency in the U.S.A., his Provincial suggests asking for an extension in total agreement with the Superior General [Paul Charpentier}. Please accept my religious respect”.

(Fr. Félicien Sleutjes, General Procurator to Monsignore Ernesto Civardi, secretary of the Congregation for Bishops.)

Letter by Fr. Marcellinus Trum dated 3 May 1953.

Dear Fr. Provincial,

As you probably know from my Provincial (Rev. Fr. Wiro van den Dungen) I have been in England since 1948. Until last year I had been teaching and studying philosophy and now I am just studying philosophy and filling the gaps with parish and supply work.

I matriculated at London University, passed the Intermediate Arts and after that started on a three-year course for a B.A. degree in Philosophy of which course I shall have completed two years at the end of this term. A B.A. degree qualifies for teaching in any college in England, as you probably know.

As the Rev. Provincial intends a possible change for me, I give you this information (at his request) so that you might be in a better position to judge about any future possibilities if the intended change can be made effective.  Father Marcellinus Trum

Letter to Fr. Bernard Guillet by Fr. Marcellinus Trum from St. Louis, MO.

Many thanks for the letter you forwarded to me as well as for your own little note with the Assumptionist literature that you sent me consequently.

I know I should have written earlier but I had to wait this long because my situation was not definite. In fact I cannot stay. When I arrived here, I took immediate steps to enroll at the university but when they heard that I had been given not more than two years to get a Ph. D. degree, they strongly advised me not to go through with it since it would not be possible, in their opinion, to get the degree in such a short time. I wrote to my provincial about it but he did not think it possible to allow me the much-needed four years.

So I am returning to Holland for a vacation and from there I’ll probably go to New Zealand.

Consequently I would like to ask you to do me a big favor. The pastor would like to keep me here as long as possible for he has counted on me for several special occasions. (The church is at the same time a shrine for pilgrimages, etc.) He has a Triduum coming up Nov. 19, etc. Moreover, that would give him a chance to look out for other arrangements for the immediate future. Perhaps you could make, with Fr. Moquin’s approval, the necessary arrangements for a sailing, if possible, on or around the tenth of December. What I would like to know as soon as possible, however, is the definite date of sailing that you could arrange for me, so that the pastor may know exactly how long I am able to stay.

I realize that it would have been preferable to write to Fr. Moquin directly but I may risk perhaps his being away on business.

I thank you in advance for whatever you may be able to do in order to be agreeable to the parish priest who has been most kind to me.

I trust you will allow me also to call on your hospitality the last few days before sailing.

With best wishes to you and to everybody in 156th Street, including Mrs. Martin and Hortensia, I am… Fr. Marcellinus Trum, A.A.

Felipe Uceda

General Tomb
of Old Cemetery Longue Pointe, Québec

1723-1917

1864-1906

Spanish religious.

An almost unknown religious.

We have only found for this coadjutor brother a laconic mention of his death, without a date, published in l’Assomption of November 1, 1906: “Bro. Philippe Uceda, lay brother, of the Augustinians of the Assumption, at Greendale (America).” His name is inscribed in the necrology for October 11, and according to the date given for his birth, he died at the age of 42 in the U.S.A. According to the Register for Professions, he said that he was born November 23, 1864 at Berlanga (Spain). He took the religious habit March 19, 1892, no doubt at Livry in France (Seine-Saint-Denis) and pronounced his first vows October 15, 1894. There is no personal file under his name in Rome and the general files of the archives say nothing about him. We deduce with reservations that, after his first profession, this religious undoubtedly was sent to South America where the mission dates to the 1890s and from there, that he went to the North of the continent at a date unknown to us. We reproduce the biographical notice from the booklet on the deceased religious in North America that says: “A Spanish lay brother, involved in the beginnings of the Congregation in North America at New York City and for the attempt to found an alumnate in Granby and at Worcester in 1904. A mental illness caused his transfer to a hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God at Longue Pointe, Montreal, December 20, 1905. He died there and was buried in Montreal.” An excerpt from a letter that we quote helps us to understand in which context the Assumption implanted itself in North America. It illustrates one of the stages of the life of Brother Felipe.

From a letter from America.

Dated October 2, 1906, Fr. Tranquille Pesse (1873-1940) wrote from Worcester to Fr. Emmanuel Bailly, superior general, in Rome: “I write to you hurriedly to transmit a bit of sad news. A telegram sent yesterday from Montreal announced the death of Brother Philippe Uceda; a letter arrived today saying that the Brother caught cold September 28 and that he died in two days. The brother is buried in Montreal. Fr. Adrien [Buisson, 1863-1954] wrote to his family and the New York community will send out the notification to all of the houses of the Congregation to ask for the customary prayers. I am quite busy these days with the buildings; however there are no major problems up to now. Fr. Symphorien [Terraz, 1872-1944} is doing his retreat here among us while Fr. Omer [Rochain] replaces him in New York. I urgently remind you of my letter sent last week and am impatiently awaiting reinforcements and news.”[Thus, this letter, discovered in the ACR, eliminates all doubts concerning imprecisions and even errors that were reproduced from our usual sources of information. Let us notice first of all that the date of the death of Brother Felipe Uceda can be corrected. He should not be listed under October 11 in the Necrology, but

rather October 1, 1906, according to the explicit indication of Fr. Tranquille’s letter. He is not buried in Worcester but clearly in the cemetery of the city of Montreal. The mention that Fr. Adrien wrote to Brother Felipe’s family is not fortuitous. This Brother did his novitiate at Osma in Spain (1882-1884), where he stayed until 1890. Fr. Adrien can very well have known Brother Felipe in Spain. Fr. Adrien then left for the mission of Chile until 1902 and ended up in the U.S.A. We think that his personal itinerary can correspond perfectly with that of Brother Felipe].

