Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, July 3, 1836
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, November 17, 1855
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, November 21, 1856. (no. 427)
Dispensed from his vows January 20, 1862.
Jean Joseph Casimir Bérengier was born in Marseilles August 8, 1810. He studied at the major seminary of Marseilles and on July 3, 1836, was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Eugene de Mazenod, bishop of Icosia. Before dying on April 10, 1836, Abbé Allemand, founder of the Youth Movement had already designated him as his successor. The young priest ran the Movement in the same authoritarian manner as his predecessor but in 1843-1844, he came into conflict with the lay members of the board of directors. Bishop de Mazenod was forced to replace him with Abbé Brunello, then in 1857, by the Oblates.
Initially, Abbé Bérengier worked as an assistant parish priest, then, he spent some time with the Brothers of Saint John of God. Then, he asked to be admitted to the Oblates. Bishop de Mazenod allowed him to do so in 1855 and Abbé Bérengier began his novitiate at Notre-Dame de l’Osier on November 17, 1855. That is where he made his oblation November 21, 1856. At the November 14 General Council session, there was much hesitancy about admitting him. Two of the council members “gave rather plausible reason to fear that this novice, although he was motivated by good will, he still had something so defective in his character that it would prevent him from ever becoming a useful and exemplary member.” The others stated that “his faults, real though they may be, had been, for all that, exaggerated. He also undeniably possessed some good qualities, among others there was his sincere attachment to his vocation, faithful execution of his duties as a novice and extraordinary ability.”
In the personnel Registry of 1862-1863, we find written under his name: “An energetic person, small in build, irrepressible, ready flow of words, intelligent rejoinders, he could do well. After oblation, he was sent to Nancy. Then, he spent some time at Limoges; from there, he was sent to Talence. When our Venerated Founder was replaced [by Father Fabre], Father Bérengier took it into his head that he no longer rely on esteem and friendship in the Congregation and asked to be dispensed from his vows. His request was granted in February of 1862” Indeed, in the General Council session of January 20, 1862, a letter from Father Bérengier was read in which he insisted on being dispensed from his vows “alleging his adhorrence of living with a group of men who merely tolerated him […] In view of this priest’s past history, also in view of his exaggerated sensibility,” reads the session’s report, “we will dispense him from his vows.” Subsequently, Abbé Bérengier carried out his ministry as assistant priest in Marseilles where he died on January 15, 1878.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.