Born at Gap, November 19, 1804.
Taking of the habit at Notre Dame du Laus, October 17, 1821.
Oblation, Aix, March 10, 1826. (no. 20)
Ordination to the priesthood, Marseilles, August 12, 1827.
Died at Ajaccio, January 7, 1837.

Joseph Laurent Richaud was born in Gap, November 19, 1804. He studied at the college in his native city where he made the acquaintance J.A.M. Martin, J.E.B. Guigues and V.A. Arnoux, young men like himself. During school vacations, he made a few pilgrimages to the shrine of Our Lady of Laus, six miles from Gap. During the summer of 1819, subsequent to the installation of the Oblates as chaplains at this shrine, these young men were welcomed by Father H. Tempier. They later took to corresponding with Fathers Touche and Moreau whom they met as well at Gap. Brothers Guigues and Martin began their novitiate at Laus on August 2, 1821. Joseph Laurent followed in their footsteps the following October 17.

Brother Richaud followed the novices to Aix where the novitiate was established in the autumn of 1822. Ordinarily, he should have made his oblation in 1823 like Brothers Guigues, Martin and Arnoux had done. He did this only on March 10, 1826. Had he refused to commit himself definitively at an earlier date, or had he been held back because there were some doubts with regard to his perseverance? On July 24, 1824, the Founder wrote to Father Courtès that he allowed Brother Richaud to go home: “It was to be feared that he would make up his own mind if you refused him permission to travel; it is nonetheless true that this is a pernicious example, especially as there is no plausible motive to excuse it…” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1814-1825, Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 147, p. 147) The writer of the obituary notice gives another explanation. Bishop F. A. Arbaud was named bishop of Gap in 1823. It was only very grudgingly that he allowed the young men of his diocese to become Missionaries of Provence. It was only on May 9, 1825 that he sent the dimissorial letters for Brother Richaud to be admitted to the sub-diaconate. It was only after that that Joseph Laurent. made his perpetual vows before Father Courtès on March 10, 1826, following the approbation of the Congregation by Rome. Consequently, he was the first to write Oblate of Mary Immaculate after his name on the oblation formula.

He was ordained to the priesthood at Marseilles by Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod, August 12, 1827. He worked as missionary, first in Aix and then at Notre Dame du Laus from 1831 to 1835. For the fifth General Chapter held in Marseilles from September 28 to 30, 1831, he was the elected delegate of his community of Notre Dame du Laus. He was sent to the major seminary of Ajaccio for the school year of 1835-1836. The superior of the seminary, Father Guibert, who had known Father Richaud at Notre Dame du Laus, thanked the Founder: “I wholeheartedly desired the coming of that fine Father Richaud […] I needed no one to sing me the praises of the one you are sending. He is an acquaintance of long-standing. He is a man of solid virtue, common sense, level-headed and discreet.”

At the beginning of January 1837, Father Richaud who was treasurer at the seminary at the time, had to travel to Vico on business. The author of the obituary notice wrote: “ He left early in the morning on horseback in the company of one of the house’s hired help who was supposed to accompany him as an advisor. They took the Sanguinaires road. Initially, everything went very well. Encouraged by this success, the young priest made the mistake of distancing himself from his companion. What happened? His horse shied, perhaps frightened by an unusual occurrence. Was the horse unsettled by some awkward handling by his inexpert rider? No witness was present to tell us about it. Perceiving that the Oblate priest had not returned, the employee went to look for him and finally found him unconscious at the edge of the road while his mount was grazing quietly on the grass of the nearby slope. How devastating it was when the people at the seminary saw their beloved confrere carried home on a stretcher in a very sorry state. Summoned in great haste, the doctor discovered symptoms that led him to fear that there were internal injuries in the area of the loins and the brain. The injured man died the next day after having recovered consciousness for a few hours during which time he gave his Oblate confreres an excellent example through his resignation and his trust in God. The date was January 7, 1837.”

It was a few days later, through letters from Fathers Guibert and Reinaud, that the Founder learned of the accident and subsequent death. On the 11 (or perhaps the 15), he wrote to Father Guibert: “I have just offered Holy Mass for the good Father about whose death you have informed me in your last letter. I shall weep for him all my life as for those who have preceded him into eternity, over whose loss I am inconsolable. How could I not grieve over such a good priest who had been brought up under my care since his very early childhood, who had quite recently given to our family such a beautiful example of devotedness in volunteering to go along with you and your companions and work for Corsica’s reformation, who was gifted with such a gentle and affable character, with whom it was so pleasant to live! But what good does it do to keep our sorrow alive when, to suppress it one has only to think of the reward the Lord will have granted him for his fidelity and for all the good he had wished to accomplish. […] I share all your sorrow … he was so much at home where he was! He was so agreeable to you! It was a relief for me to know that he was there with you! I counted on his wisdom, his kindness, his common sense, his orderly spirit, his devotedness. What an atrocious loss!” (Letters to the Oblates of France, 1837-1842, Oblate Writings I, vol. 9, no. 601, p. 6-7)

Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.