Addenda.

Bro. Felipe was involved in the beginnings of the Congregation in North America: in New York City, in the unsuccessful attempt to found an alumnate-agricultural school in Granby, Massachusetts, and then in Worcester in 1904.

Letter by Fr. Emmanuel Bailly Dated Rome, November 3, 1906.

Two new bereavements have come to us. Within a few days, we have lost two of our best lay brothers. At Worcester, (United States) Brother Felipe Uceda died of pneumonia, which carried him away after three days. He died in a house where the deterioration of his health had caused him to be committed two years ago. Brother was born in Berlanga (Spain). Aged 42 years, he had taken the habit in 1892 and had about twelve years of profession. Everywhere he went, at Livry, at Laujeon, at Bordeaux, at New York, at Greendale, he edified by his spirit of prayer and mortification and by his never-failing devotion to duty. A single example will show to what extent his holiness impressed the faithful: in Bordeaux, when he went to the grocer to get provisions for the community, he got them free, the grocer asking only for his prayers. [E. Bailly]

Brother Felipe had arrived in New York with Fr. Thomas Darbois and Fr. Isidore Gayraud on December 30, 1901. In May 1903, he was sent to Granby, and when the Granby fiasco closed in July, he went to Worcester. Brother was indeed given to mysticism, but it soon became folly. He had made himself a chalice of wood, and in his room he secretly ‘said Mass.’ He was sent to an asylum near Montreal. The following document gives more details.

October 1 (not 11 as the Worcester archives have) 1906, died Rev. Brother Felipe Uceda at the asylum St. Benedict Joseph Labre, Longue Pointe, Quebec, Canada, and buried the 3rd of the same month in the cemetery of Longue Pointe, Canada. Were present Brother Louis Fancault and Brother St. Jacques who signed, after reading [the document]. (Brother Abramarus, Sup.) [He was buried with his crucifix and rosary. I’ll send you some old books and pictures as well as some letters that he had.]

Editor’s notes.

I have had some research done concerning Felipe Uceda and find that his life is linked closely to Frs. Adrien Buisson and Thomas Darbois who were both in Osma, Spain for quite some time and both fluent in Spanish. Fr. Buisson left for Chile to be there right from the beginning and we find both Fr. Thomas Darbois and Bro. Felipe Uceda in Chile from 1890 to 1901. At this point, both of these religious arrive in New York City on December 31, 1901 and not December 30 as noted above. Then they both go to Granby for the foundation of the new alumnate on 8 May 1903 and finally end up together as part of the first community in Worcester in November 1903.

After intensive research in the government archives of Canada and the various parishes and cemeteries, we came up with the General Tomb of the Old Cemetery of Longue Pointe, Quebec, Canada where the bones of all those buried in the old cemetery of Longue Pointe had been exhumed. Those that are to be found seem to include the remains of Bro. Felipe Uceda since all the remains from 1723 to 1917 are to be found under the marker installed there and pictured above.  The inscription reads: “Here lie the exhumed bones of the old cemetery of Longue Pointe 1723-1917.”

Janvier (Marie-Joseph) Vallon

1886-1918

French religious who died at the front.

A life cut down by the war.

Marie Joseph Vallon was born at Saint-Etienne (Loire) October 19, 1886. He began his studies with the Benedictines at Marseilles (Bouches-du-Rhône) from 1898 to 1899. A late vocation, he finished his secondary studies at the Sart-les-Moines alumnate in Belgium from 1904 to 1907. He went to the Louvain novitiate where he took the Assumptionist habit September 11, 1907, under the name of Brother Janvier. Professed annually in 1908, he made his perpetual vows at Gempe September 12, 1911. He was then able to do his philosophy at the Saint-Augustine scholasticate in Louvain (1909-1911). After his philosophy formation, he was sent as a reinforcement to Assumption College in Worcester (Massachusetts, U.S.A.). Besides monitoring and teaching a few hours, he was in charge of singing and a group of musicians that were to be the base of a future orchestra. He accomplished these various functions with an enthusiasm and devotedness that were characteristic of him. The following year, 1913, he was sent to the Locarno College in Switzerland. It was there that he was called up to do his military service on the front lines in September 1915 with the 21st Infantry Battalion. He quickly gained the trust of his leaders, became an officer candidate in September 1916, was promoted to second lieutenant, and then to lieutenant in 1918. He was wounded in a bomb explosion June 14, 1917 and after being treated, went back to the front lines, barely healed, having asked to return to his command as soon as possible. During the retreat of l’Aisne, at the time of the last German offensive on the Western front in the spring of 1918, he was mortally wounded in the heart by several machine gun bullets May 28, 1918, on Hill 178 near Courlandon (Marne). Brother Janvier was only 32. His body remained in the battlefield. At first, he was declared missing, and it was thought that he had been made prisoner until a friend of the religious, looking in March 1919 for the tomb of his son killed in battle, discovered in the Villesavoye cemetery (Aisne), near Fismes, the burial spot of Brother Janvier next to his son’s. In 1927, Brother Janvier received posthumously the Cross of the Legion of Honor.

