Born at Vogué (Ardêche), May 23, 1837.
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier September 21, 1858.
Oblation at Montolivet, May 27, 1860 (no. 509)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, July 14, 1861.
Died at Arcachon, June 16, 1912.
Firmin Ozil was born at Vogué in the diocese of Viviers on May 23, 1837. After one year of theological studies at the major seminary of Viviers, he began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on September 21, 1858. Father Vandenberghe, the master of novices, initially found him to be lacking in formation, shy, lacking in generosity and of doubtful abilities. Soon, however, he recognized in this novice “a ready virtue, an upright heart, an innocent character,” humility and docility.
The novice arrived at Montolivet in September of 1859. Father Mouchette, the moderator of scholastics, always considered him “an excellent religious, brimming with virtues, a prayer life, docility and zeal, without guile.” He made his oblation on May 27, 1860 before Bishop de Mazenod and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Jacques Jeancard, on July 14, 1861.
After his ordination, Father Ozil took up residence at Le Calvaire and took care of the spiritual needs of the orphans of Nazareth. In 1862, he lived at Notre-Dame de la Garde and saw to the spiritual needs of the young blind people, a work founded by Father Dassy. It is subsequently difficult to know exactly what obediences this priest had. We have few letters from him and the review Missions OMI rarely mentions his name. He was a missionary in Angers from 1865-1868, at Talence in 1874 and, following that, almost always either assistant priest or parish priest at Arcachon, except for a few years at Saint-Andelain in 1890-1893, at Autun in 1893-1894 and at St. Thomas in Jersey in 1895. In 1890, a few parishioners from Arcachon lodged complaints about the ministry of the Oblates and of Father Ozil, the parish priest, whom Father Fabre sent to Saint-Andelain. Hundreds of the parishioners subsequently signed petitions to asked to have their pastor restored to them. In the January 24 petition, we read this: “This very day we have learned of the departure from Arcachon of Father Ozil, the priest of Notre-Dame church. We, the undersigned, attest to the outstanding services that this excellent priest was providing to all the parishioners and especially to the poor, that he among all the clergy especially knew and that he alone visited. We give witness to the universal sorrow that these unfortunate people experience because of this hasty departure and for which we had no warning, we ourselves are experiencing great distress at this change which is depriving us of an excellent friend and a peerless counsellor, and it is our thinking that the underlying reason that motivated the removal of Father Ozil has not taken into consideration the immense void that his departure would leave at the bedside of our sick people and of the unfortunate, we come to beg you to be so kind as to bring him back to Arcachon, a place from which you should never have removed him if you had any inkling of the deep love that his prayer life, his goodness and his so open and candid personality had won for him...”
After a few years, Father Ozil returned to Arcachon where he died on June 16, 1912.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome: Oblation formula, May 27, 1860; twelve letters to Father Fabre (1865-1890); a few petitions of the parishioners of Arcachon to Father Fabre in 1890.