Nicolas-Marie Sergent was born in Corbigny (Nièvre) on May 12, 1802. After completing his seminary studies at Nevers and receiving priestly ordination, he was a professor, then superior of the minor seminary of Corbigny, parish priest of Brinon, vicar general of Nevers in 1852. Appointed bishop of Quimper on February 6, 1855, he received official recognition from Rome on March 23 of that year. He died at Moulin on the night of July 25 to 26, 1871.
Bishop de Mazenod met him in Paris in the summer of 1856 and accepted to send him two priests as superior and director of his major seminary. By common agreement, it was decided that the Founder would conduct other priests to Quimper in 1857 and that the Oblates should take over direction of the seminary. He was very disappointed in August of 1857 when Bishop Sergent told him that he had dropped the idea of entrusting the direction of his seminary to the Oblates. (see Quimper, major seminary) He would consider this about-face on the part of the bishop to be a great humiliation and a serious wrong inflicted on the Congregation. In an August 17, 1857 letter to Father Jean Lagier, he wrote: “What can one pit against such a shocking denial of justice, an arbitrary act of a legitimate authority that abuses its power to defy all the laws of equity and justice? […] I would never have believed that a bishop could err to such a degree. Nothing in this world can surprise me anymore. In default of human justice, I appeal to the sovereign justice of God, while at the same time asking him to forgive the person who is crushing us as well as those who have urged him to this iniquity.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 12, no. 1356, p. 63)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate Writings I, vol. 12 and 13 passim.
BAUNARD, Mgr, L’épiscopat français…, 1802-1905, Paris, p. 494-495.