Born at Crottes (Hautes-Alpes), October 12, 1823
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, September 24, 1841
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, October 3, 1842 (no.96)
Ordination to the priesthood at Montreal, October 25, 1846
Died at Marseilles, June 23, 1894.
Édouard Chevalier was born October 12, 1823 at Crottes, diocese of Gap, son of Estienne Chevalier, farmer, and Marie-Louise Maurel. He was one of the first students at the juniorate of Notre-Dame de Lumières in 1841. He entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier September 24, 1841 and made his oblation on October 3, 1842. He studied theology at the major seminary of Marseilles from 1843 to 1845. The scholastic brothers usually spent their summer vacations at Lumières. During the summer of 1844, Father Ricard, the superior, “accorded the attribute” to only two of these “Brother Chevalier and to Brother Arnoux, that they were of good behaviour.”
After having received minor orders on June 29, 1845, Brother Chevalier was sent to Canada. He left in August with Fathers Francis Bermond and Michael Molloy. In the spring of 1846, he refused to be ordained to the priesthood. On May 14, 1846, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Bishop Guigues: “If his conscience is in order, there is nothing to hesitate about and all his repugnance should, as I believe you have already intimated to him, yield to obedience when the superior calls.” (Letters to North America, 1841-1850, Oblate Writings I, vol. 1, no. 62, p. 129) Bishop Magloire, Bishop of Walla Walla in Oregon, ordained him to the priesthood in Montreal on October 25, 1846.
Father Chevalier resided at Longueuil from 1845 to 1848 and preached parish retreats. From 1848 to 1851, he was director at the new college of Ottawa. In 1850, Bishop de Mazenod recommended him for the position of master of novices and, in 1851, appointed him procurator of the province. There is little doubt that Father Chevalier never acted in this role because from 1851 to 1862 he was superior in Buffalo. He founded a college which he directed from 1851 to 1855, a seminary (1851-1856) and Holy Angel’s parish whose church he had built from 1856 to 1859. For these works, he purchased a large piece of land with money from the General Administration. On May 28, 1855 Bishop de Mazenod wrote him a letter of rebuke. For three years running, Father Chevalier had requested money in order to buy this property and develop its works. Each time, he declared that henceforth he would no longer need any more help. In 1855, he was nevertheless compelled to close down the college and, in 1858, Bishop de Mazenod had to make him a personal loan of 30,000 francs “to avoid a disaster.”
From 1856 to 1862, after the closing of the college and of the seminary, Father Chevalier preached many missions. In 1859, he travelled to Europe. He was superior and parish priest at Saint Peter’s parish in Plattsburgh, New York from 1862 to 1864. In 1865, Father Fabre called him back to France. We read in Missions O.M.I., 1865 (p. 628) Arrival of “the tireless apostle of Canada and the United States whom, because of his confidence in him, our Most Reverend Father has just called to the scholasticate to take part in the formation of future apostles.” He was professor of moral theology and director at Autun from 1865 to 1867, then at the major seminary at Fréjus from 1867 to 1887.
He spent this last years (1888-1894) at Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseilles. In Missions O..M.I. 1902 (p. 391), we read: “He brought to the house of la Garde his theological knowledge, his long experience and the edification of his piety. He was generous in offering his assistance at the basilica, giving spiritual direction there and for several years was the learned confessor of the religious of the Institute for the deaf-mute.” He died on June 23, 1894. His remains were laid to rest in the Oblates’ vault in Marseilles.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Formula of oblation, October 3, 1842; two letters to Father Tempier (1860), six letters to Bishop de Mazenod (1859-1860) and four to Father Fabre (1853-1862).
Provincial archives of Montreal, personal dossier.
CARRIÈRE, Gaston, o.m.i., “Édouard Chevalier” in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, vol. I, Ottawa, 1976, p. 196.