Born at Marseilles (Bouches-du-Rhône), August 12, 1828
Taking of the habit at Notre Dame de l’Osier, December 7, 1849
Oblation at Notre Dame de l’Osier, December 8, 1850 (no. 296)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, June 25, 1854
Died at Paris, July 29, 1898.
Marc Antoine Sardou was born in Marseilles on August 12, 1828. For some time he worked in commercial trading and, on December 7, 1849, he entered the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier where he made his oblation on December 8, 1850. Father Santoni, master of novices, presented him for vows in these words: “Above average talent; he will make a good preacher; sound judgment; good character, though a bit frivolous, but even in this regard he has changed a lot. Good conduct and especially much better than it was at the beginning; he is one of the novices who has shown the most progress under every aspect; average prayer life, but even so I believe he is solid enough when it comes to virtue and especially he is on the way to becoming more virtuous.” After four years of philosophy and of theology at the major seminary of Marseilles, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on June 25, 1854.
Professor and Mission Preacher (1854-1863)
Father Sardou’s first obedience on September 12, 1854, took him to the post of professor of philosophy and treasurer at the new scholasticate of Montolivet in Marseilles where, in 1856, they assigned to him the teaching of Sacred Scripture and of sermon composition. From 1858 to 1861, he lived at Le Calvaire and preached retreats and missions. In 1898, Father Devès wrote: “From his initial campaigns in the apostolate, Father Sardou revealed himself to be an energetic missionary, animated by a fine spirit, fiery of speech, supported by a voice that was full, resounding and musical.” His entire life long, he always preached some religious retreats. From 1861 to 1863, Father Sardou went back to teaching Sacred Scripture and sermon composition, but continued to preach very often.
Treasurer General (1863-1898)
At the General Chapter of 1861, Father Alexandre Soulerin was elected treasurer general. He was not Father Tempier’s candidate. In 1863, Father Tempier seized the opportunity of Father Courtès being ill and of Father Vincens being on a long trip to Canada, both of whom were assistants general, to put forward the appointing of Father Soulerin as assistant general and to replace him in the treasurer’s position with Father Sardou. In the report of the April 29, 1863 session of the General Council it is stated that the Council “unanimously adopted all the more readily the opinion of Reverend Father Tempier in that it is well known that Father Sardou is endowed with exceptional talents to carry out the responsibilities of procurator general.”
From that time on, Father Sardou took up residence in Paris, but also made frequent brief trips to visit Oblate houses in France and even in Rome and England. He was re-elected as treasurer general in the Chapters of 1867, 1873, 1879, 1887, 1893 and 1898. Upon his death in 1898, Father Cassien Augier, the superior general, wrote that Father Sardou’s career “can be summed up in one word: he was exemplary as treasurer. For thirty-five years responsible for the material interests of the Congregation, he brought to his work a dedication, a wisdom, a prudence, a skill that was truly rare and which rendered to his religious family services that beggar expression. Thanks to his spirit of order and his business acumen, our financial situation, somewhat muddled and unstable when he took over the position of treasurer, slowly cleared up, found firm footing and, while some other congregations were suffering the backlash of political upheavals, Reverend Father Sardou was able to maintain intact the deposit that had been entrusted to him. His common sense, a kind of natural instinct he possessed, in spite of fads and trends, always held him aloof from ill-starred ventures which other people did not have the wisdom to avoid.”
Religious Life – Death
Material administration never usurped first place in his life. He always remained a good religious and a zealous missionary, carefully preparing his sermons and his retreats. At the General Chapter of 1898, the writer in Missions O.M.I. wrote: “…re-elected, treasurer general, Reverend Father Sardou, who for 35 years in hazardous contact with gold, has practiced in marvellous fashion the law of Gospel detachment.”
After a few months of illness, he died in Paris on July 29, 1898. His body was laid to rest in the vault of the Oblates in the cemetery at Montmartre.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome: Manuscripts: preaching, 1855-1896, 3 vols. (about 1700 pages); various notes, 1891-1897, 67 pages; Persons: 19 dossiers: oblation formula, December 8, 1850, retreat notes (1850, 1853, 1865), will; 26 letters from family members; 60 letters to various Oblates; 20 letters to Bishop Allard, 26 to Father Cassien Augier, 432 letters to Father Fabre, 105 letters to Bishop Faraud, 13 to Bishop Joulain, 10 to Father Rey, 12 to Father A. Schoch, 86 to Father Soullier, 5 to Bishop Taché, 62 to Father Tatin.
“Le père Sardou” circular letter no. 68 by Father Cassien Augier, August 5, 1898 in Circulaires administratives, vol. 2, Paris, 1886-1900, p. 337-339.
DEVÈS, M., o.m.i., “Le R. P. Sardou” in L’Univers, July 31, 1898 and in Missions O.M.I., (1898), p. 351-354)