Cluses (Haute-Savoie), France, February 26, 1827.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, December 16, 1847.
Vows: Marseille, December 25, 1848 (N. 232).
Priestly ordination: Ottawa, August 10, 1841.
Left the Congregation: 1859.
Died: Vuippens, Switzerland, December 9, 1897.
Pierre François Rouge was born in Cluses, diocese of Annecy, France, on February 26, 1827. His parents were Pierre François Rouge and Françoise Grangerat. He began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on December 16, 1847 and took vows in Marseille on December 25, 1848. During his novitiate, the novice master, Father Ambroise Vincens wrote that this Brother “has many good qualities but is not sufficiently fervent nor sufficiently exact nor sufficiently mortified. Headaches, of which he sometimes complains, excuse him somewhat but there is always the suspicion that he is lacking courage.”
He did one year and a half of theology in the major seminary of Marseille in 1849-1850 and was then sent to the scholasticate in Maryvale in September 1850. While he was in Marseille, Father Jean Joseph Marchal, moderator of scholastics, judged him quite severely. He wrote, among other things: “Rouge: lively and fiery, open and familiar, generous and good, sensitive and kindly, that is how he appears to those whom he likes; as for others, he ignores them or says quite painful things to them openly, or he is irritated by their words and their behaviour. Shallow, impressionable and susceptible, he undertakes a lot at a time and finishes nothing, at times destroying what he finds or what he has begun and not doing anything better; that is how he appears in his work where he has neither method nor perseverance, and in his piety where he wishes to make rapid progress but never reaches solid virtue. … When he was sent to Notre-Dame de Lumières, he had many arguments with the Fathers and he returned with a great deal of prejudice against them and against the priests in the seminary.”
Brother Rouge merely passed through England. He was already in Canada at the end of 1850 and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Guigues of Ottawa on August 10, 1851. He lived and worked at Saint-Pierre-Apôtre, in Montreal, until 1858. In April 1858, Bishop de Mazenod heard that there were serious defects in regularity in Canada, especially in Montreal. In the general council meeting of April 14, 1858, the Founder stated that he would recall from Canada “some of those deviant spirits, Father Rouge among others.” The latter came back during the summer and, in autumn 1858 he was following the course on Higher Studies at Notre-Dame de la Garde under the direction of Father Vincens.
In April 1859 it was suggested that he be sent to accompany Father J. N. Bise who had been appointed pastor in Switzerland. He seems to have refused this obedience and to have gone for a short while to the Trappist monastery. On May 12, the Founder wrote to Father Vincens telling him not to try any further to save this Father because “he is a man completely gone astray, with no heart, no sentiment, no religion”. Nevertheless, in the general council of May 13, it was suggested that he be sent with Father François Bermond to whom it was planned to entrust the direction of the missions in Oregon. Father Bermond refused this obedience and Father Rouge requested Rome to be dispensed from his vows. The Pope left the decision to Bishop de Mazenod. The latter informed Bishop Guigues of the facts on October 9, 1859 and he added: “Nothing can soften this wild spirit. I poured out the full measure of goodness and mercy. Until the end he continued to complain and to calumniate the Congregation and almost all the members of it. …”
Father Rouge left the Congregation and entered the diocesan clergy of Geneva. He was chaplain in Villarsiviriaux, near Orsennes, in Switzerland towards 1860-1861 and became pastor in Vuippens (1862-1897). It was there that he died on December 9, 1897.
Sources and Bibliography
G. A.: oblation formula; three letters of
which one is to Bishop de Mazenod, dated September 12, 1858.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., “Pierre Rouge”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Tome III, Ottawa, 1979, pp. 138-139 together with some archive material.