orn at Embrun (Hautes-Alpes), May 26, 1805
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame du Laus, December 1, 1831
Oblation at Notre-Dame du Laus November 13, 1832 (no. 51)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, April 6, 1833
Expelled from the Congregation, August 2, 1840
Parish priest in the diocese of Gap from 1841 to 1886
Died on February 21, 1886.
Jacques, Antoine, André Pélissier was born at Embrun, diocese of Gap, on May 26, 1805. He made his novitiate at Notre-Dame du Laus under the direction of Father H. Guibert, Master of Novices and Superior from December 1, 1831 to November 13, 1832. Bishop Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Icosia, ordained him to the priesthood at Marseilles on April 6, 1833.
He ministered for some time at Le Calvaire under the direction of Father Casimir Aubert. In an April 20, 1834 report on the scholastic brothers and the young fathers, Father Aubert wrote that Father Pélissier had left Le Calvaire. He gained little from his stay there “because of his personality which was almost apathetic with a kind of idiosyncratic twist as well.”
Father Pélissier remained a member of the community of Aix until 1837. In 1836, he no longer wanted “to do a work of charity for poor sick folk, or even to instruct little children in the gospel…” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 596, p. 262-262) In January of 1837, Father Courtès wrote that he saw in this priest inclinations toward apostasy. In his Diary entry of January 11, the Founder noted that Father Pélissier “is one of those that Blessed Liguori used to call pietre smosse [unstable building blocks]; they almost always fall down in the end.”
In February of 1837, Father Pélissier was sent to Notre-Dame du Laus where Father Mille had just been appointed superior. Since he was not a good preacher, Father Pélissier ministered to the pilgrims. At first, he seemed to like his situation. He wrote and asked that “they overlook his native inflexibility of character which he calls his outspokenness, resolved as he is to work more seriously than ever at gaining self-knowledge and to set no impediment to his spiritual growth.” (Diary Mazenod, April 14, 1837) For his part, Father Honorat at Laus at the time “gave good testimony concerning Father Pélissier who has a will to do well and is happy at the sanctuary. He should not try to rush him, trust him, etc.” (Diary Mazenod, May 10, 1837)
Father Pélissier only remained at Laus for a few months. He refused to obey Father Mille. They sent him to Notre-Dame de l’Osier. September 8, 1837, he wrote to the Founder to say that he was very edified by the community and he hoped to draw benefit for his own perfection. These good dispositions did not last. One week later on September 15, Bishop de Mazenod noted once again in his Diary: “Father Pélissier is at l’Osier such as he was in other places…; his apathetic character is invincible.” Father Guigues was putting up with him, but was complaining about him. In the January 22-23 entry of his Diary, the Founder recorded this sad and terrible thought: “Sad news on Father Pélissier. His mindless disregard is boundless; he will not put himself out in any way, taking on works of zeal only when they appeal to him and inconvenience him in no way… He is a walking corpse. He has no zeal, no conscience. He is growing fatter, that is all.”
At l’Osier, Father Pélissier was put in charge of the parish. He paid the parish little attention and stated that he had not become an Oblate to be a parish priest. In an important letter dated May 30, 1839, Bishop de Mazenod refuted this principle and said: “Only offending God is adverse to the Congregation. Everything else falls under obedience.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1837-18342 Oblate Writings I, vol. 9, no. 693, p. 126)
In June of 1840, Father Pélissier was sent to Notre-Dame du Laus to help the priests there during the summer pilgrimages, but they warned him that he would subsequently be recalled to Marseilles. This prospect made him panic. He left Laus and withdrew to his family home from where he wrote to ask to be dispensed from his vows. August 2, 1840, the General Council in session made the unanimous decision to expel him.
Subsequently, l’Abbé Pélissier was appointed parish priest in the diocese of Gap: at Embrun from 1841 to 1848, at Crottes from 1848 to 1871 and at Baratier from 1871 to 1886. It was there that he died on February 21, 1886.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.