Born at Brest (Finistère), April 19, 1831.
Taking of the habit at Nancy, August 4, 1857.
Oblation at Montolivet, January 19, 1859. (no. 470)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, May 25, 1861.
Died at Saint-Andelain, August 25, 1898.
Joseph-Marie Thévenon was born at Brest in the diocese of Quimper on April 19, 1831. He made his philosophical studies at the major seminary of Quimper in 1856-1857. Father Guinet, the master of novices at Nancy, preached a retreat in the summer of 1857. He brought back with him this seminarian who, without saying goodbye to his parents, went to Nancy where he began his novitiate on August 4. In the July-August reports on the novices, Father Guinet wrote: “This candidate is a treasure. Genuine and pleasant prayer life. A sensitive heart in the good sense of the word. Intelligent and funny as a crutch, he radiates joy; even when he is ill.., he sings wholeheartedly. For a long time already, he has had a love especially for preaching and he will do well in this ministry…” In September-October, Father Guinet added: “A heart overflowing with joy and the love of God; he feels a keen need to express his happiness publicly and to share it with his confreres…”
Father Berne, master of novices in 1858, continued to sing the praises of the qualities and the good dispositions of Brother Thévenon. In May, however, he is disappointed with the sermon he preached in the refectory. In June-July, he stated that his novitiate year “was excellently turned to account.”
In September 1858, Brother Thévenon went to Montolivet where he began his study of theology and where he made his oblation on January 19, 1859. Father Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, always judged him rather harshly. For example, he wrote in his reports: “1859, this brother possesses good will, virtue and a prayer life, but he seems rather to live in his feelings. When it comes to direction, he is hard to please […]; 1860, very good, full of virtue, generosity and regular observance, always a character [….] 1861, good religious, but a bit odd, weird temperament […]”
Ordained to the priesthood in Marseilles on May 25, 1861, Father Thévenon received his obedience for Le Calvaire where he was associate director for the youth work of Fr. Allemand. When the Oblates withdrew from this work at the end of 1862, Father Thévenon spent a few weeks at Aix, a few months at Notre-Dame de l’Osier and at Notre-Dame de Cléry; then, he went to Angers where he worked as a mission preacher from 1864 to 1875. It is not easy to determine precisely the various obediences Father Thévenon received. According to Missions O.M.I., he was a member of the Tours community in 1875-1878, that of Angers from 1878-1880, superior at Nancy in 1880-1883. We then find him at Jersey with the minor seminarians in 1884, at Pontmain in 1885-1887, at Talence in 1888-1893, recuperating at Saint-Andelain in 1898. That is where he died on August 25, 1898.
Father Thévenon especially preached missions. In a report from the house at Nancy covering January 1881 to May 1882, while he was superior there, he preached a Lenten series in Brest, some missions in ten parishes and eight retreats. When his health began to fail in 1888, he took up the post of chaplain for the hermit Sisters of the Holy Family of Bordeaux.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula. Montolivet, January 19, 1859; a few letters to Fathers Martinet, Sardou and Soullier.