Born: La Fare (Hautes-Alpes), July 12, 1831.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, October 19, 1853.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 1, 1854 (No. 377).
Died: Durban, South Africa, November 8, 1888.
Ferdinand Manuel was born in La Fare, diocese of Gap, France, on July 12, 1831. He began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on October 19, 1853 and it was there that he took vows as a scholastic on November 1, 1854. He had been admitted to vows in the meeting of the general council on the preceding October 22. In the minutes of the meeting of the council the secretary noted that: “Brother Manuel has done his philosophy, and seems to have very ordinary intelligence, but he is pious and punctual in observance and very devoted to the Congregation.” He studied theology in Montolivet (1854-1856). Father Antoine Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, formed the same opinion with regard to the candidate. He found him to be “very good and punctual in observance, “but deadly slow”, “no life, no energy” and with “little talent”, a “sleepy character”. The general council, on February 1, 1856, suggested that he become a Brother because his teachers judged it “improper that he be raised to Holy Orders”, as “he would be unable to acquire the necessary knowledge.” The Brother gladly accepted this change, as it was just what he wanted.
He received his obedience for Natal and he left in the spring of 1856 in the company of Father Victor Bompart. He was sacristan and treasurer in Pietermaritzburg until 1881. Bishop Allard, who was never satisfied with the religious life of his subjects, nevertheless wrote of Brother Manuel: “As a matter of principle, to have an idea of a perfect religious and ecclesiastic, one has only to see Brother Manuel, in church, in the house, in all that he does going out to the town on business. In church, he always came dressed in cassock, at least on Sundays, and wearing a surplice. The faithful could say of him that he was an angel; he was never seen to give any sign or gesture of frivolity. His appearance of recollection at the foot of the altar delighted even those recently converted from Protestantism and they sang his praises.”
From 1881 to 1888 Brother Manuel was a member of the Durban community, apart from one year spent in the community of Saint Francis Xavier in the Bluff. In Durban his main task was infirmarian to Father Jean-Baptiste Sabon, who was paralysed and died in January 1885. On Sundays he visited the prisoners. He died suddenly in Durban on November 8, 1888.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.