Born at Namur (Belgium), August 1, 1836
Taking of the habit at Nancy, September 6, 1858
Oblation at Montolivet on May 27, 1860 (no. 505)
Ordination to the priesthood at Autun, July 5, 1863
Died in Paris, May 7, 1898.
Alfred François Voirin was born at Namur on August 1, 1836. In spite of the opposition of his family, he entered the novitiate of Nancy on September 6, 1858. Father Guinet, novice master, wrote about this candidate: “November 1858: He understands that to be a good missionary one must be a good religious. Consequently, he generously puts his shoulder to the wheel to combat both self-love and lack of mortification. As for the rest, the studies that he is undertaking with zeal and good results do not permit him to participate in all the novitiate exercises; December 1858. Voirin is doing well. He is seriously striving to acquire both virtue and learning… Discerning, good health, always reproaches himself for being too undisciplined and of doing nothing.” When he sent him on to Marseilles in the autumn of 1859, Father Guinet advised that he should begin his philosophical studies.
Scholastic brother Voirin studied at Montolivet from 1860 to 1862, then at Sacred Heart in Autun in 1862-1863. Father Mouchette, moderator of scholastics, was initially unhappy with him during the 1860 vacation at Lumières, but subsequently found him “generally good, regular in his observance, at least, looking at his conduct as a whole. He has good will and desires what is good… but he is hypersensitive, is too concerned about himself, does not easily accept being corrected.” At Autun in 1863, he was judged worthy of being ordained to the priesthood because he had a good spirit, was regular in his observance, worked well, was endowed with a good character, was tractable, pleasant with his confreres, is an intelligent individual, has sound judgment and speaks well, etc.
He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Jacques Jeancard at Autun on July 5, 1863 and sent to Paris where he exercised his ministry in the chapel on Saint-Pétersbourg street and ministered to the Ladies of the Holy Family and their works while at the same time preaching retreats and missions. From 1875 to 1884, he was superior of the Oblate community at Tours. In this city, he displayed a great zeal for the material and spiritual wellbeing of the soldiers. In 1879, he was also treasurer of the province Nord, provincial consulter in 1883 and provincial in 1884-1885. In 1885, he replaced Father Achille Rey as superior at Montmartre and Father Rey replaced him as provincial. For eight years, Father Voirin dedicated his zeal to finishing the construction of the basilica and the spreading of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. He established perpetual adoration, developed the arch confraternity of prayer and penance, organized the Lady Adorers, etc.
Father Voirin took part in the Chapters of 1879 and 1887 as delegate of province Nord and at the Chapter of 1893 as the delegate for British Columbia. Elected fourth assistant in 1893, he had to leave Montmartre to take up residence at the General House on Saint-Pétersbourg street. He took part in several important General Administration decisions: foundations in Australia, in Germany and in the German colonies of Africa, creation of the new diocese of Ceylon, etc.
On April 30, 1898, Father Voirin had to take to his bed because of pneumonia. He died on May 7 and was buried in the cemetery of Montmartre.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.