Born at Aurignac (Haute-Garonne), September 19, 1831.
Ordination to the priesthood at Toulouse, December 29, 1854.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, October 31, 1857.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, November 1, 1858. (no. 465)
Left the Congregation June 1878.
Pierre Bonnemaison was born at Aurignac in the diocese of Toulouse, September 19, 1831. He received the priestly anointing at Toulouse on December 29, 1854 and worked as an assistant priest in the diocese. He entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier at 27 years of age on October 31, 1857 and made his oblation there on November 1, 1858. When he welcomed him into the novitiate, Father Vandenberghe wrote in his notes: “This is a vocation which was formed long ago; he is very determined. He is a capable person and has a prayer life; he has a cheerful disposition.” Thereafter, each month the novice master always stressed his “good will” and this “good dispositions,” but discovers several faults: “an innate tendency to vanity, full of himself”; “very imperfect especially in regard to his self-complacency”; “frivolous spirit and a bit flightly”; “restless spirit, weak, fickle, little punctuality”; “does not much like work.” Nevertheless, he presented him for vows and the priest is admitted to vows in the October 24, 1858 session of the General Council in spite of the unfavorable comments in his regard.
According to the Personnel Register of 1862-1863, there was appreciation of his “speech, very simple, but unctuous and persuasive. Initially a mission preacher at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, his contacts outside the community were too extensive. In November of 1861, he was sent to Cléry.
He remained at Notre-Dame de Cléry until the end of 1865 and preached many missions, often listed in the review Missions O.M.I. In November of 1865, he received his obedience for Texas and left with Father Augustin Gaudet and a few young priests. He worked in Brownsville for three years. On May 6, 1869, Father Gaudet begged Father Fabre to recall as soon as possible Father Bonnemaison back to France. Within the Oblate community he does not attend exercises; he spends his time sleeping and disturbs his confreres. While preaching missions, he conduct is untenable and he seeds division in the rancho through his gossiping. In addition to that, he has “fallen head over heels in love with a certain person”; this is common knowledge and people are scandalized.
Upon his return to France, he seemed to have been assigned to the house at Angers. In a January 1875 letter, he says that he is coming to Tours from Angers, but, shortly after, he is sent to Saint-Jean of Autun as chaplain to a barracks. In the General Council session of May 20, 1878, it is pointed out that “Father Bonnemaison’s conduct has been denounced as being scandalous. This priest,” they write, “will be called on the carpet to explain his conduct and then we will see what course of action will need to be taken.” On May 24, the decision was taken to sent him to Notre-Dame de Sion deprived of his faculties. In the General Council’s report of June 14, the secretary wrote: “Father Bonnemaison brought upon his head what he deserved. Instead of accepting his transfer, he withdrew to his home without the benefit of legal procedure. He is to be pitied, but the Congregation suffers no loss at his departure.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, Notre-Dame de l’Osier, November 1, 1858; one letter from Father Bonnemaison to Father Rey, Brownsville, January 9, 1866 and one letter to X, Tours, January 8, 1875; one letter from Father Gaudet to Father Fabre, Brownsville, May 6, 1869.