Born: Cauterets (Hautes-Pyrénées), France, September 28, 1830.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, January 17, 1852.
Vows: Marseilles, January 20, 1853 (No. 340).
Priestly ordination: Marseilles, April 23, 1854.
Died: Jaffna, July 12, 1861.
Jean-Baptiste Émile Flurin was born in Cauterets, diocese of Tarbes, France, on September 29, 1830. After secondary studies in the seminary of Saint-Pé and three years in the major seminary of Tarbes, he began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on January 17, 1852. He completed his novitiate in the major seminary of Marseilles from September 1852 to January 20, 1853 when he took vows. He had been admitted to profession in the general council meeting of the preceding December 18. The following note is in the minutes of that meeting: “His character is somewhat serious and sad but he is good and docile; he enjoys sufficiently good health and is not lacking in talent.”
Émile Flurin was a cause of considerable concern to his Oblate educators. He had continuous temptations to despair and considered himself to be abandoned by God and men. Father Mouchette wrote this about him: “sombre, he seems to study ways to stretch his face, to make his appearance fiery. I grind my teeth in order to practice my trade in hell. I am destined to roast …” In the novitiate, Father Gustave Richard wrote that he had never seen anyone so dejected. In the seminary in Marseille, Father Jean Marchal, and later Father Antoine Mouchette, moderators of scholastics, said that it was more a physical illness (hypochondria) than a moral condition, and they wondered what could be done. In 1954 though, he noticed an improvement when he was seriously occupied with work; he sent him to “look for direction” from Bishop de Mazenod. The Bishop ordained him to the priesthood on April 23, 1854 and gave him an obedience for Ceylon together with Father Adrien Saint-Geneys. Writing to Father Semeria, on June 5, he said that “two charming candidates had just left. I could not speak too well of them. They have shown an admirable generosity in their fidelity to the call of their vocation.”
Father Flurin arrived in Jaffna on July 24, 1854 and he remained there one year with Fathers Étienne Semeria and Léon Charles Mauroit. From 1855 to 1857 he ministered in Madhu-Mantotte, at the beginning with Father Vivier and then with Father François Gouret. In 1857 he became ill (amoebic dysentery) and he was recalled to Jaffna where he died on July 12, 1861, “after three long years of much suffering” in the words written by Father Christophe Bonjean in his letter of the following July 23. His body rests in the cathedral of Jaffna alongside that of Joseph Alexandre Ciamin who had died of the same illness, in 1853.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.