Born at Lorient (Morbihan), October 8, 1835
Taking of the habit in Nancy, July 11, 1858
Oblation at Montolivet, December 17, 1859 (No. 495)
Ordination to the priesthood in Marseilles, June 24, 1860
Left the Congregation in Texas in 1889
Died in New Orleans on January 31, 1894.
Charles Dominique Bournigalle was born on October 8, 1835 at Lorient in the diocese of Vannes, France, son of Mathilde Brunet and Auguste Bournigalle. Following his secondary studies at the minor seminary of Sainte-Anne d’Auray and two years of theology at the major seminary of Vannes, he began his novitiate at Nancy on July 11, 1858. He then made one year of theological studies at Montolivet during the academic year of 1859-1860. In his notes, the master of novices indicated that, at times, Brother Bournigalle preferred study to his spiritual exercises and committed “a few acts of over-enthusiasm” but “gave real indications of becoming a preacher” or again “later on could become a professor.”
He made his oblation at Montolivet on December 17, 1859. In 1859, Father Mouchette, the moderator of the scholastic brothers, found him to be “very good, very open, endowed with much good will,” but “too active and taking on too much.” In 1860, he stated that Brother Bournigalle was “regular in his observance… but of a flighty disposition… and sometimes used manipulation to achieve his goals.” Bishop de Mazenod ordained him to the priesthood in Marseilles on June 24, 1860 and gave him his obedience for Canada.
Father Bournigalle exercised his ministry in Buffalo, New York from 1860 to 1862, in Ottawa in 1862-1863, at Saint-Sauveur in Quebec City from 1863 to 1865, in Montreal and Lachine as master of novices from 1865 to 1868, at Saint Peter’s, Plattsburgh from 1869 to 1873 where he was superior and parish priest, in Montreal from 1873 to 1882, in Buffalo in 1882, in Lowell in 1882-1883, at Saint Sauveur in Quebec City as superior and parish priest from 1883 to 1885. He took a vacation in France in 1885-1886 and returned to Lowell from 1886 to 1888.
Initially, in Canada, he was appreciated. In the Personnel of 1862-1863, we read after his name: “In 1863, Father Bournigalle in Quebec City is helping out for Father Dedébant’s church and, in addition, has responsibility for the pastoral care of 200 Irish families… This priest is a very valuable individual, a genuinely zealous missionary, prayerful, full of pep and not bad as a preacher.”
As superior and parish priest at Saint-Sauveur in Quebec City from 1883 to 1885 he was not liked by the faithful. On January 12, 1885 they wrote the provincial a letter accusing their parish priest of “gruffness, lack of courtesy, vulgarity, lack of religion” and of having caused serious disorders. On March 15, 1887, at Saint Joseph’s in Lowell, Father Bournigalle wrote the Superior General to complain of his superior and of the Irish priests. They sent him to San Antonia, Texas. From that time on, his case was often discussed in the sessions of the General Council. On August 1, 1887 it was claimed that Father Bournigalle was upset because they accused him of not saying his breviary and of not going to confession. On October 18, 1887 it is noted that “he basely deserted his post at San Antonio” and had gone to Philadelphia to a contemplative community and that, as of January 2, 1888, he was back in France in lay attire, requesting a letter of recommendation so that he could find a bishop to accept him. He subsequently repented, met with the Oblate authorities in Paris and agreed to return to Texas. In October of 1888, the superior of San Antonio wrote that Father Bournigalle “has entered a path of decline and has begun to sow a spirit of ill-will around him.” In April of 1889, he asked to live outside the community or to be dispensed from his vows. In the July 9, 1889 session of the General Council, the decision was taken to advise him to request a dispensation from his vows in Rome.
Abbé Bournigalle subsequently worked as a diocesan priest in New Orleans in the parish of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 1889-1890, then as chaplain of the Ursulines from 1890 to 1894. He died on January 31, 1894.
Sources and Bibliography
G. A.: Oblation formula; some fifty letters
received and sent; a few letters about him; notes of the master of novices and
the moderator of the scholastic brothers.
Registry of the General Council in 1887-1889, passim.
Missions O.M.I., 1863-1886, passim.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., “Bournigalle, Charles Dominique”, in Dictionnaire biographique de Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Vol. 1, Ottawa, 1976, p. 125-126.