Born: Sainte-Sève, Finistère, September 28, 1823
Taking of the habit: Nancy, April 30, 1858
Oblation: Vico, June 21, 1860
Priestly ordination: Marseille, July 14, 1861
Dispensation from vows: July 1870
Yves Nicolas was born in Saint Sève, in the diocese of Quimper, on September 28, 1833. Having studied theology for one year in Quimper and made eighteen months novitiate with the Jesuits, he began his Oblate novitiate in Nancy on April 30, 1858. In May of that year this is what the Novice Master wrote in his notes: “An excellent subject, already fully adapted to religious life. He is characteristically open, expansive, affectionate, but with a tendency to haughtiness and the desire to be number one. Perfectly blended with his new family… Attentive to his spiritual interests. More than ordinary capability. I will find him very useful in the novitiate. Quite a remarkable gift for preaching and is very good at it!”The notes in July are similar: “I continue to be pleased with his outlook. He keeps to the path pointed out to him with simplicity and docility, always careful to have charity reign in his relations with his brothers. He has taken provisional vows.”
In August, Father Guinet noted that he must be more careful with his health, and that he should avoid certain unpleasant outbursts of which he has been guilty. He makes no further mention of him in his notes on the novices for November-December 1858 nor in 1859. Father Mouchette, moderator of scholastics in Montolivet, who is always very precise in his reports, makes no mention of him. What happened exactly? The answer seems to come from the Personnel Register of 1862-1863. “Having been admitted to Nancy and having reached the scholasticate, he was about to be dismissed for health reasons. Having been sent to Corsica his health became quite good. Rather awkward in build, his appearance is neglected and careless. He is not lacking in brains. Three years and three months after making his profession in Vico, he was recalled at the request of the Provincial and the Superior. Although not much disposed to teaching, he liked giving instruction. In 1862 he was sent as a missionary to Talence.”
These details are confirmed by some letters he wrote to the Provincial and to Bishop de Mazenod in 1860, and then to Father Fabre in 1861. It seems that he was sent to Montolivet at the beginning of 1859. He became ill in Marseilles and was sent to Corsica during the summer of 1859. In spite of the fact that he taught at the church school in Vico and worked to keep in touch with the pupils from morning to evening, “whether in their studies, recreation or classes,” he recovered completely and made his profession in Vico on June 21, 1860. He returned to Marseilles to be ordained priest by Bishop Jacques Jeancard on July 14, 1861 and once again he taught in Vico in 1861-1862.
He was then a missionary in Talence from 1862 to 1867, in Nancy from 1868 to 1870 and then, in the spring of 1870, in Notre Dame de Sion. From there, on May 6, he wrote a letter asking to be dispensed from his vows. He gave as motive the need to help his father who was poor and sick. In the minutes of the General Council for May 20, the secretary wrote: “Whatever may be the validity of this motive, we believe it is not the only one. On more than one occasion, Father Nicolas has compromised his dignity and the honour of the Congregation to the extent that such may be done by one of its members and there is little reason to hope that he will mend his ways in a lasting manner. Consequently the Father Procurator has been asked to obtain a full dispensation and not merely a temporary one”. From the minutes of the General Council meetings held on July 15 and 25, we learn that Father Nicolas was dispensed from his vows by the Holy See and that he was appointed parish priest by the Bishop of Nevers.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.