From a letter of Major R. Monigé, July 13, 1918.

“I am pleased to answer you as soon as possible, since I believe that I do not have very bad news to give concerning Lieutenant Vallon from my company. I would long ago have very willingly given news concerning him to his family, but I didn’t have their address. Lieutenant Vallon disappeared with his whole section since May 28, at 13 o’clock. At this time, my whole company was deployed on a front of more than 1200 meters to try to stop the Germans. His section was on the extreme left, in contact with a neighboring corps. Our mission was to protect the retreat of the battalion that was reforming behind us. We were told to hold the line until the end. When the enemy attack was launched, I was in the center of my company. Outflanked on the two wings, I was able to fall back with a few of my infantrymen but I was unable to get any news from my poor comrades. My opinion is that Lieutenant Vallon was taken prisoner, possibly wounded, but certainly is not dead. May his family keep up their hope as I do myself, since I do expect to see him again!”

Addenda.

Brother Janvier was killed in action at the Marne in World War I. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

From the front lines, May 1918.

“Please excuse me for taking so long to answer you concerning your advice about my salary. I am living on my summit as a hermit in the desert: no post office, no regimental postman, nothing. I was finally able to send a cyclist from the valley to get me a money order for 300 francs that I sent you yesterday. I still am not too well settled on my expenses or my salary. In March, I received 435 francs, in April, 715 with back pay and augmentations. Our main expenses come from the food, between 6 to 9 francs a day, depending on the company. On the average, I must figure on 210 francs a month, plus 20 for the ordering. Besides, I had to buy a uniform, since mine had stayed in Paris. Morally, things are always difficult here. For more than 40 days, we have not had any religious services. That means that I couldn’t attend mass. The lack of activity of a defensive sector, the improper conversations of many officers discourage me a lot and at times I hope to enter the furnace, preferring to risk my body rather than my soul. I don’t have the right to be too demanding on others, nevertheless I become nauseous when I see so much corruption...”

Paulien (Prosper-Claudius) Vassel

1887-1967

Religious of the Province of Paris.

A life of service on numerous fronts.

Prosper Claudius Vassel was born August 6, 1887 at Jullianges, a village of the Haute-Loire situated close to the famous Chaise-Dieu Abbey in the diocese of Puy. His dad was a foreman at the S.N.C.F. [railroad] and moved to the Côte-d’Azur for his work. Because of this, young Prosper Claudius went to a school in Menton and met Fr. Frédéric Raynaud who was famous for his originality and his devotedness to the alumnates. His uncle, the future Fr. Marie-Pierre Vassel, preferred to choose for his nephew a diocesan school called la Chartreuse, near the city of Puy. He did his studies there from 1898 to 1904. However, at the end of his studies, the young man asked to enter the Assumption. September 18, 1904, he took the religious habit at the Louvain novitiate in Belgium under the name of Brother Paulien. His uncle chose the same route in 1907. Brother Paulien made his profession September 18, 1905. He studied philosophy at Louvain (1906-1909) and made his perpetual vows June 7, 1907. In 1909, Brother Paulien was sent to the United States to the college in Worcester. He taught Latin and helped out in the treasurer’s office. In 1912, Brother Paulien went to Notre-Dame de France in Jerusalem for his theology (1912-1914). He first had to be treated for a bad case of typhoid from which he would feel the after-effects during his whole life. War interrupted this time of formation that he finished in Rome where he was ordained a priest May 3, 1915. As soon as the school year finished, he left again for Worcester where he was needed. Among his students, he had Wilfrid Dufault and Henri Moquin, later Superior General and Treasurer General. From 1919 to 1921, Fr. Paulien was named to serve in the New York parish at 14th Street. This was followed by a year at the college (1921-1922) and another stay in the New York parish (1922-1925). Chaplain at Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Little Sisters of the Assumption until 1927, his ministry was active, clear, and well-ordered as he served all. Very assiduous to the confessional, he was the Providence of penitents who found him at any time of the day and even, sometimes, at night. In 1927, once again he returned to the college of Worcester as treasurer until 1930, before he took up pastoral ministry at the other New York Assumptionist parish, Our Lady of Esperanza, at 156th Street. In December 1931, Fr. Paulien left the U.S.A. for good. He went to England where he stayed six years, successively curate at Rickmansworth, Newhaven-Peacehaven, treasurer at Hitchin, and finally at Charlton where he was able to rest a bit. In 1937, he returned to France at the age of 50. He began his ministry at Montmirail (Marne) where he was named pastor during all of World War II while at the same time taking charge of the shrine at Verdelot during the years 1938-1940. He was superior for the group of religious whose pastoral activity was in the sector of both banks of the Little Morin River. He had the joy, after all of the problems during the war, of being able to salute the American liberation troops. In 1945, Fr. Paulien was sent to Vendôme (Loir-et-Cher) as chaplain of the Ronsard public high school, then to Brétigny-sur-Orge where the Christian School Brothers asked for a chaplain for their Froyennes College returned to France. In 1946, he was once again asked to serve as superior of the Essarts novitiate at the time reorganized with difficulty. In 1949, he was named in charge of the orphanage of Fr. Halluin at Arras (Pas-de-Calais) especially to take care of the Saint-Antoine Chapel. He stayed there 14 years, fixing up the place according to his taste, taking care of the chapel, composing homilies, and counting carefully the number of penitents as he had done in New York. Following a heart failure, Fr. Paulien had to be hospitalized, then transferred to Vendôme with the Sisters of the Holy Heart (1962). He wrote a booklet called ‘Spiritualité d’un vieillard’ [Spirituality for an old man]. That was where he died August 12, 1967 and was buried August 14.

