Born in Barhill, Scotland on November 30,
Ordination to the priesthood in Aberdeen, May 22, 1846
Taking of the habit at Sicklinghall, August 23, 1853
Oblation in Sicklinghall, September 21, 1854 (No. 372)
Died in Ottawa, February 2, 1887.
William Bennett was born in Barhill, in the diocese of Edinburgh, son of Margaret Ogilvie and James Bennett on November 30, 1821. After his studies at Aquhorties (1826-1829) and Blairs (1829-1832) colleges in Scotland, then in Rome at the Scottish (1832-1833, 1835-1839) and Roman (1833-1835) colleges, William was appointed professor at Blairs College and ordained to the priesthood in Aberdeen on May 22, 1846 by Bishop James Kyle, vicar apostolic of the district of northern Scotland. He remained as professor at Blairs College after his ordination, was given the pastoral responsibility of the mission of Sterling in 1844-1847 and appointed superior of Saint Clement College in Wellburn near Dundee in 1847.
He entered the novitiate at Sicklinghall in England on August 23, 1853 and made his perpetual vows on September 21, 1854. In a report to Bishop de Mazenod dated August 30, 1853, Father Donat Michaux, the master of novices, wrote: “Bennett, William… good health, good character, straightforward, as ingenuous as a child, made for community life. Adequate talents, loves study a lot, knows French, Italian and German fairly well; he teaches these languages. Made his theological studies in Rome. Initially, priest in a mission church, since that time was for a few years president of a diocesan college in Dundee, Scotland. Does not like parish ministry. He is rather scrupulous, but very obedient. Likes religious life a lot. He seems to have a more than ordinary prayer life and displays a lot of good will.”
He was initially professor (1854-1858), then superior of the minor seminary at Inchicore, Ireland (1854-1870), but it seems he was also superior of Sicklinghall in 1858 and of the house at Leeds in 1865-1866. During his visit to England in 1857, Bishop de Mazenod met Father Bennett. On November 5, the wrote to Father Arnoux: “Do not forget either dear Father Bennett, he knows how much I love him.” And to Father Robert Cooke on June 30, 1858, he wrote: “ I am ever so pleased with the choice that we made of Father Bennett as superior at Sicklinghall. This worthy priest for whom I have developed a singular regard from having met him in Ireland and in England has measured up to my expectations. I would like to have many Englishmen of his stamp.”
In July 1870, he received his obedience for Canada and was professor of Greek and English literature at St. Joseph’s College in Ottawa until his death on February 2, 1887.
Sources and Bibliography
G.A.: Oblation formula, September 21, 1854; letter to Father Fabre,
August 26, 1867; registry book of the General Council, July 8, 1870; dossier
Inchicore, letter Michaux-Mazenod, 30 August 1853.
Carrière, Gaston., o.m.i., “Bennett, William”, in Dictionnaire biographique des O.M.I. au Canada, Vol. I, Ottawa, 1976, p. 78-79 with bibliography. The dates of birth and ordination given as 1815 and 1842 have as their source a letter from the parish priest of Barhill to Father Carrière. The Nécrologe oblat gives 1821 as date of birth and 1846 as date of ordination.