Born: Trégarantec (Finistère), March 10, 1836
Took the habit: Nancy, October 13, 1858
Vows: Montolivet, December 17, 1859 (No. 495bis)
Priestly ordination: Marseilles, April 7, 1860
Left the Congregation to enter the Cistercians in 1869
Jean-Marie Caër was born in Trégarantec, diocese of Quimper, on March 10, 1836. His parents were Jean-Claude Caër and Anne Le Bihan. After two years theology in the major seminary of Quimper, he began his novitiate in Nancy on October 13, 1858. Shortly after his entry the novice master wrote in his report: “Caër has done everything well. He leaves nothing to be desired from the point of view of piety, solid virtue and love of penance… He is truly zealous. He is happy in the real sense of the word.” This judgement made by Father Francois-Xavier Guinet did not change with time. At the end of September, he again wrote: “Caër is an excellent candidate, ardent, cheerful, of solid piety, intelligent, quick to adapt to novitiate, happy in his vocation which he had thoroughly examined before making his decision; good health, cheerful and open character.”
The novice spent the school year 1859-1860 in Montolivet where he made his vows on December 17, 1859. Before his oblation, Father Antoine Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, wrote that he was “quite good at everything” but he pointed out some defects: “A rather shy character, hesitant; he cannot decide; he hesitated for some time at the thought of his oblation; he has become more sure of himself since coming here.”
Bishop de Mazenod ordained him to the priesthood on April 7, 1860 and on the 9th the young priest left Marseilles for Red River where he arrived with Bishop Grandin on July 10. For five and a half years he worked under the direction of Father Albert Lacombe in the three missions of Lac-Sainte-Anne, Saint Albert and Saint-Joachim (Edmonton). He also visited the Amerindians in the prairie. At the beginning of 1866 he was sent to accompany Bishop Grandin in the mission of Saint-Jean-Baptiste at Île-à-la-Crosse and from there he visited the mission of Portage-la-Loche. Often he was alone in his ministry to the Crees and the Montagnais and he had the responsibility for materials, work and farm. Writing to Father Vandenberghe, on July 24, 1866, he said that he had to feed 65 people and he was not made for that.
In fact, in writing to Bishop de Mazenod at the beginning of his time in Saint-Boniface, on July 16, 1860, he said that he would prefer the monastic life to the work of the apostolate but that he had obeyed the novice master and the moderator of scholastics. Afterwards, in his letters to Fathers Joseph Fabre, Lacombe and Vandenberghe, he said that he was working zealously but that he desired increasingly to live the monastic life and that he would leave as soon as he had permission to do so. He returned to France in 1869 and entered the Cistercian monastery of Reposoir, near Cluses in the region of Haute-Savoie, having had the permission of the General Council on November 5, 1869.
and Gaston Carrière, o.m.i.