Addenda.

1935 in France, Mission Country.

Our Missionaries of  la Brie.

Here is some news from Montmirail and the 33 other parishes: it’s a mission. Just like the Congo or Mandchoukouo, but only 100 km from Paris. Here is the origin of this mission.

In 1929, we were looking for a house for our student candidates for university studies. We thought of a former convent situated at Montmirail, where Bishop Tissier, a friend of the Assumption, would willingly receive us, with a parish in the offing… Finally, the students went to Layrac (near Agen). We kept the parish, and soon we received more parishes when a pastor died. In 1936, we had the whole region…

Then this contagion spread to neighboring dioceses: the Belgian AAs took Vieils-Maisons and 10 other parishes (Soissons diocese)… In 1937, the Meaux diocese gave us Verdelot (with its shrine to Our Lady of Pity) and the neighboring parishes. In all, in 1938 we had 34 parishes in this vast sector of 3 dioceses… few practicing Catholics except at Montmirail, abandoned churches that we had to clean and restore.

Fr. Paulien Vassel, pastor of Verdelot wrote:

In our country churches, it is a spiritual desert. A few children at the Sunday mass, a few women, often not even one man, some 12 persons in all, like at Montdauphin that has 238 citizens.

-Father, we are Catholic, we love our church, you’ll have people for Palm Sunday and November 11th, but we are not practicing Catholics.

That is what several mayors told me. They were nice, but you never see them for confessions or Communion. The mothers say:

-I did all that I could: I had my children baptized, they made their first communion and their solemn communion, and they have been confirmed. I have nothing to reproach myself.

After their communion, and oftentimes before, it is work on Sunday till 1 p.m. and therefore it is impossible to go to mass. Last Christmas morning, I met my good parishioners. There were shepherdesses bringing manure to their fields. The meager religious baggage, obtained with great efforts during 2 years of catechism, with many absences, is quickly lost, and for good. The other day, a grandfather of more than 90years old told me that he had done his first and last communion in 1860.

-I’ll call you when I need you, Father.

But he didn’t have the time to call me.

Others who refused to receive communion at Easter are dead too. Their death was sudden and they had a beautiful 2d class funeral. There is no ill will in these people, just ignorance and self-respect. This is unknown to Canadians and Irish. –If I went to communion, the women of the area would think that I am crazy.

This is what a woman told the sister who encouraged her to go to communion for the Marian jubilee. The Augustinian sisters of Meaux have a tiny community at Verdelot, where they take care of the sacristy, the sick, a small youth club for young girls with a workroom, and even some YCS girls.

In all of the parishes, it is through the youth groups that we are working to rechristianize the country. Fr. Blaise has a YCW group; Fr. Prosper has Crusaders; Fr. Sauveur a scout troop. Each one works in the sense of his character and that of his parishioners. It’s a start. The results are still meager, but we are throwing out seeds.

Adult conversions are rare, but there is great joy for the one who has one from time to time in one of his parishes.  The Fathers notice a change in the attitude of the people since their arrival. There is no hostility. It is still indifference but with a nuance of sympathy; we are well received everywhere or almost everywhere. Our people have a religion of work; this is not far from true religion. –Work from 4 a.m. till 9 p.m., Father, protects morality, honesty, and family life.

The Fathers of Vieils-Maisons who have a sector that is very difficult notice hostility disappearing bit by bit. Verdelot is in the Meaux diocese. The neighboring parishes are at our disposal when we shall have people to take them over. While waiting, Bishop Evrard placed in out care the shrine of Our Lady of Pity with its major pilgrimage on the third Sunday in September.

The celebration will be presided by the Bishop this year, with the company of Fr. Rémi Kokel who will sing the mass and preach at Vespers. I expect the Fathers of Montmirail and Vieils-Maisons with crowds coming from their parishes. The goodwill and shared help among the various groups make Montmirail and other places an interesting project. Starting in next October, common retreats, either at Vieils-Maisons where there is more room or at Montmirail since it is more central, will stimulate fervor and fraternal unity.

Paulien Vassel, Lettre à la Dispersion, 10 October 1938

Father Paulien was a good teacher and a very active apostolic man. Convinced of the importance of the ministry of the confessional, he spent many hours in that ministry. He was in the United States for a long period of time, first as a scholastic in Worcester (1909-1912), then as a priest (1916-1919), then was stationed in New York for several years at Our Lady of Esperanza. After a few years in England, he returned to France where his longest and most important assignment was at the chapel adjoining the orphanage of Arras. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)

Ange (Charles-Louis-J.) Vermech

1873-1953

French religious of the Province of England.

Formation.

