Born at Grenoble (Isère), August 30, 1825
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, October 7, 1846
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, October 10, 1847 (no. 178)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, September 23, 1848
Died at Dinant, Belgium, March 11, 1909.
Alexandre Soulerin was born in Grenoble on August 30, 1825. son of Étiennette Meunier and Auguste Soulerin. He pursued
his secondary studies to the master’s level at the minor
seminary of Rondeau. He then entered the major seminary of Grenoble. On August 7, 1846, he took the habit at the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier where he made his oblation
on October 10, 1847. After a year of theological studies at the major seminary in Marseilles, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on September 23, 1848.
Initially destined for Oregon, he first spent the 1848-1849 academic year with Father Charles Bellon at the novitiate and the scholasticate of Saint Mary’s Monastery near Everingham, England. He then left for Canada, took up residence at Saint-Pierre-Apôtre in Montreal, spent several months in Galveston, Texas where, without the required permissions, Father Telmon had brought him, and returned to Montreal in 1850-1851. He then worked at Holy Angels in Buffalo, New York, from 1851-1855, at the parish of Saint-Pierre in Plattsburg in 1855-1856, then was given the post of professor at the college and major seminary of Ottawa from 1856 to 1862.
Although he was not present at the General Chapter of December 1861, he was elected Treasurer General. At the General Council session of April 29, 1862, Father Tempier suggested that the task of Treasurer General be confided to Father Marc Sardou who was better prepared for the job and to appoint Father Soulerin as fifth assistant, a position not foreseen in the Rules, but which the Council deemed necessary because Father Joseph Fabre, Superior General, would be in England for a few months, Father Ambroise Vincens, the second assistant would be absent for a year conducting a canonical visit of the Oblates in Canada and Father Hippolyte Courtès, the third assistant who was advanced in age and ailing, was not attending Council meetings since the General Administration had been transferred to Paris. This initiative soon proved to be providential since Father Courtès died June 3, 1863 and Father Vincens was drowned at Maniwaki in Canada during August of the same year.
Father Soulerin resided in Paris from 1862 to 1867. It is thanks to his copious correspondence with Father Fabre that we learn many interesting details on Father Tempier as an old man. In the General Chapter of 1867, Father Soulerin was not re-elected as assistant. From 1867 to 1870, he was professor at the scholasticate of Autun; he was professor and superior of the minor seminary of Notre-Dame de Lumières from 1870 to 1883 and then followed the minor seminarians to Diano Marina, Italy in 1883-1884, to Notre-Dame de l’Osier in 1884-1887, and once again at Notre-Dame de Lumières from 1887 to 1890. He remained in the general house in Paris from 1890 until 1904 when the Oblates were expelled. During his first stay at Notre-Dame de Lumières, he wrote a work entitled, Pèlerinage de Notre-Dame de Lumières, Avignon, 1876, 142 pages. In Paris after 1890, he published three works: Juniorats de la congrégation des Missionnaires Oblats de M.I., Directoire des maîtres, Directoire des élèves, Tours, 1891, 148 pages; Le R.P. Amorès y Carbonell, missionnaire Oblat de M.I., Bar-le-Duc, 1894, 96 pages and Le p. Laverlochère, missionnaire Oblat de M. I., apôtre de la Baie d’Hudson, Paris, 1895, 284 pages.
He spent the final years of his life in Dinant in Belgium. In 1911, the review, Missions O.M.I., published a long report by Father A. Dru on the Oblate house of the Sacred Heart in Dinant. Among other things, we read: “May 30, 1904 marked the arrival in Dinant of venerated Father Soulerin, expelled from France like the other members of the general house. He found refuge under our roof for his old age and the last years of his life. His presence among us greatly enriched our community. This priest brought with him, not only the glory of many years spent as a member of the Congregation, but a wide experience, as well as solid virtue which made him a consummate model and a reliable counsellor, and what was even more to his credit, affability which won everyone’s confidence. As well, Father Soulerin was the spiritual director of the community and of a large number of priests in the city and the surrounding area.” (p. 178)
Father Soulerin succumbed to intestinal cancer on March 11, 1909. Father Dru ended off his report by saying: “Our cherished Father Soulerin [...] held such a large place in our community! His prayer life, his sound and accurate judgment, his gentleness, his good spiritedness always wary of novelties, his religious spirit based on obedience and charity, were for the house a continued source of edification. From Heaven, may he pray for those whom he loved and edified on earth.” (p. 189)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome: Dossiers 1 and 2: Various documents, faculties and powers; Dossier 3: 17 letters to various people; Dossiers 4 and 5: About 50 letters to Father Fabre (1862-1891). Ms Source: Preaching, 40 pages.
Archives of the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface: Letters to Bishop Taché.
CARRIÈRE, G., o.m.i., “Alexandre Soulerin”, in Dictionnaire Biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, vol. III, Ottawa, 1979, p. 197.