Born in Marseilles, March 21, 1804
Taking of the habit, Marseilles, October 28, 1827
Ordination to the priesthood, May 31, 1828
Oblation, Marseilles, November 1, 1828 (no. 33)
Died in Marseilles, April 11, 1841.
Balthazar, Joseph, Henri Paris was born in Marseilles March 21, 1804. He had almost finished his seminary studies in Marseilles and was already a subdeacon when he began his novitiate at Le Calvaire October 28, 1827, with Father Hippolyte Guibert as master of novices. He was ordained to the priesthood during his novitiate by Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, May 31, 1828 and made his oblation the following November 1.
He received his obedience for the major seminary of Marseilles where he taught Sacred Scripture from 1829 to 1838, except for 1832-1833. That year, he was sent to Notre-Dame du Laus with Father Guibert, the superior of the community. Before this date, he often asked the Founder to leave Marseilles because, as he wrote, all the Marseilles Oblates who remained in that city had left the Congregation. He added that he had not become an Oblate to be a professor. In addition to this, in 1832, he complained of Father Tempier, superior of the seminary, who compelled him to teach Sacred Scripture moral and dogmatic theology and, since he found him to be not sufficiently “clear and definite,” compelled him to undergo an examination in philosophy. Father Paris rebelled against this arrangement. He perceived philosophy as a field which contained “bizarre schemes of thought that stifled creativity, anaesthetised the imagination, dried up any feeling and conceded the power of thought only to those to whom nature had denied it…” Father Tempier does not want to take his protests into account. “He [Father Tempier], who so loves rational thinking,” wrote Father Paris to Father de Mazenod, “should at least listen to my reasoning; to see the way he takes his leave one has the impression that he fears that I will persuade him.” It was at this juncture that Father Paris spent a year at Notre-Dame du Laus, but returned to his teaching post from 1833 to 1838.
He received a personal invitation to the General Chapter celebrated in Marseilles, August 4 to 8, 1837. During his time at the major seminary, he founded the Congregation of the Victims of the Sacred Heart and drew up the constitutions for this religious institute which Bishop Eugene de Mazenod dissolved in 1847 because of its “shaky condition,” of “the illusions that prevailed there” and of “the absurd things that took place there.” These religious women were permitted to join other religious congregations or to ask to be dispensed from their vows.
Father Paris’ name only appears rarely in Oblate sources from the end of 1838 to the beginning of 1841. Father Rey (II, p. 118) tells us that he was “carried off by a swift and short illness.” According to his letters to the Founder, it seems rather that Father Paris was ill for a long period of time and was a member of the community of Le Calvaire from 1839 on. January 1, 1841, he writes that he is “ailing” and “weak” and that it is “three years” that he is carrying his cross. He added: “I still suffer a great deal from my heart ailment to the point of being able to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass only on rare occasions, and even then I faint halfway through.”
He died April 11, 1841. April 16 of that same year, Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Mille at Notre-Dame du Laus: “I am afraid that the men at Calvaire failed to inform you of the blessed death of our saintly Father Paris. He severed his ties on the night of the Resurrection after very prolonged cruel sufferings.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1837-18342 Oblate Writings I, vol. 9, no. 728, p. 168) His funeral took place at Le Calvaire the day after his death. His body was interred in the cemetery of the city of Marseilles.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.