Born at Buis (Drôme).
Taking of the habit at Aix, November 16, 1823
Ordination to the priesthood at Marseilles, September 18, 1824
Oblation at Aix, November 1, 1824 (no. 19b)
Expelled from the Congregation in November 1825.
The Congregation’s archives show little trace of Bernard Vachon. He was born in Buis in the diocese of Valence, but we do not know the date of his birth. When he entered the novitiate in Aix on November 16, 1823, he claimed that he had already received the order of acolyte. It does indeed seem that he had received minor orders from Bishop Miollis, the bishop of Digne. In a few months, during his novitiate, Bishop Fortuné de Mazenod ordained him to the sub-diaconate on April 4, to the diaconate on June 12 and to the priesthood on September 18, 1824. He then made his oblation at Aix on November 1.
He lived in Aix and wanted to go as soon as possible to preach missions. Father de Mazenod sent him to take part in the mission at Saint-Bonnet, January-February 1825 in the company of Fathers Touche and Suzanne. He was upset with some remarks made to him by Father Mie about confessions. Father de Mazenod had to intervene on February 28, saying that the Rules demanded this kind of fraternal correction. “…you ought to be happy about this quite fraternal supervision which ensures your progress and preserves you from the error of illusion.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 172, p. 164)
Already during the summer, Father Vachon was thinking of leaving the Congregation. In an August 18 letter to the Founder, Father Dupuy wrote: “Father Tempier has informed you that the devil sought to enter the body of wretched Father Vachon… We think that he did not succeed and that this priest is always with us.” He was still with the Oblates in October since, on October 3, Father de Mazenod asked him to give an instruction of 20 minutes at a first Friday of the month ceremony in the church of the Mission in Aix.
However, from Rome on November 26, Father de Mazenod wrote to Father Tempier: “I fear greatly that the wretch who has just apostatized may be an accomplished scoundrel. After the short retreat that I made him make at Marseilles, he renewed his vows and gave me in writing the expression of his repentance. You must not hesitate to expel him. I give you the power to dispense him when you will have consulted the Assistants supposing, as I do, that no doubt they are of the same mind. Expel M. Vachon, he has deserved it a thousand times.” (Oblate Writings I, vol. 6, no. 208, p. 200-201)
At the beginning of 1826, Father Dupuy went to preach in the diocese of Digne. On January 14, he wrote to Father Courtès: “The bishop of Digne has placed our apostate at two leagues from Puy where we will give the mission; it is a terrible place. […] The bishop is filled with indignation against him; he consulted the archbishop of Aix and his council before putting Vachon under interdict. The archbishop of Aix and his council gave him an answer which was entirely in harmony with what he wanted to hear. The archbishop’s council has unanimously decided the validity of the vows and the interdiction of the apostate and how horrible his crime was. […] It was the bishop of Digne himself who spoke to us first of this affair and gave us all the details.”
After the name of Vachon in the Registry of entries at the novitiate, Father de Mazenod wrote: “He apostatized in an unworthy manner which leads one to suppose that he perjured himself from the day of his oblation, that is, he only entered the Congregation to get ordained to the priesthood with the set purpose of leaving as soon as he was ordained in spite of his vows and the oath that he swore.”
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.