Born at Arvieux (Hautes-Alpes), January 30, 1810
Taking of the habit at Saint-Just, May 1, 1830.
Oblation in Marseilles, May 1, 1831 (no. 46)
Ordination to the priesthood in Marseilles, April 6, 1833
Expulsion, December 4, 1833
Died in Recoubeau, diocese of Valence, June 8, 1862.
Jacques Eymar was born at Arvieux, diocese of Gap, January 30, 1810. He began his novitiate at Saint-Just, May 1, 1830 and ended his year of novitiate May 1, 1831. May 7, the Founder wrote Father Mille: “It is on May 1 that Eymar made his offering to the Lord. I am very pleased with him and I hope that he will attain the level of our dear Billens people without difficulty. He will need to apply himself to studies. He will begin to read holy scripture in the original, so be warned that you will have a Hebrew scholar in your academy.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 390, p. 24)
On June 6, Father de Mazenod announced to Father Mille that he has just sent off to Billens Brothers Eymar and Azan; thus they will join the other scholastic brothers sent to Switzerland after the 1830 July Revolution. He added that Eymar: “has little experience of obedience and there are grounds for fearing that he was inclined to be obstinate. I am afraid that he lacks that equanimity of character which is such an asset in social intercourse, insistence much be laid on his practising self-renunciation and holy detachment, the pivot of religious life. He needs to lay a real foundation for his studies, examine him carefully on this point; whatever the price, the gaps have to be filled up in an education that has been interrupted several times and which must have suffered a lot from this alternation of good and bad influences.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 393, p. 27)
At the beginning of 1833, Brother Eymar returned to Marseilles with the other scholastic brothers and was ordained to the priesthood on April 6 by Bishop Eugene de Mazenod. While staying at Le Calvaire, he continued his theological studies at the major seminary. In the Oblate report of April 20, 1834, Father Casimir Aubert wrote: “As for Father Eymar, it is difficult to say what progress he has made, everything is so confused in his regard that we can hardly sort out anything. I believe him to be fundamentally good and sufficiently well disposed toward his duties, but there is something idiosyncratic in his character that it would not be easy to correct and his tastes and his ways of acting are entirely out of the ordinary.”
This judgment seems to have captured with total accuracy the character of this young priest: good, but idiosyncratic. After his ordination, he no longer wanted to study. He was sent to Aix where he distinguished himself by his idiosyncrasies, did little ministry, spent his time in the parlour with pious women. Father Courtès did not want to have him around. The Superior General sent him to Le Calvaire. There, the young priest shared less and less in community life; he heard a few confessions and spent most of his life on the street. Towards the end of 1836, the superior of Le Calvaire learned that Father Eymar had requested a dispensation from his vows from Rome. Consequently, on December 4, the Founder summoned his council. They unanimously decided to expel him. “His odd character, his peculiar personality... make him unbearable in the community and... put him in the position to compromise the honour of the Congregation in circles outside the community.”
After his departure, Abbé Eymar remained in Aix for some time. (Eugene de Mazenod Diary, January 11, 1837) In an article which appeared in the review Études, Father Paul Dudon, S.J., said that “the unfortunate plight of his family compelled him to leave the Order [the Oblates] to become a parish priest. After some time, he joined the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament in Paris, but did not remain in their congregation. He wanted to go to the foreign missions. The Curé of Ars advised him to go to the diocese of Valence which was short of priests. He went there and, in 1859, was appointed parish priest at Barnave in an area where the majority of the people were Hugenots. That is where he organized the Mission of Diois. This project had as its goal to build churches, establish schools and win back to the Catholic faith the parishes which had become predominantly Protestant.” He died in Recoubeau June 8, 1862. Some priest friends and co-workers continued his work.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
His dossier at the Oblate General Archives in Rome contains only his oblation formula.
The Registry of expulsions and dispensations, pp. 47-50.
DUDON, Paul, S.J., “L’apostolat catholique dans la Drôme. La mission du Diois (1859-1928)”, in Études, vol. 198 (1929), pp. 63-73, 195-207.