Born at Collongues (Var), January 1, 1834.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 1, 1854.
Oblation at Montolivet, July 2, 1855. (no. 392)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, April 11, 1857.
Died at Naples, August 18, 1919.
Célestin Augier, son of Jeanne Filippi and André Augier was born at Collongues, diocese of Fréjus, January 1, 1834. He studied at the minor seminary of Grasse, then took a few years of philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Fréjus before beginning his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 1, 1854. He made his oblation at Montolivet on July 2, 1855. He was admitted to vows in the General Council session of May 25. In the report of this session, the secretary wrote: “Reverend Father Lagier [director of the major seminary of Fréjus] in sending Célestin Augier to us last year gave him a most flattering letter of recommendation in which he stated that this young man was certainly one of the best students at the major seminary both as to his prayer life and his talent. The knowledge we have gain about him during his novitiate has fully confirmed this commendation. During the rest of the trial year that we allowed him to spent at Montolivet because his health suffered too much from the climate in the Dauphiné, Brother Augier has constantly showed himself to be exemplary in his regular observance, of a good character, an exceptional prayer life, and an outstanding talent, along with a rare modesty...”
He continued his theological studies at Montolivet from 1855 to 1857. In his reports as moderator of scholastics, Father Mouchette always judged him in a favourable light: “excellent for everything, tireless in working at his perfecting, very united to God..., filled with zeal and activity.” At the beginning of 1857, Brother Augier fell ill and Bishop de Mazenod, in his concern, decided to ordain him to the priesthood on April 11, a few months before the end of the school year. He wrote to Father Mouchette on March 22, 1857: “I was deeply pained when I learned about the alarming state of our good and dear Brother Augier’s health. Do not delay consulting what should be done to keep this excellent man for the Congregation and the Church. Oh, if it were only a matter of giving him my blood, I would immediately present both my arms to the lancet. I long to elevate this dear child to the priesthood. If necessary, prepare him for me for Holy Saturday.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 12, no. 1345, p. 49)
Great were the expectations of the talents and the virtues of Brother Célestin Augier. These expectations were not disappointed. During his long life, Father Célestin preached a great deal and filled important posts. In 1903, he wrote up his own curriculum vitae to which he added a few of his recollections concerning some important events:
“1854-1857: Notre-Dame de l’Osier and the scholasticate at Montolivet: Feast of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception at Marseilles; visits from the Founder; the General Chapter; consecration of Bishop Semeria.
1857-1860: With Mr. Allemand’s Youth in Marseilles that had been entrusted to the Oblates; consecration of Bishop Grandin.
1860-1862: Director of the minor seminary re-established at Notre-Dame de Lumières.
1862-1864: Professor of moral theology at the scholasticate at Autun, transferred there from Montolivet.
1864-1867: Mission preacher at Marseilles; Notre-Dame de la Garde and Le Calvaire.
1867-1872: Superior at Aix.
1872-1877: Superior at Le Calvaire, Marseilles.
1877-1883: Provincial of Midi: Vocations work and missions free of charge; extension of the ministerial work in the Midi; General Chapter held at Autun; beginning of works in Spain; negotiations for a foundation in Lyon; first expulsions; founding of a house in Turin; beginnings of works in Italy.
1883-1886: Superior at Aix for the second time.
1886-1887: At Notre-Dame de la Garde; General Chapter in Rome.
1887-1891: Provincial in Canada; reconstruction of the house and the church at Hull; house at Témiscamingue; church of the Sacred Heart in Ottawa; establishment at Lac St-Jean; Catholic university of Ottawa; the Paradis affair.
1891-1897: Provincial of Midi for the second time: house of Notre-Dame de Soto in Spain; construction of the house in Lyon; house in Nice; juniorate in Rome; major seminary in Beneventum.
1897-1899: Superior of Le Calvaire for the second time.
1899-1903: At Sacred Heart in Montmartre; expulsion from Marseilles; General Chapter at Liège.
After 1903, the name of Father Célestin rarely appears in Missions O.M..I., and we do not know exactly where he was living since, for some twenty years following the expulsions, the names of the Oblates of France are not found in the Personnels. He usually worked in the Midi of France before retiring to the juniorate of Santa Maria a Vico near Naples from 1912 to 1919.
Father Célestin was especially a superior and an administrator. In this capacity, he took part in the chapters of 1879 (provincial of Midi), 1887 (delegate of Bishop Faraud of Mackenzie), 1893 (provincial of Midi) and from 1904 (by personal invitation). In 1889, he represented Bishop Louis D’Herbomez, vicar apostolic for British Columbia at the council of the province of Saint Boniface, Manitoba.
Father Augier also preached a lot of parish missions and retreats, especially to Oblates and diocesan clergy. The main ones are mentioned in the review Missions O.M.I. (See Tables analytiques ). He wrote a few works and articles (See BERNAD, Bibliographie des Missionnaires O.M.I., Liège, 1922, p. 13-14), in particular, Le radicalisme et l’Église, Paris-Marseille, 1886-1887, 16 p., Les deux radicalismes, Paris-Marseilles, 1886, 16 p.; Les Oblats de M.I. devant le tribunal correctionnel de Marseille, Paris, 1903, 64 p.; the obituaries of Fathers de Saboulin (Notices nécrologiques O.M.I., vol. II, 201-211) and Gourdon (ibidem, vol. VII, p. 322-339).
Nothing has been written about Father Célestin Augier except for a short article by Father Edmond Thiriet who lived with him while he was at Montmartre. Among other things, Father Thiriet says: “Reverend Father Augier was an outstanding individual. He was endowed with qualities that commanded admiration and respect. Appointed to the most imporant positions of power: superior at Aix, the cradle of the Congregation, to Le Calvaire, the first Oblate house in Marseilles, to which was attached ministry to the Italian community established by Bishop de Mazenod; provincial in France and in Canada. Everywhere obedience sent him, either in North Africa or North America, on the banks of the Saint Lawrence or on the Pacific Coast, in Belgium, in Spain or in Italy, at a council of the province of Saint Boniface or at the university of Ottawa, he was known as an honest man, loyal, energetic, with perhaps the straightforwardness of the soldier in whom neither his deeds, his actions or his words are lacking in sincerity. An upright spirit who abhorred hypocrisy and boldly showed himself to be the indomitable champion of the truth and of justice. [...] Reverend Father Célestin Augier was, above all, a man of God. His external appearance of severity masked a heart filled with divine charity. Strict with himself, he was moved by a deep pity and a tender compassion for the poor, the wretched, sinners...”
During the last years of his life, Father Célestin lived at Santa Maria a Vico or at Naples, with his brother, Cassien Augier, who was superior general from 1898 to 1906. His life was suddenly cut short by an attack of bronchitis on August 18, 1919 at the age of 85.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. 22 dossiers: Oblation formula, July 2, 1855, speeches, various other documents; 24 letters to various Oblates (A-Z), 46 letters to unidentified parties, 61 documents related to his will, 36 letters to Father Antoine, 99 to Father Cassien Augier, 2 to Father Edmond Dubois, 146 to Father Joseph Fabre, 7 to Father Augustin Lavillardière, 14 to Father Marc Sardou, 31 to Father Louis Soullier and 65 to Father Charles Tatin.
THIRIET, Edmond, o.m.i., “Le R. P. Célestin Augier” in La Bonne Nouvelle, Paris, 12 (1919), p. 337-341; article reprinted in Les Cloches de Saint-Boniface, 18 (1919), p. 285-287).