Born: Rians (Var), France, July 8, 1827.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 20, 1850.
Vows: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 21, 1849 (N. 291).
Priestly ordination: Marseilles, February 15, 1842.
Died: Jaffna, Ceylon, November 10, 1882.
Jean-Baptiste Léon Pélissier was born in Rians, diocese of Fréjus, France, on July 8, 1827. Having finished secondary studies in Brignolles and two years theology in the major seminary in Fréjus, he began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on November 20, 1849 and he took vows there on November 21, 1850. At the end of his novitiate, Father Jacques Santoni, novice master, wrote in a report: “This novice is always well behaved; solid virtue, good judgement, sufficiently talented, health somewhat weak”. The Brother then spent two years at the major seminary in Marseilles and Bishop de Mazenod ordained him to the priesthood on February 15, 1852. In a report made in April 1852, the moderator of scholastics, Father Jean Marchal judges him rather severely: During his time in Marseilles, the Brother “did not make any serious mistakes, but he not show zeal or dedication. Greater effort at punctuality would be appreciated and more openness to direction as well as greater devotion to study. He is quite good with his confreres.”
Father Pélissier left for Ceylon with Constant Chounavel, on April 25, 1852, and he arrived in Jaffna at the end of September. At the beginning he was assistant to Father Frédéric Mouchel in Kalpity and then, in 1853 he was with Father Joseph Vivier in Mantotte. In 1854 he was placed in charge of the mission in Valikamam and its outstations. He spent many years in Point Pedro where he built a church. In 1873 he became pastor of Trincomalee and then towards the end of his life, he ministered in Jaffna cathedral. It was there that he became ill. He developed cerebral fever and died on November 10, 1882. He is buried in the cemetery of Saint Mary’s parish.
On the occasion of his death an article in the Jaffna Catholic Guardian said: “Everybody who was acquainted with Father knew how kindhearted he was, and how determined he was never to back away from his duties. His spirit of justice with regard to everybody, his indomitable zeal to reform the habits of those committed to his pastoral care and his dedication during the many outbreaks of cholera, earned him the deep respect of the Catholic population in general, and especially of the faithful for whom he was director in the Christian way of life.”
In his necrology note, Father Joseph Fabre wrote: “his effervescent temperament made it more difficult for him than for others to conquer his independent spirit, but he was respectful in the face of authority and even tempered with his brothers.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.