Born: Aps (Ardèche), France, February 4,
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, May 9, 1849.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, May 10, 1850 (N. 277).
Priestly ordination: Aix, September 21, 1850.
Died: Inchicore, April 20, 1857.
François Gustave Richard was born in Aps, diocese of Viviers, France, on February 24, 1827. Towards the end of his seminary studies in Viviers he joined the novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on May 9, 1849 and took vows there on May 10, 1850. He had been accepted for vows in the general council meeting of the previous April 15. The minutes of that meeting give the following note: “Admitted to vows: Brothers François Didier and Gustave Richard. Both of them have been punctual, obedient and devoted to all the duties imposed on them by religious discipline. The qualities of Brother Richard; his remarkable talents, his perfect suitability to apostolic life, his good education, his character which is simple, forthright, open, in a word his religious virtues leave no doubt and indicate that this candidate is a member who will do honour to the Congregation and will give useful service to the Church in the divine work of the missions”.
He spent a while in the seminary in Marseille. The moderator of scholastics, however, had time to pass the following judgement in September 1850: “Gustave Richard has been punctual, submissive and dedicated, devoted to duty like a man who knows, feels and wishes to accomplish his duties generously. He is serious, prudent and seems to have authority over his confreres by means of his good conduct and his enterprising zeal. I seem to note that he has a facility to pass judgement and to be somewhat demanding in character; at games he is merciless. He is solid and sure of himself.”
Bishop de Mazenod ordained him to the priesthood in the major seminary of Aix on September 21, 1850 and in July he appointed him novice master in Notre-Dame de l’Osier. We find his signature on entry files beginning from August 14, 1851. He received fourteen letters from the Founder giving him advice on how to form the novices.
In October 1852, he began “spitting blood quite abundantly”. The Founder insisted that he take a complete rest and on October 21, he told him that he was sending him to England “in charge of the novitiate which was being established” at Lys Marie, in Sicklinghall. He fulfilled this mission for three years and he signed 23 entry forms for the novitiate between April 30, 1853 and June 15, 1856. During that time he received seven letters from the Founder.
His health continued to deteriorate. In a letter on August 22, 1856, Bishop de Mazenod ordered him “to rest absolutely”, and then, after a time, he sent him to be superior in the Oblate house which Father Robert Cooke had just founded at Inchicore, near Dublin. The illness progressed rapidly and on April 20, 1857, he died. On the 30th of the same month, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Casimir Aubert who was making a visitation in Corsica: “I do not know if someone has taken advantage of the postal service to inform you in Corsica of the sad news of the death of our Father Richard of England. His death was, as we might expect, like that of a saint, but it would take more virtue that I have to find even in that the consolation that would help me to accept such a great loss with perfect resignation. My heartfelt suffering is to the degree of making me foresee my forthcoming visit to England with a certain repugnance, even though I anticipated so much satisfaction in it. I reproach myself with having agreed to send this excellent priest to the nasty climate of England. Of course I did not know then that his chest was threatened. I am really inconsolable because of this great loss because he was an accomplished man. Besides, I do not even have the consolation of having a portrait of him which would bring to mind the features of this much lamented son”.
Sources and Bibliography
G. A.: oblation formula; copies of five
letters to some priests; letters from Fathers Cooke, Crousel and Tempier on the
death of Father Richard.
Missions OMI, 5 (1866), p. 688 and 23 91885) pp. 101-103.
Oblate Writings I, Vols. 3, 11 and 12, passim.