Born at Barcelonnette (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), April 24, 1813
Taking of the habit at St. Just, May 1, 1829
Oblation at Saint-Just, May 1, 1830 (no. 40)
Ordination to the priesthood, Aix ?, September 29, 1835 ?
Dispensed from his vows, June 9, 1844.
André Jean Valentin Valentine Reinaud was born April 24, 1813 at Barcelonnette, in the diocese of Digne, where the Oblates preached many missions. He made his novitiate at Saint-Just from May 1, 1829 to May 1, 1830. A few months after his oblation, because of the July Revolution, he left for Billens in Switzerland where the Founder had just bought a house to receive the novices and the scholastic brothers. Father Mille, who was to be appointed superior of this community, wrote before his departure from Marseilles in the month of August that he had just finished “disguising Casimir Aubert and Reinaud [for the journey]. The latter looked like a whippersnapper.”
Valentin studied theology at Billens from 1830 to 1832, then in Marseilles during 1833 and 1834. In his April 20, 1834 report on the Oblates, Father Casimir, superior of the scholastic brothers at Le Calvaire wrote: “[Brother Reinaud] whose character is basically good,” does not seem to have made much progress, “not for lack of trying on his part, but because of all the troubles into which disasters in his family have cast him. He did, indeed, moderate his petty preconceptions and has corrected himself of a number of other faults, but he still cleaves a little too much to his own ideas and still forgets himself to the extent of sometimes being too rigid in his conduct.”
At the beginning of the year 1835, he was at Aix and the Founder did not allow him to go “waste his time at the university.” In June, he was preparing himself for the diaconate and was ordained to the priesthood at Aix on September 29, In the month of August, 1835, during the cholera epidemic which raged in Aix and Marseilles, Father Aubert was sent to Notre-Dame du Laus with the novices and some scholastic brothers. He stayed there until the summer of 1836. Bishop de Mazenod entrusted Father Reinaud to him. In a January 3, 1836 letter, he wrote: “That’s why I directed young Father Reinaud amongst others towards Laus as I couldn’t bear to see him vegetating, with the sap he could furnish if the plant were given some care. I didn’t conceal my intention from him.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 554, p. 207) The following June 13, he added: “I am pleased that you have a word of praise for Father Reinaud’s budding talent. … I am happy at his successes in the hope that they will prove to be of benefit to the Congregation to which he owes his existence.” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1831-1836, Oblate Writings I, vol. 8, no. 577, p. 238) He also permitted him to go visit his family “ob duritiam cordis [because of the hardness of his heart]”
Father Reinaud then received his obedience for the major seminary of Ajaccio where he taught dogma from 1836 to 1838. On April 4, 1837 he wrote to the Founder that he was happy to see God’s blessings on the work of renewing the Corsican clergy and he added: “I am not unaware of what cunning calumniators have been able to fabricate to destroy your esteem and your friendship for me… I will limit myself to proving by my conduct of what stuff I am really made and, indeed, that is a fully dedicated member of the family, a child entirely dedicated to the one he would very much like to call his father.”
Who he really was soon became evident. In the spring of 1837, Bishop Casanelli d’Istria asked the Founder to find a replacement for Father Reinaud as professor. In a June letter, Father Guibert “discloses Father Reinaud’s rotten core.” (Diary of the Founder, June 8) Especially Father Moreau, who stood in for Father Guibert who was often absent, complained incessantly about Father Reinaud who, in the course of the summer of 1837 travelled about in the island, went fishing, also made a visit to the chief commissioner of Corsica without his superior’s knowledge, etc. The accusations became more serious in the spring of 1838. In May, Father Moreau asked Bishop de Mazenod to recall Father Reinaud to Marseilles. I would like to give you some consoling news “on his account, but I would need a miracle for that and God would not grant such a miracle because the arrogance of the individual in question is too great. It is always a question of the same arrogance, the same insubordination. It is a deliberate ploy on his part… He is always trying to develop fans among the seminarians and friends in town so that if it comes to calling him back to France, his departure would create a great to-do… My Lord, it is not my wish to play the prophet, but if you do not hasten to deliver us of this individual as astutely as possible at the end of the school year…” In his Diary entry of May 25, the Founder copied an excerpt from this letter and adds the following quote: “What could we not have expected from a subject who has not ceased following this path from the time he wrested Holy Orders from us. From that time on, he ceased to be a man of the Congregation. It is a case of a precipitate waywardness which is now bearing its fruit. May God avert the final consequences.”
Father Reinaud was recalled to Marseilles and immediately requested a dispensation from his vows in order to help his family. The Founder’s reaction was rather strong. In the July 18 entry in his Diary, he wrote: “No! never this horrible thought of breaking the sacred bonds sworn to last usque ad mortem and sealed with a formidable oath should never have entered the mind of a man committed to his duty. Moreover, Reinaud will do as he pleases, but I have clearly communicated to him that this kind of perjury would horrify me too much and the apostasy involved would be too terrible for me to want to be involved with by my acquiescence even if the excuses and the fake soporifics were more embellished than they are in the present case.”
July 20, “in a very different frame of mind,” Father Reinaud came back to see the bishop. He protested “his willingness in his situation to fulfill his duties to the best of his ability.” However, he won what he really wanted: a 600 francs annual pension for his mother confided to the care of the Sisters of St. Charles in Lyon. “What a tremendous burden for the Congregation,” the Founder wrote on October 6. “That is how it sacrifices itself for her members who are not always grateful for this and who are often imprudent as well.”
Father Reinaud stayed on in Marseilles under the watchful eyes of the bishop and Father Tempier. He taught dogma at the major seminary for four academic years running (1838 to 1842) and was at the same time chaplain at the prisons. During the summer of 1839, he accompanied the scholastic brothers to Notre-Dame de Lumières and acted in the capacity of superior “either for studies or for spiritual direction.”
On the occasion of the General Council meeting of June 9, 1844 ) we do not know what the circumstances were ) he was expelled from the Congregation and dispensed from his vows.
Shortly after his arrival in Ceylon at the end of 1847, Father Semeria met l’Abbé Reinaud who invited the Oblates to come work with him in Kandy. The Founder advised Father Semeria to maintain cordial relations with him, but to remain on his guard: “It is clear that that poor child, who left here in a mad desire to become a bishop, would gladly have made use of us as a step-ladder to reach his goal.” (Letters to Ceylon and Africa, 1837-1842, Oblate Writings I, vol. 4, no. 2, p. 4)
Indeed, Abbé Reinaud sent a memorandum to the Propaganda Fide in 1848 and travelled to Europe in 1849. He suggested that the Propaganda set up three vicariates in Ceylon and entrust the vicariate of Kandy to the Oblates. That is what he told Bishop de Mazenod who offered him hospitality at the bishop’s palace. He did not dare tell the bishop his complete plan, but rather went to see Father Casimir Aubert in England and informed him that he would be ready to rejoin the congregation if he was made bishop of Kandy and the vicariate was entrusted to the Oblates. It was his hope that Bishop de Mazenod would lend his support to this project in Rome. Bishop de Mazenod related all these details to Father Semeria in 1849, telling him that on November 10 the Pope created only two vicariates. It was a disappointed Father Reinaud who returned to Kandy and Kandy remained under the jurisdiction of the vicariate of Colombo.
In 1852, Father Semeria hoped to send some Oblates into the region of Kandy. On April 26, the Founder reminded him to maintain cordial relationships with Father Reinaud, but not to forget that “he is a clever fellow who thinks above all of his own interests.” (Letters to Ceylon and Africa, 1847-1860 , Oblate Writings I, vol. 4, no. 72, p. 95)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.