- Gallo, Jean Léonard
- Gandar, Édouard
- Gazard, Jean-Baptiste
- Gazzano, Jean-Marie
- General Chapters during our Founder’s Lifetime
- Genin, Victor
- Genthon, Jean Louis
- Gibelin, Joseph
- Gibelli, Antoine-Marie
- Gigaud, Léopold
- Gignoux, Joseph André Jérôme
- Gillet, Marie-Joseph
- Giroud, Victor Joseph
- Golden Madonna, The (Marseilles)
- Gondrand, Charles Ferdinand
- Gregory XVI, Pope from 1831 to 1846
- Grognard, Marcellin Henri
- Guibert, Cardinal Joseph Hippolyte
- Guigou, Jean Joseph Pierre, Vicar Capitular of Aix
- Guinet, François-Xavier
- Guinet, Jean-Baptiste
Gondrand, Charles Ferdinand
Born at Saint-Siméon-de-Bressieux (Isère), June 11, 1824
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1842
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 15, 1843 (no. 108)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, October 3, 1847
Dispensation from vows, end of November 1861.
Charles Ferdinand Gondrand was born at Saint-Siméon-de-Bressieux, diocese of Grenoble, June 11, 1824 in a rather poor family. With reference to this, in an October 22, 1853 letter to Father Vincens, Bishop de Mazenod wrote: “I have not forgotten that it was already in very difficult circumstances when we received him as a child to feed him, clothe him, care for him and educate him for years and years.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1850-1855, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1181, p. 170) From 1840-1842, he was, in fact, a minor seminarian at Notre-Dame de Lumières. He began his novitiate on August 14, 1842 at Notre-Dame de l’Osier where he made his oblation on August 15, 1843. He then became a scholastic brother at the major seminary of Marseilles until his ordination on October 3, 1847.
Early on, his teachers and the Founder recognized his talents, but found him to be lacking in regularity. In his Diary entry of August 28, 1844, Bishop de Mazenod expressed his surprise at seeing him arrive at Marseilles without any justification while he was on vacation at Notre-Dame de Lumières. He added: “This brother is always ever more astonished when we rebuke him for not having the exemplary conduct he should. He declares that he is beyond reproach and he is unable to grasp the fact that people would write me to tell me that they are not totally satisfied with his conduct when they do not tell him so on the spot. It is true that Father Bellon praised him to me and had given him the responsibility to teach philosophy to his confreres.”
Professor at the Major Seminary of Ajaccio (1847-1848)
Immediately after his ordination, he was sent to the major seminary of Ajaccio where he taught philosophy. Father Magnan, the superior, found that this young professor possessed some excellent qualities, but was too self confident. In a short space of time, along with Father Palle, he became the object of “the none too gentle criticism of Fathers Chauvet and Pont.” Father Magnan bemoaned the attitude of these two older professors. On March 6, 1848, he wrote the Founder: “Our two young directors certainly do have their faults. Their regular observance and their piety leave more to be desired than that of their accusers, but it seems to me that they make up for a great many of their faults because there is something good and straightforward in their conduct [...] They are willing to have a superior, but will not accept having three of them.” Father Chauvet could not restrain himself and put pressure on the superior. At the end of the academic year, Father Magnan asked the Founder to recall Father Gondrand to Marseilles. He noted:” [Father Gondrand] possesses courage and good intentions, but he needs to grow up a little more before being put on a seminary staff.”