Charles Louis Joseph Vermech, [There are at least four orthographs for this name: Vermech is the most common, reproduced and used most often by this religious. This is the one that we have chosen. But there are also: Vermeech, Vermeesch, and Vermesch.], was born at Hersin-Coupigny (Pas-de-Calais) December 12, 1873. He began his secondary studies at the Mauville alumnate (Pas-de-Calais) from 1889 to 1891, then continued several months at Arras (Pas-de-Calais) in 1891, and finished at Clairmarais (Pas-de-Calais) from 1891 to 1892. He took the religious habit December 25, 1892 at the Livry novitiate (Seine-Saint-Denis) under the name Brother Ange and the guidance of Fr. Athanase Vanhove. He pronounced his first vows December 25, 1893 in Phanaraki, at the Asian novitiate in Turkey, as well as his perpetual vows February 2, 1895. It was at Kadi-Keuï, on the banks of the Bosphorus, and in Jerusalem, at Our Lady of France that he did his philosophy and theology (1898-1902). Brother Ange was ordained a priest in Jerusalem October 20, 1901.

Ministry.

On his personal information sheet, Fr. Ange listed his successive residences in the following way: Ismidt during four years as teacher (before 1903), chaplain in New York, U.S.A. from 1903 to 1905, a stay at Clairmarais (1905), curate at Brockley in England from 1905 to 1907, curate four years at Rickmansworth (1907-1911), teacher at Bethnal-Green in London (1911-1913), Newhaven from 1911 to 1949, except during the war of 1914-1918 when he was in the French territorial army and an infantry regiment at Béthune (Pas-de-Calais) where he was in the military chaplaincy service; then from 1949 to 1953 in active communities where he was retired in England. These listings do not always correspond exactly with other studies that we have been able to make concerning his various postings. Nevertheless, it is clear that Fr. Ange spent the greatest part of his long priestly life as pastor of the English parish of Newhaven. The rheumatism that he contracted during World War II never hampered his joyful and generous devotedness. In November 1946, he wrote to Fr. Gervais Quenard to ask for the favor to be part of the new English Province. He has worked there, he said, for 40 years already. Regardless of his age, 73, December 12 [1946], he still thinks that he can serve Our Lord and the Assumption. Fr. Bernardin Bal-Fontaine knew what the religious did in the region. The war, World War II, did not make the situation easy, far from it, but it is not the time to say that there is nothing to do when all has to be redone. Others will one day reap! The manner in which Fr. Ange had of giving himself totally to all, with a certain open-mindedness, made him very popular in the whole city of Newhaven. He handled with patience, good humor, and piety a period of activity at a slower pace when his growing infirmities made any exterior ministry impossible for him. He died at the Capenor novitiate September 23, 1953.

Facts on Newhaven.

“Newhaven was a small city of 7,000 inhabitants in 1928 in the South of England, Sussex County. A small river, the Ouse, crossed it and its mouth served as a port for the ships of the Franco-English Company that sailed between Newhaven-Dieppe. The Newhaven population was mostly of a multicolored Protestantism made up of Anglicans, Congregationalists, Baptists, Wesleyans, Methodists, Primitive Methodists, and Calvinists. The Catholics were a very small minority with 120 at the most: a few dock, railroad, and business workers. The Catholic priest is now esteemed. Some twenty years ago, the port youth would throw stones at the convent doors. The Superior, Fr. Delphin Coussirat, was even obliged to set an example by chasing several and bringing them to the police station holding them by their ears...”. According to the report of Fr. Charles [Ange] Vermech, 1928.

Addenda.

He spent the first two years of his priesthood (1901-1903) in the United States, but his main ministry was in England in the parish of Newhaven where he spent 31 years.

Hersin, 1919.

“I have just returned from Arras and Lille where I was sent urgently for the demobilization. It took me 6 days and I was obliged to return to the hospital to finish certain things that as a priest I could not leave unfinished. I send you the information that you are asking of each one of us and I am adding a word that Fr. Booker, our chaplain, momentarily absent, left in my hut before leaving. Where can I find you? Where should I go for the retreat? As the place where I want to be repatriated, I put Newhaven, but before going through the strait, let me say that I would like to see you. I was very disappointed not to see you in Paris. After that I had to disappear because of an indiscretion. All mailings from La Bonne Presse to my address should be stopped. What a joy it is for me to return to the Assumption and give more than before! Your unworthy son thanks you for the bother he gives you to counsel him, clean him up and shine all the rugged angles that need to be straightened out with a hammer!”.

(Charles Vermech.)

Jude (Joseph-M.-Charles) Verstaen

1893-1960

Religious of the Province of Paris, assistant general (1946-1952), then provincial.

At the dawn of an apostle’s life, a formation at a forced pace.

