Born at Gigneville (Vosges), February 12, 1820.
Ordination to the priesthood at Saint-Dié, June 17, 1848.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1852.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 15, 1853. (no. 346)
Died at Notre-Dame de la Garde, Marseilles, February 16, 1866.
Marie-Joseph Chardin was born at Gigneville in the diocese of Saint-Dié on February 12, 1820. After completing his studies at the major seminary of Saint-Dié, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 17, 1848. Turn and turn about, he was assistant priest, chaplain to sisters and professor at the institution of La Trinité at Lamarche. He entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier on August 14, 1852. On May 28, 1853, Father Vincens wrote to Bishop de Mazenod asking what will be done with Father Chardin who “is an excellent man, but without talent and without judgment.” The Founder suggested that Father Vincens make inquiries from the superiors of the major seminary of Saint-Dié stating that “we have not had to correct him even once during his novitiate, that we have come to know him as one who is of solid virtue, regular, obedient, etc., but that we hesitate to admit him to vows because of his limited abilities and of the negative reaction that we feel his admission will occasion in the diocese of Saint-Dié [...] But,” he added, “in order to do this, we have to judge that he is able to do something in the Congregation, even if it were only to hear confessions in one of our houses and to be a mainstay of the Rule.” (Oblate Wrtitings I, vol. 11, no. 1150, p. 137) The superior of the seminary replied that “Mr. Chardin is loved and esteemed in our diocese.” In the July 31, 1853 session report of the General Council in which he was admitted to vows, we read: “This candidate has a prayer life and is suited to religious life, endowed with good qualities and enjoys a solid enough health...”
He made his oblation on August 15, 1853 and was immediately sent to Aix where he lived an exemplary life of regularity and zeal, especially as a confessor. Father Fabre wrote in his obituary: “He spent eleven whole years in this house, engaging successively in all the ministries that our priests carry out, among others as chaplain of the prisons. He dedicated himself to this service with a particular predilection [...] During those eleven years his prayer life, his fervour, his devotion to all his duties never fell short of expectations. Rev. Father Courtès had unbounded confidence in him and he enjoyed relating to our beloved Founder examples of virtue which his prayerful disciple displayed before him every day. Rev. Father Chardin cherished a genuinely filial affection for his superior and enjoyed giving him the most manifest expressions of it and the most moving of which he offered during the long and painful illness which led Father Courtès to the grave...”
In 1858, it was planned to send him to Bordeaux where the community needed a model of prayer and regular observance, but he was left in Aix until autumn of 1864. He then received his obedience for Notre-Dame de la Garde as confessor. In 1865, rheumatism obliged him initially to retire and ultimately it led to his death which occurred on February 16, 1866. His body was laid to rest in the Oblate vault in Aix.
In his obituary we find several testimonies about his prayer life and his fervour, one of which is that of Father Jean Conrard, his confrere at the major seminary of Saint-Dié, as well as the testimonies of Fathers Prosper Boisramé, his confreres at the novitiate, Fathers M. de L’Hermite and François Bellon, his superiors at Aix and Notre-Dame de la Garde. In the Personnel Register of 1862-1863 we read under his name: “priest of average ability, but of an exemplary life and of a very great virtue, doing good in his simplicity. After his oblation, he was sent to Aix where he did a great deal of good.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, 1853; letter from the superior of the seminary at Saint-Dié, June 10, 1853.
“R. P. Joseph Chardin,” circular letter no. 30 from Father Fabre, March 5, 1866 in Notices nécrologiques, vol. I, Paris, 1884, p. 253-272.