Missionary at Limoges (1848-1851)
At the General Council session of August 21, 1848 Father Gondrand was replaced at Ajaccio by Father Jean Verdet and Father Gondrand was sent with Father Charles Baret to Limoges where Father Melchior Burfin was superior. Father Burfin judged that both of his young confreres were gifted as preachers and, from 1850 already, allowed Father Gondrand to preach the Lenten series at the cathedral in Limoges. The Founder wrote to them once in a while to let them know of his affection for them, to urge them to regular observance of the religious life and to study. In an April 16, 1850 letter, he rejoiced in their success and urged them to practice humility: “You are young, take care lest you become the victims of vainglory. As you know, you would lose all the merit of your labours...” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1850-1855, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1041, p. 9)
Professor and Preacher at Marseilles (1851-1853)
At the General Chapter of 1850, the decision was taken to require that the young priests do two years of “advanced studies” before being sent into the ministry. This experiment lasted for only two years, from 1851 to 1853 at Le Calvaire at Marseilles. Father Gondrand was a member of the professorial staff. As soon as he arrived at Marseilles, the Founder asked him to preach at vespers on July 13, the day of Bishop Allard’s consecration. In his July 19, 1851 letter to Father Tempier, the Founder wrote: “Father Gondrand, in the presence of the five bishops and an innumerable congregation, gave us a superb sermon on the episcopate which he had composed within a week with his prodigious talent which astonishes everyone.” (Letters to North America, 1851-1860, Oblate Writings I, vol. 2, no. 149, p. 20)
In 1852, he was appointed second assessor of the house and professor of eloquence, in spite of Father Tempier’s opposition. Father Tempier was of the opinion that the kind of rhetoric espoused by Father Gondrand was at variance with the Oblate style of preaching. Father Gondrand’s style, Father Tempier wrote to the Founder in August, consists in “insights into an unintelligible metaphysics which only tickles the ears of a few privileged people… his gestures, his manner, his delivery... that would make you comedians.” (François de Paule Henry Tempier, Second Father of the O.M.I., (1788-1870), Oblate Writings II, vol. 2, no. 106, p. 155) Father Tempier went on to say that precautions should be taken to keep the young priests from following his example of lack of regular religious observance “...his comportment, his nosing into everything, his independent airs, his shameless bearing, the elbow-room he gives himself, his free-wheeling manner of judging and passing sentence on everything.” (Ibidem) Nevertheless, the Founder was satisfied with his behaviour and his teaching. On January 21, 1853, he wrote to Father Baret that Father Gondrand “is making himself very useful here among our young Fathers, and he is presently engaged in an in depth study of saint Thomas.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1850-1855, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1132, p. 115)
Temporary Secularization (1853) and Dispensation from Vows (1861)
During the summer of 1853, Father Gondrand went to Notre-Dame de l’Osier and to visit his family where one of his brothers had just died, leaving a numerous progeny living in poverty. As a result, Father Gondrand asked to be dispensed from his vows in order to help his family. In a September 28, 1853 letter, Bishop de Mazenod refused his request: “You really have to have forgotten the obligations of your vocation to be convinced that the perpetual bonds contracted by you before the holy altar and an oath sworn, so to speak, into the very hands of Jesus Christ himself can be dispensed for the reasons that you allege [...] But to free you from your vows, never! No, never, by the grace of God would I countenance that degree of dishonesty.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1850-1855, Oblate Writings I, vol. 11, no. 1177, p. 166) He, nevertheless, concludes his letter by authorizing Father Gondrand, if necessary, to work outside the Oblate communities to support his family on the condition that he live in the spirit of poverty and keep in contact with the Superior General.
That is what Father Gondrand did. He maintained a continuous correspondence with the Founder and Father Casimir Aubert, the secretary general. In the General Council session of May 15, 1859, it is stated that Father Gondrand is prepared to return to live in an Oblate house on the condition that he will be able to continue to support his parents. In the Council’s report, we read: “Considering the fact that from this situation there will inevitably arise once again some difficulties, taking into consideration moreover the state of health of this priest, a state of health which will not permit him to follow the Rule, the council is of the opinion that he should be authorized to continue living in his special situation.”
After the death of Bishop de Mazenod, Father Gondrand wrote to Father Tempier on November 26, 1861, in order ask to be dispensed from his vows. He added: “Do not, Venerated Father, look upon me as a rebel deserving of your condemnation, but rather as one afflicted and still worthy of your solicitude.” Father Tempier, Vicar General of the Congregation at this time, wrote on this same letter: “Answer sent, November 30. Dispensation granted.”
After 1853, Father Gondrand was an assistant parish priest in Bourgoin (Isère), a missionary circulating throughout almost the whole of France, and finally, parish priest at Saint-Chef (Isère) where he died in 1890. He preached a great deal and published at his own expense some of his sermons, in particular, Les béatitudes évangéliques (Marseilles, 1881). After his death, Fathers Pierre Nicolas and Marius Devès published seven volumes of his sermons. (Paris, 1897-1901)
Father Nicolas, a friend and admirer of Father Gondrand, left some notes intended to contribute to an obituary. It was a summary of Father Gondrand’s sermons. Among other things, we read in Father Nicolas’ notes: “Gondrand, teacher. It was in this role especially that he was outstanding and that his learning shone forth miraculously.” Father Nicolas also copied out two pages of testimonies of bishops and Oblates about Father Gondrand, a preacher who “searched all the depths of the Gospels” (Bishop C. L. Gay, preacher and auxiliary bishop of Poitiers) whose “lectures revealed the theologian, the ascetic, the thinker and the writer,” (Bishop Gaspard Mermillod, Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva, subsequently cardinal). Father Burfin considered the writings of Father Gondrand as “works of genius” and Father Charles Baret used to say as well: “In the course of history, I know of no other creative genius equal to Gondrand,” etc.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.
Oblate General Archives in Rome. Oblation formula, August 15, 1843; 17 letters to Bishop de Mazenod and 15 others to some Oblates; some twenty Oblates mention him about fifty times in their correspondence. Notes and memoranda, 1858-1887 (2 volumes); preaching 1848-1890 (3 volumes, 1300 pages); notes for “the course of advanced studies,” etc.