Born: Marolles-les-Braults (Sarthe),
France, April 20, 1823.
Priestly ordination: Le Mans, May 25, 1850.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, August 14, 1851.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, August 15, 1852 (N. 330).
Died: Ottawa, Canada, May 2, 1905.
Marie-Joseph Royer was born in Marolles-les-Braults, diocese of Le Mans, on April 20, 1823. His parents were Marin Royer and Anne Fouasson. He studied in the minor seminary of Précigné and in the major seminary of Le Mans. He was ordained to the priesthood in Le Mans on May 25, 1850 by Bishop Jean-Baptiste Bouvier of that diocese. He had met Father Léonard Baveux, o.m.i., during his time in the seminary. Wishing to enter the Oblates and in order to test his vocation more in detail, he obtained a position as a tutor in a family in the diocese of Angers. He then took the religious habit in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on August 14, 1851 and took vows on August 15, 1852. The novice master, Father Gustave Richard, in a report written on August 11, 1851, wrote: Royer: “a priest for a year now and 28 years of age, seems filled with the priestly spirit and very devout. He is a cheerful and amiable character. His health is strong. He likes to preach and he seems to have a disposition for the ministry. His talents seem quite good. His disposition is excellent in every way.” On October 16, 1861, Father Richard added: “he continues to be the edification of the novitiate because of his good religious spirit. When he is in the pulpit he is listened to with pleasure; simplicity both in style and thought. He is pious and instructive. His ideas are simple and pleasing. He is a very good and fervent priest.”
During his novitiate he preached a number of missions and jubilees with Fathers Melchior Burfin and François-Xavier Guinet and he remained attached to the novitiate (1852-1853) and continued to preach during that time. He then received an obedience for Canada and ministered in the house of Saint-Pierre-Apôtre in Montreal (1853-1855) as a preacher. He was then in Saint-Sauveur, Quebec (1855-1863), again in Montreal (1863-1868) and from there he became superior in Bishop’s House, Ottawa (1868-1869). During the revolt of the half-breeds in the west, he became chaplain to the 3rd battalion and earned a commemorative medal for his ministry in that expedition (1870-1873).
Returning to France, he ministered in Notre-Dame de Talence in Bordeaux (1873-1874), was superior in Saint-Jean d’Autun 1874-1877), returned to Talence (1877-1879), then ministered in Nancy (1879-1880) in Notre-Dame de Pontmain (1880-1881) and in Autun (1881-1883).
At his own request he returned to Canada and lived in Montreal (1883-1889). In Saint-Sauveur, Quebec (1889-1902) and then he retired to the Saint Joseph Scholasticate in Ottawa (1902-1905). One of the districts on the Province of Quebec bears his name.
The number of apostolic ministries of Father Royer was quite considerable. He himself estimated that there were about seven hundred, not counting sermons for occasions. The author of his necrology note says: “Generally Father Royer’s zeal had its recompense; his sermons were crowned with success to the great satisfaction of the pastors who asked for his help. He disturbed consciences, moved hearts, converted the most hardened. He succeeded in renewing parishes and the good he brought about was lasting.”
Father Royer died in Ottawa on May 2, 1905. He is buried in the cemetery of Gatineau-Hull.
Sources and Bibliography
oblation formula; manu note; ten letters.
“R.P. Joseph Royer”, in Missions OMI, 65 (1931), pp. 202-209.
Carrière, Gaston, o.m.i., “Marie-Joseph Royer”, in Dictionnaire biographique des Oblats de M.I. au Canada, Tome III, Ottawa, 1979, pp. 147-1148. This is the text that is reproduced here with certain additions.