Born in Septême (Isère), November 3, 1818
Taking of the habit in N.-D. de l’Osier, October 2, 1841
Oblation in N.-D. de l’Osier, October 3, 1842 No. 97)
Ordination to the priesthood in New Westminster, BC, November 1, 1872
Died in Williams Lake, British Columbia, November 17, 1906.
Georges Blanchet was born in Septême, diocese of Grenoble, November 3, 1818, son of Jean Blanchet and Jeanne Viemois. He made his classical studies at the minor seminary of Côte-Saint-André and began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, October 2, 1841. After his oblation October 3, 1842, he began his study of theology at the major seminary of Marseilles. It seems he continued his studies in Notre-Dame de Lumières, while teaching at the juniorate. He received minor orders, was admitted to the sub-diaconate on December 16, 1844, but refused to advance to major orders. April 17, 1845, Bishop de Mazenod announced to Father Vincens that Father Santoni was appointed novice master at l’Osier and Brother Blanchet was appointed treasurer.
At the beginning of 1847, Brother Blanchet along with Father Pascal Ricard was a member of the first group of Oblates sent to Oregon. Upon arrival in Walla Walla in September of 1847, Brother Blanchet was appointed procurator for the vicariate. By virtue of this office, he subsequently purchased several pieces of property, drew up plans and contributed, along with other brothers, to the building of several missions and churches in Oregon and in British Columbia. In 1848, we find him in Yakima, then in Walla Walla, in Olympia from 1850 to 1859, in Esquimalt in 1859, in New Westminster in 1860-1861 and 1864-1868, in Victoria in 1862 where he taught French, at Fort George in 1863 and Fort Rupert in 1864 and William’s Lake in 1868 to 1872.
Upon the insistence of Bishop Louis D’Herbomez, Vicar Apostolic for British Columbia, he accepted to be ordained to the priesthood to be a companion of the missionary at Stuart Lake. He finished his theological studies at New Westminster where he was ordained to the priesthood on November 1, 1872 at 52 years of age. In his brief obituary published in Missions O.M.I. in 1932, p. 216, we read that “For almost thirty years he refused to be promoted to sacred orders because of a profound humility.” Father Gaston Carrière wrote that “Through humility, he refused to receive sacred orders because he had lost a finger in a hunting accident.” It would seem that another motive might have influenced this refusal. Brother Blanchet seemed to be inclined to discouragement and the fear of taking risks. August 13, 1851, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Ricard: “You mention to me the discouragement of brother [Blanchet]. I will redouble my prayers for him”. In December 1853, he wrote again: “But what is dear Blanchet thinking of? How is it that the sight of such great and pressing needs does not put a little energy into his soul? We need only to will it, and with the grace of God we can overcome even greater obstacles: is this not something that we see every day in our ministry? What a pity that such a lovable child, whom I love so tenderly and for whose sanctification I would shed my blood, should sit down like this and refuse to walk forward any more. I cannot understand this way of thinking. It seems to me that it is impossible that a man, a religious, who is so good, so full of good qualities and real virtues, should not say once and for all: “the grace of God will not let me down”; I press him to my heart, and bless him together with you and all our Fathers.”
After his ordination, Father Blanchet lived in Stuart Lake (1873-1882), Williams Lake (1882-1885), Kamloops (1885-1887), Stuart Lake where he is superior (1887-1897), and finally in Williams Lake, almost blind, from 1897 to 1906. He died there, November 1906, at the age of 88 years. A river and a lake in British Columbia were named after him.
Sources and Bibliography
formula, October 3, 1842; testament, October 8, 1855 in Olympia; a letter to
Bishop D’Herbomez (1872).
Thomas, F.M., o.m.i., “Un pionnier de l’Orégon”, in Petites Annales…, No. 17 (1907), p. 69-74, 139-145, 308-315, 343-350, 425-432, 465-471; 18 (1908), p. 113-117, 184-189.
“R.P. Georges Blanchet”, in Missions O.M.I., No. 66 (1932), p. 216-219.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., “Georges Blanchet”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Vol. I, Ottawa, 1976, pp. 102-103.