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Historical dictionary... (515)

Bonnard, Joseph

Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 15, 1845
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, July 16, 1846 (no. 156)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, March 25, 1850
Died at Aix-en-Provence, July 22, 1891.

Joseph Bonnard (GA).

Joseph Bonnard was born at La Roque-d’Anthéron, in the diocese of Aix, on May 23, 1822. Initially, he was a minor seminarian at Notre-Dame de Lumières from 1842 to 1845. He took the habit on July 15, 1845 at Notre-Dame de l’Osier and it was there that he made his oblation on July 16, 1846 along with Brother Jacques Martini. They had been admitted to perpetual vows by the General Council June 22, 1846. In the session’s report the secretary wrote: “Their conduct at the novitiate has constantly been good and regular. They are endowed with a rather cheerful disposition and a sound health.” On August 22, the Founder wrote to them a letter of congratulations in which he spoke to them of the demands of the religious life and the greatness of their calling.

In 1846-1847, Brother Bonnard studied philosophy at Notre-Dame de l’Osier under the direction of Charles Baret. Then, he rejoined the scholastic brothers at the major seminary of Marseilles. On July 8, 1849, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Courtès that he had just ordained Brother Bonnard to the subdiaconate “his head tonsured like a Charthusians.” He was ordained to the priesthood in Marseilles on May 25, 1850. He spent the summer at Notre-Dame de Lumières and received his obedience for the house in Aix where he was prison chaplain and especially preached missions and retreats from 1850 to 1854. That is what he did in Nancy as well and at Notre-Dame de Sion in 1854-1855, then at Notre-Dame de Cléry from 1855 to 1860. On January 17, 1858, Father Marc de L’Hermite, his superior, wrote to Bishop de Mazenod: “This priest is a brilliant success wherever he goes. The parish priests love him. That is really significant. He is one of the renowned missionaries in the diocese.”

In 1860, Father Bonnard returned to Aix where he remained until his death. There he founded the organization the Women Servants. He was chaplain for the normal school for girls and chaplain as the small sanctuary of Notre-Dame de la Seds, near l’Enclos where l’Abbé de Mazenod used to gather the youth of the city. On occasion as well he preached retreats and parish missions. Father Émile Lamblin wrote in his obituary that “Father Bonnard, with his creative enthusiasm, his energy and his great resourcefulness was the classical provençal missionary. He never allowed himself to be discouraged [...] He evangelized almost all the parishes in Provence and always with uncommon success.” He died at Aix on July 22, 1891. His remains were laid to rest in the funeral chapel of the Oblates in the city cemetery.

Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.

Sources and Bibliography
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, July 16, 1846.
Canon MARBOT, Le Père Bonnard in Petites Annales, 1891, p. 355-360.
LAMBIN, É., o.m.i., Le. R. P. Bonnard in Notices nécrologiques O.M.I., vol. VI, Bar-le-Duc, 1895, p. 375-389.