Joseph Marie Charles Verstaen was born at Bergues (North) September 8, 1893. Orphan because of the death of his father in 1899, he was brought up by a brave mother with four children of whom Joseph was the eldest. In September 1906, Joseph entered the Bizet alumnate (Belgium), under the direction of Fr. Damascène Dhers. A gifted child, reserved, and assiduous in reading, he liked to write poetry, trusting to  poetry his apostolic dreams. He began his humanities right at Le Bizet (1909-1910) before pursuing them at Ascona in Switzerland (1910-1911). August 14, 1911, he took the religious habit at the Gempe novitiate under the direction of Fr. Antoine de Padoue Vidal under the name of Brother Jude. He pronounced his first vows at Limpertsberg in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg August 15, 1912 and his perpetual vows the following year at the same date. After his novitiate, he spent two years teaching at the Zepperen alumnate where, while preparing his classes, he found the time to read many books and summarized them carefully on cards. He was able to go to Louvain for philosophy (1915-1916) directly in third year, summarizing in two months the matter of the two preceding years! The years of studying theology at Louvain (1916-1920) were cut by a few months of forced resting in 1918 at Zepperen. He forced himself to read a book each month by using his sleep time. Brother Jude was ordained to the priesthood at Louvain August 1, 1920. The traits of his intellectual and moral personality were fixed: a man of precision, great culture, mature knowledge while still young. He made one think of a living library with an open spirit always attentive to the opinion of others and a sense of synthesis that made for a judgment that was both sure and finely shaded.

Awakener of youth.

Fr. Jude was immediately assigned to teach at Zepperen (1920-1922), then at the American college in Worcester (1922-1934). Every day, he set aside time for personal reading, deepening his grasp of early and modern authors, English, German, or French, thoroughly enjoying Greek patrology. Concerned with new ideas, adept to assimilate new pedagogy, he was however more respected than loved by his students for whom his erudition, served by an infallible memory, could at times seem inaccessible. On weekends, he did pastoral ministry at the orphanage of the Grey Nuns. Having become in Worcester a real solid teacher, Fr. Jude was named in 1934 to direct the Nîmes College (Gard) supported by an intelligent treasurer, Fr. Delmas, a reputed philosophy teacher, Fr. Isaïe Favier, an energetic dean of discipline, Fr. Gilbert Delesalle, and a trained teaching staff. Very human and moderately austere, he gave the college the look and style of a high class establishment. The only reproaches made were that he monopolized in his room the magazines, never made quick decisions, and absented himself too often for pastoral activities that overloaded him (conferences, preaching retreats, meetings of the Noël movement for which he founded the bulletin Le Lien). He was not able to avoid for the college a draft by the French army in 1939 first of all, then the German army starting in 1942, and finally the ruinous worries of the Liberation groups. By temperament, Fr. Jude always tried to harmonize and reconcile the points of view after having taken the time to inform himself and listen. To those who heard him or his contacts, he seemed to be someone who was calm and even distant; and yet, he vibrated with great sensitivity for anyone who trusted him. He knew how to speak from the heart in the services he gave. Undoubtedly, it was because of that factor that he had a personal influence bathed in esteem, admiration, and friendship in the places and milieus where he lived.

At the heart of responsibilities in the Congregation.

In 1946, he took part in the General Chapter and was elected first assistant and vicar general. As a learned religious who was supple, clear, and nuanced, he was a precious element of the council, having already proven himself as acting assistant to the Paris Provincial. He studied the dossiers carefully, preferring to first listen and spoke only to examine with assurance and a judgment that his confreres appreciated, the various points that were brought up. In 1952, he was not reelected assistant and became assistant Provincial of Paris, while remaining involved in the direction of the Noël as general chaplain in contact with Fr. Marie-Etienne Point and visiting the feminine communities of the Assumption. He advised the direction of the Eaux Vives magazine, taking over from Fr. Point from 1954 to 1957. From 1949 to 1958, he was put in charge of the Assumptionist Probation program, a time of formation, review of life, and recycling for young priests during the summer vacations. In December 1958, Fr. Jude’s health, which never had been very solid, went downhill. He suffered from hypertension and was cared for by the Orant Sisters at Marseilles where he had to interrupt a retreat that he was preaching. February 20, 1959, he was able by taking short trips to return to the provincial house in Paris. At the end of December 1959, he was still able to take part in a meeting for Superiors at Lormoy (Essonne), but he was only a shadow of himself. He had to be hospitalized December 31 at Pasteur where he was treated until January 18, 1960. April 2, 1960, he entered the clinic of the Augustinian Nuns at Santé Street. It was there that he died June 4, 1960. His funeral was celebrated in the chapel of the provincial house at Denfert-Rochereau June 8. He was buried in the tomb of the Assumption in the Parisian cemetery of Montparnasse.

Addenda.

Professor at Assumption College in Worcester (1922-1934).

No matter what the preference, the success, or the length of his apostolate; a religious is at the mercy of a letter of obedience. Fr. Jude leaves Belgium for America... “I am leaving happily; this joy is also tainted with the regret of leaving the work for vocations; and yet, these regrets do not change my deep joy in following the will of God. Pray for the souls awaiting me there. Pray for me: May I not be lacking to any call from God or to the souls that the Lord wants me to sanctify! If possible, write me often...”—It is with these sentiments that Fr. Jude arrived in Worcester in August 1922...

Teacher of the senior class.

... Finally, after more than a year of an interior crisis, his adaptation to America becomes very harmonious. “If the Orient is waiting for me, let it wait! I don’t try to encourage going there or not... Personally, I must admit, my situation this year is fine: some 30 young men between 16 and 20 years old with a dozen vocations... a good group at the confessional who want guidance; an orphanage with some 200 children where I go twice a week...

The years go by. Fr. Jude was totally committed to his students.  Fr. Polyeucte Guissard writes of him: “ A competent teacher, precise in his courses, demanding for the students, he prepares them with care and method for the upper classes. His cold demeanor did not permit all of his disciples to discover the kindness of his heart. He also kept his distance from the students. If we can believe the comments of the alumni, he was more respected than loved. But all recognize that they have profited much from his well prepared courses.”

