Born at Brignoles (Var), January 20, 1789.
Ordination to the priesthood at Aix.
Taking of the habit, at Aix in February of 1816.
Oblation at Aix, November 1, 1819. (no. 9c)
Left the Society in October 1823.
Died at Seynac, March 9, 1855.
Jean François Sébastien Deblieu was on of the first five companions of the Founder in 1815. Born at Brignoles in the diocese of Fréjus on January 20, 1789, he was baptized the next day. His father was a baker by profession.
From 1808 to 1813, Sébastien studied for the priesthood at the major seminary at Aix where he met the future Fathers Eugene de Mazenod, Henry Tempier and Augustin Icard. The young priest began his priestly ministry as assistant priest in the parish of Saint John extra muros in Aix. He ministered there from 1813 to 1815. In the spring of 1815, he was appointed parish priest of Peynier. His mother, Magdeleine Vaugine, accompanied him to his new parish.
Before October 2, 1815, the date when the Founder purchased the house of the Carmelites in Aix, Abbé Deblieu promised to join the new team of missionaries that was forming. His formula of admission, like those of the first priests, bore the date of October 1815. Still bound to his parish and his mother, he did not succeed in joining the community in Aix until a few days before the mission of Grans which began February 11, 1816.
Father Deblieu had a strong constitution and was considered to be a very good missionary and preacher. He took part in at least 17 of the 40 missions given by the Missionaries of Provence from 1815 to 1823. During the summer, he spent little time in Aix, always taken up with preaching retreats, novenas and triduums he was asked to preach. He knew how to use the prophetic gesture or oratorical devices that made a strong impression on his hearers. As parish priest, he had cast his crucifix into the middle of a dance floor to put an end to the dancing. During the mission in Marseilles, he spoke with such vehemence about the torments of hell that he drew tears from his listeners, cries and groans, several women became ill. Sicard, the commissary who related this incident to the mayor on February 14, 1820, stated that he himself was obliged to revive some of the ailing people with the aid of “restorative spirits,” a bottle of which he had in his pocket.
Unfortunately, Father Deblieu’s appreciation of the religious life did not match his missionary enthusiasm. In the General Chapter held in October of 1818 which approved the introduction of the vows of chastity, obedience and perseverance, Father Deblieu opposed this decision. At the first taking of vows on November 1, 1818, he did not make his oblation. In spite of this, he had just been appointed as first assistant to the Superior General. He decided to make his oblation on November 1, 1819, but hesitated to renew his vows in 1820. At the General Chapter of 1821, he was appointed second assistant general and secretary of the institute.
In the month of July, 1823, shortly after the reconstitution of the see of Marseilles, Fathers de Mazenod and Tempier were appointed vicars general by Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod. Several priests, Deblieu and Maunier in particular, were very unhappy with this appointment. At the same time, the diocese of Fréjus, which had been suppressed by the concordat of 1801, was also reconstituted. Bishop C. A. de Richery summoned the priests originally from his diocese to return. Among other things, he told them that the vows pronounced by the Missionaries of Provence were not valid. The Founder reacted strongly against his affirmations, but was unable to prevent Father Deblieu from leaving the Congregation in the month of October 1823.
Abbé Deblieu lived out his days as a very good priest and held some very important positions in his diocese. He was parish priest of Belgentier in 1823-1824, parish priest of Luc in 1824-1834, then parish priest and dean of Seyne until he died March 9, 1855.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.