Historical dictionary  vol.: 2  let.: F

Frain, Célestin

Born: Miniac-sous-Bécherel (Ille et Vilaine), France, August 3, 1831
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 13, 1854
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 14, 1855 (No. 400)
Priestly ordination: Marseilles, June 8, 1856
Dispensed from vows: May 1865.
Died: New Orleans, USA, November 29, 1916.

Célestin Frain was born in Miniac-sous-Bécherel, diocese of Rennes, on August 3, 1831. His parents were Charles Frain, a labourer, and Anne Guillemer. After two years of theology in the major seminary of Rennes, he began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on November 13, 1854, and took vows there on November 14, 1855. He spent one year in the scholasticate in Montolivet and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop de Mazenod on June 8, 1856. In their reports, Father Florent Vandenberghe, novice master, and Father Antoine Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, make special mention of the great piety and regularity of this scholastic. They speak of his happy disposition and they say that he has “an excellent heart which often makes up for his mind.” He lacks freedom in the presence of his superiors “through an excess of politeness” etc.

At the beginning he was destined for the missions in Ceylon but was considered less likely to be able to put up with the heat and he received his obedience for Red River in December 1856. Nevertheless, he remained at Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseilles during 1856-1857. He hesitated to leave when he heard that his father was broke. On May 13, 1857, the General Administration decided to provide for his parents by “allocating an annual pension of 366 francs to them for life.”

In Western Canada, Father Frain ministered in the mission of Lac-Sainte-Anne, Alberta during 1857-1860. Because of illness, he resided in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, during 1860-1861. He then went to Eastern Canada and became treasurer in Ottawa College (1861-1862) and he took care of the chapel for young people from the Logging Camps, in Hull. From there he went to Les Escoumins, Quebec (1862) and Betsamites (1862-1863). He then returned to France and was a preacher in Angers (1863-1864) and the founder of the house in Rennes (1864-1865). In 1865 he asked to be dispensed from his vows. In his letter to Father Fabre, dated May 11, 1865, he wrote: “It is not so much discontent as the profound persuasion that I cannot live as a good religious where I am in constant conflict (with superiors) and that hurts me not only morally by even physically.” On May 22, 1865, the secretary general wrote in the minutes of the general council: “Frain insists on requesting a dispensation from his vows. The council’s opinion is that he should be allowed to leave the Congregation and asks Most Reverend Father Superior General to give him a dispensation ob duritiam cordis.”

Having been dispensed from his vows, he ministered in the diocese of Detroit, Michigan, in the parish of Redfort (today in the city of Detroit) in 1867, and in Marshall, Michigan (1871-1874). Later he was assistant priest in the cathedral of New Orleans (1871-1874), pastor of the parish of Saint Vincent de Paul in the same city (1871-1874) and secretary to the bishop. He was then pastor in Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, also in New Orleans (1881-1915). He then retired to the Hôtel-Dieu hospital and he died there on November 29, 1916. He had received the title of Monsignor.

Yvon Beaudoin
and Gaston Carrière, o.m.i.

Sources and Bibliography

G. A.: Oblation formula; four letters to Bishop de Mazenod and about fifteen to various Oblates.
Archives of Archbishop’s house, Saint-Boniface: two letters to Bishop Taché.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., Frain, Célestin Marie”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Vol. II, Ottawa 1977, pp.46-47 with bibliography. This article has been completed and reproduced here.


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