From now on we will regularly be coming across names of Oblates who were influential in the life and mission of the Congregation. As we encounter them for the first time, I will write something about them so that “Letter to Fr…..” will make more sense and the addressee is seen as a member of the Mazenodian Family and not just a name. Today I would ;like to introduce you to Fr. Louis Toussaint Dassy.

He was born in Marseilles, and at the age of 20 entered the major seminary, which was under the direction of the Oblates. A year later he joined the Oblates and was ordained in 1831. As a result of the Revolution of July 1830 his first years were spent as a preacher of parish missions in Switzerland.

From 1834 we will be reading about him as he was at the newly-established Shrine of Notre Dame de l’Osier, the fifth house of the Oblates.

Yvon Beaudoinn writes: “He soon began to display the wide range of his talents: ministering to the pilgrims during the summer, preaching parish missions, close collaboration with the superior in the work of repairing the convent and the construction of a lodging house for the pilgrims, the writing of some works on history and archaeology, etc. Intelligent, learned, enterprising, he succeeded in everything he undertook and completed his tasks with dispatch.”

This talented Oblate then worked in various Oblate foundations in France until 1853 when he was appointed to the Calvaire in Marseilles. Beaudoin continues the story:

Founder of the Institute of Young Blind People and of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate (1857)

During his apostolate at Le Calvaire and his preaching at Marseilles, Father Dassy encountered a number of blind people. He stated that he had counted over 200 in the city, many of whom were children. Already in 1853, he wanted to set up an organization to address the needs of these poor wretches. On June 29, 1857, he laid out his plans before Bishop de Mazenod. He requested permission to take up residence in the Oblate community of Notre-Dame de la Garde and to carry out the apostolate to the young blind people which he wanted to establish at the foot of the hill. In a few years, the work flourished; a large institution was built and a religious congregation established…

Indeed, May 17, 1858, Father Dassy, well known through articles in journals and some works on the history of the Church and the religious monuments of Marseilles was elected to the academy of Marseilles. There he took his place beside his older brother, Joseph, a painter and curator of the city’s museum. In 1866, Abbé Dassy was appointed permanent secretary of this academy. In 1886, he received the cross of the Legion of Honour.

Certainly a colorful and gifted man. More details can be found in: https://www.omiworld.org/lemma/dassy-louis-toussaint/

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I have enjoyed meeting Fr. Dassy, this morning. I have read bits and pieces about him before and today I found myself going to the Historical Dictionary to become better acquainted with him.

    A piece from Fr. Dassy’s letter to Eugene de Mazenod in 1845, about his about his relationship with his Superior Fr. Vincens really struck me, connected with me. He wrote: “He ends his letter by saying: “I believe that no greater understanding could exist than that which reigns between him and I. I tell him everything I have to say. On no account does he spares my sensibilities. There is something to sanctify both of us here. Besides, he is so good hearted, so patient…”

    ‘There is something to sanctify both of us here.’ It speaks to me of community, the richness of community. There is in family a place for each and none will ever look exactly the same. It is the shared bonds of love which keep us united, the charism which we share with each other. It was only last night that my dear friend Gail and I were talking about community and how we come to see and know ourselves in and with each other.

    I think of some in the community, in the family and with whom our personalities collide – yes I love him or her but how do I live that? Is it reduced only to a nice ‘safe’ spiritual love or is it lived and real? I think fondly of some of the members of our Mazenodian Family who have been able to ‘push all of my buttons’, or who I have struggled with – some who challenged me simply by being the person they were created to be; I laugh softly as their images come before me for they are the very ones that I love and loved the most.

    What an exciting and awesome journey that we share in together.

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