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Historical dictionary... (515)

Bourrelier, Hilarion

Born at Grans (Bouches-du-Rhône), October 25, 1790.
Taking of the habit, November 4, 1816.
Oblation at Notre-Dame du Laus, September 8, 1819. (no. 9b)
Ordination to the priesthood, Aix, April 8, 1821.
Left the Oblates and was dispensed from his vows in 1824.

Hilarion Bourrelier was born at Grans on October 25, 1790. He made the acquaintance of the Missionaries of Provence during their first mission at Grans in February-March of 1816. The Founder soon saw that he was uneducated and sent him to Notre-Dame du Laus in January of 1819 when that shrine was accepted. Father Tempier, who had been appointed superior and was the founder of this second house of the society, taught him Latin and theology from 1819 until 1821. Novice Bourrelier make his oblation at Notre-Dame du Laus on September 8, 1819 and was ordained to the priesthood at Aix on April 8, 1821. Father de Mazenod who judged him “profoundly ignorant” stood as guarantor on his behalf with the archbishop of Aix as to the virtuous life of this future priest to whom he would entrust pastoral responsibilities only with prudence.

During the summer of 1821, Father Bourrelier who was assigned material tasks at Notre-Dame du Laus considered himself useless in the Congregation and was thinking of leaving it. On August 27, the Founder wrote him a lengthy and very fine letter to express his sorrow and exhorted him to repent: “Your salvation is at stake and my responsibility is compromised before God, before the Church and before men.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 71, p. 83) The following September 21 [sic], he wrote to him again stating that the work to which he was assigned was not the important thing. “One always does enough when one does only what obedience prescribes.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 72, p. 84)

In 1822 and 1823, Father Bourrelier went often enough to Aix, but he usually stayed at Notre-Dame du Laus with Father Touche with whom he did not get along. In the spring of 1824, he asked the archbishop of Aix to incardinate him into the diocese as a diocesan priest. Father de Mazenod heard of this and wrote to Father Courtès to remind the archbishop that one could not entrust Father Bourrelier with pastoral responsibilities. After that, he said, let whatever happens happen: “It would be infinitely better for us to be rid of such a fellow.”

Without warning, Father Bourrelier did indeed leave Notre-Dame du Laus in the month of May and in the month of August asked to be dispensed from his vows. The Founder granted him this dispensation and was planning to advise him to go to La Trappe. Behind his name in the Registry of admissions to the novitiate he wrote: “Bourrelier is an apostate.” According to a note written by Father Tempier in 1845, Abbé Bourrelier was the priest-sacristan at Saint Maximin in the diocese of Aix.

Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.

Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula Notre-Dame du Laus, September 8, 1819; 13 letters to Father Tempier and 11 letters to Father de Mazenod (1819-1824)