Born at Cucuron in the diocese of Avignon, August 14, 1806.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, September 5, 1842.
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, September 8, 1843. (no. 112)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, June 30, 1844.
Died at Angers, June 7, 1886.
Cyr Marius Chauvet was born at Cucuron (Vaucluse) on August 14, 1806. He entered the novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on September 5, 1842 and made his oblation on September 8, 1843. Before the end of his novitiate, his parish priest and Bishop Paul Naudo, archbishop of Avignon, sought to dissuade him from joining the Oblates. He was already advanced in age, a cleric and educator in Avignon. As well, he was wealthy and it was thought that “[his wealth] could be very usefully employed in the works of the diocese.”
In the course of the year of theology which he spent at the major seminary in Marseilles, Bishop Naudo sent him the necessary documents for his ordination to the priesthood which was celebrated on June 30, 1844. He was immediately appointed to serve as a professor at the minor seminary of Notre-Dame de Lumières, and then spent the 1845-1846 school year as professor of Sacred Scripture and treasurer at the major seminary of Marseilles. At the same time, he was chaplain of the Sisters of Saint Charles. From 1846 to 1850, he taught moral theology and eloquence at the major seminary at Ajaccio. In October of 1845, the Founder had already heralded his coming to Father Noël Moreau alerting him to the high strung temperament of the future professor. “I believe that there is a good chance of convincing him. First of all, he must be told that which you see as proper and good. Only you must mix kindness with firmness; he is very high strung, so surprises should be avoided lest he will have to reproach himself for motus primo primi. This young man has much talent, which must be put to use. I told him that you would put him in charge of a class in eloquence, and that is what you should do. In that way you will please the Bishop who dreams only of that, and you will give the students the benefit of his quick mind. He has good will, asks only that he be given something to do, but must be given a bit of latitude.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 10, no. 884, p. 113)
Father J. J. Magnan, superior of the seminary at Ajaccio after the death of Father Moreau in February of 1846, speaks often of Father Chauvet in his many letters to the Founder. In a December 14, 1846 letter, he judges him a good professor although he has “rapid-fire” speech. He adds: “This priest is good hearted, regular in his observance of the house rules, a bit brusque, but he does not have as many occasions as at Marseilles to display his brusqueness since he does not have to deal with economic matters here.”
Father Chauvet was a source of much suffering for his superior and his confreres. “Intemperate in spirit, he is a censor who shows little leniency for the young priests, Fathers Pierre Palle and Ferdinand Gondrand whom he succeeded in having recalled to Marseilles. In the house council, he always has to be right. He has to have first place in everything. He is more my superior than I am his,” Father Magnan wrote in a December 18, 1848 letter. “Entrenched in his habits of lording it over children, he maintains the manner of speaking, the attitudes and the dogmatic pedantic style of grade school teachers. He is continually waving the cane.”
At the beginning of the month of April, 1850, Father Chauvet, at odds with all the priests of the seminary community, took leave of the house without permission and left for Marseilles. A storm obliged the captain of the ship to return to port. Father Chauvet went back to the Oblate community and the superior wrote the following comment on this event: “We all regretted the fact that the storm drove him back to our shores.” On April 21, in a letter to the seminary treasurer, Father Jerome Pont, Bishop de Mazenod expressed his profound grief at what had transpired. “There are some scandals we should not have to be exposed to. Only someone who closed his mind to the first notions of religious principles could permit himself such pranks. I had, it is true, resolved on the recall of this Father, but to take the matter into this own hands and leave his post of his own accord against my wishes is such an extravagance that I am still unable to convince myself that it really happened. I hope that this will be an example for you, my dear friends, and confirm you ever more strongly in the duties of your vocation: that is the proper reaction when confronted by evils of this magnitude. As we deplore another’s fall, we are led to reflect on ourselves and promise that we will never put ourselves in the way of a similar fault but rather work in an effective way to grow in the perfection of our holy state.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1042, p. 10)
In 1851, the Oblates accepted the direction of the major seminary of Fréjus. Father Cyr Chauvet was appointed professor of Sacred Scripture, treasurer and first admonitor of Father J. J. Lagier during his first tenure as superior from 1851 to 1856. He spent the summer of 1852 at Aix. In sending him there, in a June 30 letter to Father Courtès, the Founder wrote: “Even while taking a rest from his professorial duties, he wants to give himself to the ministry of the Word and overcome his natural timidity. You will soon perceive that Father Chauvet is talented and you will assist him with your wise advice while putting him to work as much as he wants.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1843-1849, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1106, p. 86)
Father Chauvet’s disposition did not change at Fréjus. He continued to be a source of suffering for his superior whose correspondence, however, is no longer extant. Father Adolphe Tortel, a professor at that seminary, did write in a January 10, 1854 letter to Bishop de Mazenod: “Father Chauvet has just written a long letter of apology for all the harassment of the past. It seems there is really no mistake here. It is a case of mea culpa from beginning to end. He finds no other description for his past conduct than stating that he is the skeleton of what a religious should be. I cannot tell you how much the people here have been edified by it.”
On the occasion of the re-opening of the juniorate of Lumières in 1859, Father Chauvet was sent there as professor, where, according to the personnel book, in 1862 he was still present. Subsequently, we have little knowledge of him. His name sometimes appears in Missions O.M.I. It seems that after 1862, Father Chauvet left teaching to take on pastoral work. He was a member of the community of Notre-Dame de la Garde in 1864, of Angers in 1868, of Paris and Royaumont in 1870-1872, of Tours in 1881 of Talence in 1882, then again of Tours. He spent the last months of his life at Angers where he died at 80 years of age on June 5, 1886.
Father Marius Roux, superior of the house at Angers at this time, wrote that nine months earlier, Father Chauvet arrived there “paralysed and in pain.” He felt very badly that he could no longer celebrate Holy Mass or recite the breviary [...] With touching regularity, he attended all the community exercises, from oraison in the morning to evening prayer. His relationships with his confreres were cordial. Even though he was very high strung in character and a son of the south to the core, he yet knew how to remain calm and recreation periods allowed him to display all his charm. When he forgot himself by being too brusque in a reaction that could be construed as being impatience, he would immediately begin to smile, and out loud asked God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of the one he thought his conduct may have given bad example. He delighted in the study of Sacred Scripture which he read at length. He was happiest when he could spend long periods of time in chapel in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and his thanksgiving time after communion would last indefinitely.” He was laid to rest in the Oblate vault in the cemetery of Anger. (Missions O.M.I., 1886, p. 390-391)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Two letters to Bishop de Mazenod (1843) and four to Father Tempier (1844-1847). A bundle of papers belonging to Father Tempier dealing with the temporal affairs of Father Chauvet.