Chaise-Dieu (Haute Loire), France, on October 9, 1826.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, October 19, 1849.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 1, 1850 (No. 284).
Priestly ordination: Marseille, March 11,1854.
Died: Vancouver, Canada, March 25, 1907.
Pierre Louis Richard was born in La Chaise-Dieu, diocese of Le Puy, France, on October 9, 1826. His parents were Jean Richard, a property owner, and Madeleine Montmège. He studied in the minor seminary of la Chartreuse and joined the novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on October 19, 1849. He took vows there on November 1, 1850. On October 15, 1850, when sending him to Marseille, the novice master, Father Jacques Santoni wrote: “This young man seems to me to have solid virtue. His behaviour during novitiate was consistently good and, during his probation year he followed courses in rhetoric that were given in Notre-Dame de l’Osier. He is very kindhearted and sensitive both to the affection of his family and to whatever good deeds are done for him. His (intellectual) means are modest. Now, this is what this young man has against him: first of all, his shyness of character, then there is a certain awkwardness, a wildness in his exterior bearing, and then a certain embarrassment in speaking; it is not stammering but, I believe, his tongue is too thick, his jaw bone out of joint, all of which makes his pronunciation difficult and ungraceful.”
He studied theology in the major seminary of Marseille from 1850 to 1854. In his reports, the moderator of scholastics mentions Pierre Richard only once, in July 1853: “Brother Pierre Richard has shown much courage and virtue in the trials which he has undergone for long time. In spite of the defect in his tongue he is able to give satisfaction and has done so very well in everything. He is a candidate of solid and proven virtue.”
Bishop de Mazenod ordained him to the priesthood on March 11, 1854 and then left him for some months in the Calvary church before giving him an obedience for the Oregon mission. Father Richard lived at Olympia, Washington State (1854-1858) except for a brief absence to minister in Walla Walla. He also went to work among the Cayouse Indians. His signature is on the registers of Priest Point (1857-1858). He spent some time at Esquimalt, on Victoria Island, British Colombia (1858) and went to found a mission in Okanagan (1858-1859). He then went to Fort Hope (1859) and returned to the mission of the Immaculate Conception at Okanagan, Kamloops (1859-1868). Afterwards he ministered in Tulalip, Washington State (1868-1878). Returning to Canadian territory, he spent some time in Kamloops (1878-1883), in Cranbrook (1883-1892), again in Kamloops (1892-1894), and in Mission City (1894-1899). He was 73 years of age when he was assigned to his last mission in Squamish, Vancouver North (1899-1907) and there he was missionary, chaplain to the Sisters and catechist for the children. That is where he died on March 25, 1907. He is buried in the Oblate cemetery at Mission City, British Colombia.
The author of his short necrology note concludes with this paragraph: “Father Richard learned to use his robust health, not only in the service of the salvation of souls, but also to acquire material good for his brothers and the native peoples, by devoting his energy to gardening”. He was a “good gardener” in every sense of the word. He cultivated the most beautiful virtues in his soul, especially a great love for the Congregation and a perfect regularity, which, for his brothers, were the perfume of edification.”
Sources and Bibliography
G. A.: oblation formula, November 1, 1850;
necrology note; about 50 letters mainly to Bishops D’Herbomez and Durieu.
“Le R. Père Richard”, in Missions OMI, 64 (1930), pp. 2265-266.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., “Pierre Richard”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Tome III, Ottawa, 1979, pp. 126-127. This is the text used here, with some additions.