Do you really mean, my dear friend, to ask from me the dimissorial letters of Telmon for his tonsure? For a youngster who has given us grief up until a day or so ago…

Letter to Hippolyte Courtès, 24 November 1824, EO VI n 159

Today we come across Adrien Telmon for the first time. He was one of the more colorful characters of our Oblate history. We will have many opportunities to encounter his burning zeal, his missionary exploits and his at-times eccentric behavior. Eugene had perceived Telmon’s goodness and ability from the age of 15, and had stood by him in stormy times – while at times being rather harsh and realistic in bringing him down from the clouds.

Yovon Beaudoin writes in the Historical Dictionary: Adrien Telmon was born in Barcelonnette, dioceses of Gap, September 8, 1807, son of Madeleine Caire and François Telmon, carpenter. He received a deeply Christian education, due in large part to an aunt who was a religious living with her family because of ill health. He was allowed to receive First Holy Communion at the age of nine and, it seems, “he plunged into his studies with such enthusiasm and such success that at fourteen he had finished his Latin studies.” (Notices nécrologiques III, p. 499)

Following the mission preached at Barcelonnette by the Founder and his confreres from April 20 to May 20, 1822, Adrien followed the missionaries to Aix. Bishop de Mazenod wrote in his diary under the entry of May 1, 1837:

“I snatched him, so to speak, from the cradle during our parish mission at Barcelonnette. How old was he at the time? Fifteen or sixteen, I do not know. Anyway, he was not even knee-high. He looked like a little child. Nevertheless, I took him under my wing and always considered him as my own son. I saw to all his needs and saw to it that he received an education. Finally, I welcomed him into the Society and so I led him right up to the priesthood in spite of the fact that he did cause me some concern during his years in vows and on one occasion he fled the house at Aix.”


“Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” Earl Wilson

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    There were a lot of distractions for me today with this posting – I found myself looking up the meaning of “dimissorial letters” and then “tonsure” which led me further away from Eugene and young Adrien. Coming back I simply struggled with it. My thoughts strayed to an Oblate that I heard speak several times this past weekend who shared in a very general way his struggle over a period of time to say yes to what God was calling him to.

    Then I thought back to Madonna House and being there, 30 years or so ago. Unlike Adrien who followed the missionaries back to Aix and who had completed much of his schooling and was quite knowledgeable of many things religious and spiritual, my arrival and stay was full of “unknowns”. I had recently come from a life that was filled with drugs and alcohol, crime and violence and much worse. I had also recently come from a conversion experience that change my universe. “I took him under my wing and always considered him as my own son.” At Madonna House I was taken under the wing of more than a few and loved, oh how I was loved. I used to say that “there I was loved into being” so that I could become a human being. Such great love was I treated with, as a daughter and a sister of many. As I said I was no Adrien, for I know that I was not easy to love. And yet I was loved so very greatly – not just directly by God but by this awesome group of people.

    From Madonna House a few years later I came to Ottawa and to an Oblate parish called St. Joe’s, and yes there too I was give a new family. It was here that I started to grow as a person, as a human being and as a Christian. And even as I write these words I realise what I am saying, acknowledging. The love that I have received, over and over again! The struggle that I have been experiencing in the past while and the many, oh my God, the many who have stood by and walked with and still not given up, the fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters God has given to me.

    I am a little awed and grateful this morning, and excited at what lies ahead – with Adrien’s story and my own.

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