Born: Serres-Castet, Basses-Pyrénées, November 12, 1819.
Took the habit: N.-D. de l’Osier, November 30, 1848.
Vows: Marseilles, February 17, 1850 (N. 270).
Priestly ordination: Marseilles, February 15, 1852.
Died: Brownsville, Texas, July 18, 1892.
Étienne Vignolle was born in Serres-Castet, diocese of Bayonne, France, on November 12, 1819. He began his novitiate in Notre-Dame de l’Osier on November 30, 1848, and took vows in Marseilles on February 17, 1850. Father Ambroise Vincens, master of novices, sent him to the scholasticate in 1849 before he had made vows and gave the following reason for doing so: “Vignolle, sufficiently solid virtue… he also seems to have sufficient intelligence…; his talents are almost completely negatived by an excessive shyness which makes him seem almost stupid…” In the meeting of the general council on October 21, approval for his promotion to vows was postponed in order to ascertain “his aptitude and his ability in the examination which he would have to do.” He was admitted on January 4, 1850 “having given satisfaction in the examinations he did and having given sufficient proof of good behaviour and common sense.” In a report made in April 1852, Father Jean Marchal, moderator of scholastics, wrote that the Brother had suffered because of the delay in his admission to vows and the studies, which he found too difficult but that “for the rest of the time, he was joyful, good, charitable. He was now esteemed. He did the examinations, which showed that he was more intelligent than had been thought. I believe that he is a good religious and that he has a solid piety.”
He was ordained priest by Bishop de Mazenod on February 15, 1852 and he left immediately for Texas with five fellow priests and a Brother. He began to exercise his ministry among the French-speaking Catholics in Galveston and then, in 1855-1857, he was treasurer and spiritual director in the seminary-college of the town. He spent most of his life in Brownsville but he also ministered in Victoria and in Matamoros where he spent some days in prison in 1866 and in 1877.
His name does not often appear in Oblate sources. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the mission in Texas, he was one of the three survivors of the first Oblate team there. In an address by the pupils of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word to the Oblates in 1900, Father Vignolle is spoken of as “our zealous missionary” (Missions OMI, 38, 1900, p. 197).
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.