Louis Antoine Augustin Pavy was born in Roanne (Loire) on March 18, 1805. After completing his studies at the minor and major seminaries of Lyon, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 13, 1829. He initially served as assistant priest in a few parishes and in 1837 became a professor in the faculty of theology of Lyon. Appointed bishop of Algiers on February 25, 1846 and canonically confirmed in that office on May 24, he arrived in his episcopal city in July. He raised the diocese up from the financial ruin into which Bishop Dupuch had plunged it; founded a minor and a major seminary, developed the number of parishes from 29 to 187, increased the number of diocesan priests from 48 to 273, the religious women from 87 to 800. He died on November 16, 1866.
In 1848, Bishop de Mazenod reached an agreement with Bishop Pavy to send a few Oblates to Algeria. Father Tempier went to negotiate the affair on the spot in December and already in February 1849 three priests arrived in Algeria. The Founder had written to the bishop on January 5: “It is my hope that the day will come when you will be able to use them for the conversion of the Arabs”
As soon as he arrived in Algeria, Father Viala, the superior, fell out with the bishop who had committed himself to allowing the Oblates to live in community with responsibility for the parish of Blida and providing religious service to the city hospital. Rather, he settled them at the gates of the city and he entrusted them with ministering to seven villages which were without churches. Father Viala complained to bishop Pavy who was very upset about it. Bishop de Mazenod wrote to Father Viala on March 5: “I would have wished that your too brief letter that you told me you wrote about this matter would have been more polite. One must never fail in the respect due a bishop, even when we are complaining about him.”
The Founder, in turn, sent the bishop a very polite letter reminding him of the terms of the treaty. Bishop Pavy’s reply was couched in abusive language. “It is enough to make one grieve,” he confided to Father Viala, “to see a bishop forgetting himself to this degree. I assure you that I feel less injured by the insults he has taken the liberty to level in my direction than I am pained to see a man endowed with this sacred ministry lower himself to this point. […] What are we to do now? If the issues at stake were not so vital that the salvation of souls were put in jeopardy, my course of action would have been quickly determined. But the results of a course of action that would dictate abandoning all the hope we had for the conversion of the infidels and the proper direction of a neglected Christianity needs to be pondered. Consequently, I will not make my decision while under the sway of the injustices and insults that you have endured..”
In spite of these difficulties, Bishop de Mazenod sent another four priests and one brother (see article: Algeria) but, in June of 1850, he recalled his Oblates in the wake of the conduct of Father Bellanger who squandered the goods of the Congregation, the serious accident suffered by Father Eymère, who was sent to replace Father Bellanger and, finally, a letter from Bishop Barnabò, secretary of the Congregation of the Propaganda who offered the Congregation a vicariate in South Africa in view of evangelizing the Blacks.
From that time on, Bishop de Mazenod had little contact with Bishop Pavy. Nevertheless, he wrote to him in 1853 and 1859 in answer to that bishop’s letters inquiring about ecclesiastical conferences and welfare organizations.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.