- Superior at Tours and Paris (1867-1885)
- Provincial (1873-1879), (1885-1893) and Superior at Pontmain from 1893 to 1899
- Paris and Liège (1900-1911)
Born at Briançon (Hautes- Alpes), October 18, 1828
Taking of the habit at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1844
Oblation at Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 15, 1845 (no. 139)
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, November 16, 1851
Died at Lièges, April 27, 1911.
Achille Yves Laurent Rey was born at Briançon, diocese of Gap, October 18, 1828, son of Élisabeth Bérard and Jean-Baptiste Rey, recording officer and district collector of property taxes. After a few years in elementary school, he attended the university college of his city from 1837 to 1841. It was at that time that he made the acquaintance of Father François Bremond and followed him to the juniorate in Lumières where he studied from the fall of 1841 up until his entry into the novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier, August 14, 1844. After his oblation on August 15, 1845, he spent a year studying philosophy at Notre-Dame de l’Osier and then studied theology at the major seminary of Marseilles from the autumn of 1846 until his ordination to the priesthood on November 16, 1851.
He spent ten years at the major seminary in Marseilles as staff member and professor of philosophy from 1851-1853, as professor of dogma from 1853 to 1855 and of moral theology from 1855 to 1861. He taught moral theology at the scholasticate of Montolivet from 1861-1862, and then took up residence in Paris from 1862 to 1867 as special secretary to Father Joseph Fabre, Superior General. In this capacity, he accompanied Father Fabre to Rome in 1862 and to England in 1866. He founded the review, Missions O.M.I., and remained its director until 1867.
Superior at Tours and Paris (1867-1885)
At the urging of Mr. Dupont, the holy man of Tours, Bishop Hippolyte Guibert, archbishop of Tours from 1857 to 1871, endeavoured to revive devotion to Saint Martin and partially reconstructed the building that housed his remains, a building almost entirely destroyed during the time of the French Revolution. Some houses were bought and an interim chapel was built while awaiting the construction of a basilica. Abbé Beaumont, the first chaplain of the shrine, died in 1867. Bishop Guibert appealed to the Oblates to find a replacement and Father Fabre sent him Father Rey as superior of the community. Father Rey remained in Tours until 1876 (superior from 1867 to 1873). With the help of his confreres, he revived the devotion of the faithful to Saint Martin, launched a fund raising campaign and began the construction of the basilica.
Bishop Guibert, archbishop of Paris from 1871 to 1886, was also urged to build the basilica of the Sacred Heart in Montmartre, as a monument of public atonement for the country. After having chosen the site and built an interim chapel, Bishop Guibert, created cardinal in 1873, appealed to the Oblates once again and, in particular to Father Rey in virtue of his office as superior of the community of chaplains. Father Rey held that office from 1876 to 1885. Seconded by his confreres, Fathers Gustave Giroud, Alfred Yenveux, Joseph Amorès, Louis Berthelon and Brother Félix Viossat, he was very active. He fostered the growth of the pilgrimage movement, established perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, founded several organizations such as the archconfraternity of the national pledge, the holy league of the national pledge, the association of prayer for the clergy, etc. They launched a fund raising campaign and began the construction of the basilica.
Provincial (1873-1879), (1885-1893) and Superior at Pontmain from 1893 to 1899
Father Rey led the province Nord of France from 1873 to 1879 and from 1885 to 1893. During his second mandate, he took up residence at Notre-Dame de Sion. When he was not travelling about visiting the houses of the province, he was preaching parish retreats or was ministering to pilgrims and juniors at the juniorate.
After his years as provincial, he was appointed superior at Pontmain from 1893 to 1899. There, just as at Tours and Paris, through his enthusiasm, he contributed to developing this pilgrimage site which had begun in 1871 when the Blessed Virgin appeared to four children. He had to go begging for money to finish the construction of the basilica, in particular, to build two towers and to buy an expensive bell.
In the three pilgrimage places where he was in charge, Father Rey distinguished himself by his organizational skills, his entrepreneurial spirit, his zealous ministry of hearing confessions, his patience and his cordiality in his relations with the pilgrims. “This same kindness,” wrote his biographer, “accompanied him to the pulpit into which he stepped quite readily. His good academic background and his rare speaking talent which was a gift from heaven, made easy for him to exercise this important and demanding part of the priestly ministry. His speech was simple, lucid, warm, communicative, the genuine speech of a popular preacher. His words were conveyed to the ears of his hearers by a voice that was full, clear and mellow. It enlightened and stirred souls…”
Paris and Liège (1900-1911)
When he left Pontmain, Father Rey was called to Paris where he remained from 1899 to 1904 and functioned as assistant general from 1900-1904 after the death of Father Joseph Eugene Antoine. In his lifetime, he took part in seven General Chapters (1867, 1873, 1879, 1887, 1893, 1898, 1904).
In 1904, in the wake of the preceding year’s rejection of a request for government approval, the Oblates were expelled from the general house on Saint-Pétersbourg street. Father Rey, old and sick, was given an obedience to the scholasticate at Liège. That is where he spent the last days of his life, edifying the scholastic brothers by his regular observance of the house rules, his life of prayer and his affability. It was also there that he died on April 27, 1911. In the course of the final fifteen years of his life, he composed the impressive biography of Bishop de Mazenod which was published, however, only in 1923.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.