Philosophy Teacher.

As the years go by, he has gotten closer to teaching subjects that are more attractive to him and more in line with his intellectual capacities. The head of philosophy, Fr. Polyeucte, is called back to Belgium. It is natural for Fr. Jude to take over. But the new philosophy teacher has not been advised beforehand and upon his return from vacations in France, he receives the news. Without doubt, he has studied all of the books of the program at the scholasticate; he also has kept up and perfected his knowledge by readings, discussions, and notes. It is another thing to teach than having the knowledge, especially at the Worcester College having two years of philosophy with both years together for courses.

He has two retreats to Sisters to preach; tasks and travels that cannot be put off; his annual retreat that he doesn’t want to put off to follow; all of this will take up all of his time. And it is thus that “I was responsible not only to teach but to organize a philosophy course as well as one for sociology; I only had some 15 pages ready to be mimeographed when classes opened.”

There is as much work in the second year since the courses are different. “Here I am with 14 hours of class each week for the first semester and 12 the second going from philosophy to pedagogy or the history of economics. All of these courses have no manuals adapted to our students. At the end of the year, I’ll be able to breathe: all will be ready. I’ll only have to update things a bit.” While waiting, he needs to take the time day by day to reflect and read for the subject matter to be taught.

But he is happy to be a philosophy prof. They said that he was born to teach. If he is demanding for himself in the preparation of his classes, he is so also for the students. In sociology, is his doctrine too condensed. There is nothing better to force them to reflect. Was his class too intellectual for them? The next time, he’ll be careful to bring things down to their level. He groups his teaching by themes; he gives them in the form of debates American style. He divides them in sections for tests. And if a student still has problems, he willingly meets him one on one to clarify and encourage him.

How can one explain that he doesn’t follow Cardinal Mercier’s example in the use of the vernacular to better help the students understand Thomism? Fr. Jude seems to say, “No. The traditional language of scholasticism is Latin. He refuses to change... until 1931, when the students call a strike to force the professor to speak French.

This incident only left traces in the archives. All of his former students are unanimous in speaking of the clarity and solidity of his teaching. They speak of his extensive knowledge of Saint Thomas, and especially of the “Summa contra Gentiles’; they are also unanimous to admire his penetrating intelligence, his faithful memory, his persevering work. All are grateful to him.

Other positions—Librarian.

He is librarian for some 5,000 volumes and in charge of circulation, filing, ordering new books. This requires reading many bibliographies.

Dean of Studies.

This job is only given to the wise and knowledgeable pedagogue. The prestige of the College depends on his influence on the staff and the level of studies for the students. A confrere said,” The good Father followed the Laws and the schedule; nobody dared touched them. November 11, 1932, the college students asked for an afternoon off in honor of the Armistice. The strict Dean answered: “Do you think that you have a good reason to ask for this when you never went to war?”...

Fr. Jude had a lot of esteem and affection for the Americans during his whole life. When he spoke of them, it was always with warmth. One day, he was at the train station in Marseilles, waiting to leave for Nîmes. An American military convoy intoned their national hymn. Father Jude, standing at the door of the train sang with them. His train pulled away slowly and he regretted this quick departure that had stopped him from speaking with them.

[a friend]

Oscar (Gabriel-Oscar-Otto) Zoppi

1889-1955

Belgian-Swiss religious from the Province of North America.

A long life.

Gabriel Oscar Otto Zoppi was born November 18, 1889 at Fosses in Belgium of a Swiss father and a Walloon mother. Early in life, he was orphaned and taken in by an aunt before he entered, in September 1903, the Bure alumnate. After three years, he went to Taintegnies, at that time a humanities alumnate (1906-1908). He chose the Assumption and went to the Louvain novitiate where he took the religious habit under the name Brother Oscar August 28, 1908. He was professed annually August 28, 1909 at Gempe and pronounced his perpetual vows August 29, 1910 also at Gempe, a village 15 km from Louvain. Right after his profession, he was sent to Locarno College in Switzerland for three years of studies (1910-1913). In 1914, he was drafted by the Swiss army and chose Belgian nationality. A student at Louvain (1913-1914), he was unable to get back to Belgium because of the war and did his theology at Rome and Fara Sabina (1914-1919). He was ordained to the priesthood there June 14, 1919 by Cardinal Pompili. As an apostolic field, he was assigned to Chile. During four years he enjoyed horseback excursions and witnessed a terrible earthquake. The details that he later gave concerning it show quite a fertile imagination! In March 1923, he left Chile for the U.S.A. He was in fact transferred to the college in Worcester (Massachusetts). After a short initiation period in New York, Worcester became his regular residence until September 1945. At that time he went to work in the Spanish parish at 14th Street in New York. It was there, January 30, 1955, that he was found dead a Sunday morning bathed in his blood. He was only 65. He was buried in Worcester in the company of his deceased confreres of the Province of North America whom he joined in 1946.

