Born at Marseilles, May 18, 1826
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 5, 1843
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 16, 1844 (no. 126)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, June 24, 1849
Dispensed from his vows, August 1862.
Pierre Jacques Fortuné Chavard was born at Marseilles on May 18, 1826. He entered the juniorate at Notre-Dame de Lumières in 1841. He began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on July 5, 1843 where he made his oblation on July 16, 1844. he studied philosophy and theology at the major seminary of Marseilles from 1844 to 1849.
On October 15, 1847, the members of the General Council decided to dismiss him because, for a year already, “in spite of all the warnings given him in various ways, Brother Chavard is entirely derelict in his duties and must be considered incorrigible.” In addition to that, while he was vacationing at Notre-Dame de Lumières, he was guilty of the “most serious offence... to the scandal of the entire community, of entering the room and locking the door of Brother Depetro, etc.” Brother Chavard was floored by this decision. He explained that he closed himself in Brother Depetro’s room because a junior was constantly coming to pester them, but that except for this external breach of the rules, their conduct was beyond reproach. He subsequently displayed such a deep repentance and made so many promises for the future that, in the November 5 session, the General Council suspended the sentence of expulsion and rendered the decision that “this Oblate would go to spend six months at the novitiate of l’Osier and it would only be after he had passed this trial in a most satisfactory manner that he would have his rights restored to him.”
Brother Chavard then finished his scholasticate years in regular fashion and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on June 24, 1849. He subsequently exercised his priestly ministry, especially preaching, while being in residence at Notre-Dame de Lumières from 1849 to 1852, at Notre-Dame de Bon Secours in 1853, at Romans from 1854 to 1857, at Limoges from 1858 to 1860, then at Le Calvaire in Marseilles from 1861 to 1862. He seemed to be happy at Lumières. He “had trouble adjusting to life at Bon Secours and began to give signs of discontentment.” However, Father Martin, the superior wrote to Father Aubert on September 4, 1853 that Father Chavard was “basically a good-natured youngster, easy to direct, especially if one was careful to butter him up a little.” At Romans, Father Charles Bellon, the superior, complained of the “imperfections” of this priest.
On July 18, 1862, he received his obedience for Nancy. He refused to leave Marseilles and asked Father Fabre for a dispensation from his vows because community life had always been a burden for him and his health made preaching and the missionary life an onerous task. After a retreat at Montolivet, he confirmed his decision and wrote on August 4: “Never, in any previous circumstances [harsh measures taken against the Oblates by Bishop Cruice, Bishop of Marseilles] did I ever feel so keenly how very attached I was to this congregation who brought me up and from which I must withdraw since for some years already it has ceased being for me an avenue leading to salvation. The annoyances that I had to endure in its midst, annoyances which ended up sapping all the energy of my will, will never lead me to forget the considerable debt of gratitude I owe the congregation. If God would deign to give my feeble prayers a favourable hearing, I will ask him to bless this congregation, to make it grow and prosper in the wake of these days of grievous trials and not to abandon the one who was the most misunderstood of her children...” During the month of August, Father Fabre dispensed him from his vows in the Congregation. (Letter to Father A. Rey, August 6, 1862.)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 16, 1844; 9 letters to the Founder (1849-1851), 7 letters to Father Casimir Aubert (1854-1860) and 3 letters to Father Fabre (1862).