A smiling face of unbelievable mobility where his ideas and feelings were reflected, he did not like stability. With him, the gestures always preceded the words. He loved to live in the open air: he needed movement, people, conversation, and activity. He didn’t enjoy studies, long meditations, nor long ceremonies! Willingly exuberant in the community, he didn’t bring sadness. One day when people were surprised by his absence, one of his confreres remarked with malice to the superior who was surprised and tried to get information concerning his whereabouts, ‘Fr. Oscar is in all of his states!’ During his 23 years of service at the college in Worcester, he was a monitor and teacher. His pedagogy did not sin through excess of conformity! Fr. Oscar was involved in all of the college’s musical and theatrical activities. One could quite well summarize his volcanic apostolate by quoting the psalm: ‘The noise of his voice was heard through all the earth’. But one cannot accuse Fr. Oscar of being a light headed or superficial religious. For him, the essence of the Law and the prophets was to love God and one’s neighbor and one can truly say that his apostolic life was measured by his devotedness that made him rush through the streets, assiduous to visiting the sick, devoted to a thousand errands to help someone, run an errand for another, or give information. How many times did he not hurry to guide disconcerted travelers who arrived in the New World by train, ship, or plane, looking for work or a given address? Leaving to pedagogues and theologians the study of a thousand and one mysteries of science or knowledge, Fr. Oscar, in his sermons, spoke with simplicity, presenting with clarity not so much a doctrine but a life, a Gospel attitude that reached the simple of heart. Fr. Oscar lived according to the heart and he who was thought as solid as rock died of a heart attack. In the catastrophe of 1953 [the tornado at Assumption College], he saw the announcing of the end of the world. It was for him a terrible shock. Very weak, he was so affected by it that many could no longer recognize him for the walking shadow that he had become.[ A picture of Fr. Oscar Zoppi by Fr. Polyeucte Guissard.]


Addenda.

Fr. Oscar taught languages, especially Greek, at Assumption College. He was a good student, quite turbulant. He was first in Greek version. It was at Bure that he met Bro. Armand Goffart. Oscar was a ‘factotum’ (Jack-of-all trades). He would kill the pigs, beg for potatoes, smoke cigars. He had typhoid fever at Bure and when the alumnists went home, he stayed at the alumnate. He cleaned the house and burned the straw mattresses with Bro. Armand. Oscar took care of the room of Fr. Marcellin Guyot who had returned from Louisiana.

Oscar’s brother, Albert, became a banker in Brussels and was of a quiet temperament like his father. While in Chile, Fr. Oscar was treasurer at Santiago. Fr. Oscar arrived at the College in Worcester on May 9. He had to learn English and served as a monitor from 1923 to 1926. He then started to teach: French, Latin, Greek, German. Catechism, and history. He played the bass viola with the College orchestra. He would take a pinch of Anchor Brand snuff while discoursing about the loves of the Greek gods and goddesses. It would be too long to deal even briefly with Fr. Oscar’s weekend ministry in numerous New England parishes, so I will only say that he was always ready to go wherever his Superiors sent him and was always welcomed there because he was ready to do whatever needed doing... Fr. Oscar was often called to nearby St. Vincent’s Hospital (New York City) for ministry to the sick. He was a jolly character and would joke with women who were tense before giving birth. They would relax and before you knew it, they had their baby.

Fr. Oscar would go back to Worcester for the annual retreat, and it was thus that he experienced the tornado of 1953. That gave him a severe physical shock, which continued to bother his heart, even after he returned to New York. He lost so much weight that some religious barely recognized him the following December. Fr. Oscar knew that he was a doomed man, but continued to do his work, even as treasurer, until the end.

Twice he had to spend time in the hospital, but he was anxious to go back to his community, because Oscar hated solitude. Fr. Oscar’s lungs kept filling with fluid and in the hospital two and a half liters had been extracted. But it was back in community that Oscar died, victim of angina.. When a brother had brought him his breakfast on the morning of January 30, 1055, he found Fr. Oscar on the floor, his nose broken and much blood having issued from his mouth. It was believed that Father had risen to take some medicine and had had a fatal heart attack.

He was waked in Our Lady of Guadalupe church on February 2 and his funeral was on February 3. Fr. Leopold Braun gave the funeral mass homily in English and Spanish. Monsignor Flanelly, rector of St. Patrick’s cathedral was in attendance. Four religious accompanied the body of Fr. Oscar as he was brought by train to Worcester. On February 4 was held a solemn requiem mass at which Fr. Polyeucte Guissard gave a moving eulogy. Then the body of the happy-go-lucky, hard-working, greathearted priest was brought to the cemetery of the religious in Greendale. [ASITWAS by Fr. Richard Richards, A.A.]

Father Oscar was a man with a great imagination and a tremendous sense of humor. He often spoke of his adventures during his four years in Chile. His 22 years of teaching at Assumption Prep were an adventure for him and for his students. But where he was most successful was in parish work, and especially during his last ten years at Our Lady of Guadalupe, where his legendary hard work literally caused his death. He was buried in the Prep School cemetery in Worcester. (Notes by Fr. Armand Desautels.)



[1] Equivalent to the second year of college in the American system.

[2] Equivalent to the first two years of college in the American system.

[3] The religious anti-Catholic persecution began with the seizure of religious schools (March 1951), the expulsion of the Apostolic Nuncio (1951), the adoption of an ideological policy called the “triple autonomy”: clerical, financial, and spiritual.  The first consecrations of patriotic bishops, chosen without the approval of Rome, took place in April 1958.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2011 09:20
 
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