The colorful Adrien Telmon, the third in the foundation community of the mission in Corsica was born in 1807, and made his oblation as an Oblate in 1826, being ordained a priest in 1830. Yvon Beaudoin tells is the story:
“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.”
Of a rebellious and impulsive disposition, at the very outset he began to be a source of worry for his superiors.
Following the 1830-1831 school year, Father Telmon became part of the community of Notre-Dame du Laus until 1834. It was an experience he did not enjoy. He found the climate in Marseilles too hot and Laus too cold.
At Laus where Father Hippolyte Guibert was the superior, Father Telmon was teaching Sacred Scripture to some of the scholastic brothers and preaching missions. But there was little demand for parish missions after the Revolution of 1830.
However, in 1834, Bishop Casanelli d’Istria, the Bishop of Ajaccio handed his major seminary over to the direction of the Oblates. The Founder suggested Father Guibert as superior of the institution and announced that he would be accompanied by “a dogma professor, a talented man with a good grasp of Sacred Scripture and the ceremonies of the liturgy,” that is, Father Telmon. They arrived in Corsica at the beginning of 1835 and Father Telmon taught dogma from 1834 to 1837 and, at the same time, during Advent and Lent, accompanied Father Albini preaching parish missions. Both his preaching and his teaching were successful. His preaching was much appreciated by the public.”
We will be reading a lot more about this zealous missionary in the future: how he was part of the first group of Oblates going to Canada, and then founder of the Texas mission in the USA.
He died in France in 1878
In Father Telmon’s obituary, Father Soulerin stressed especially his talent as an orator and his zeal. He wrote: “He was an orator, a compelling speaker. His success in the pulpit was due to his diversified learning and his thorough knowledge of Sacred Scripture, making judicious application of Scripture texts as called for by the circumstances, along with the novel and ingenious conclusions he drew, his flow of words and elocution was outstanding, as well as the pleasing quality of his voice and his physical appearance. His speech was not flamboyant; there was none of that showiness which comes from style and gesture, but it was solid, enlightening, winning and simple with the poor, of a noble simplicity with the educated. His ability was such that he could in some way or other improvise on any subject whatever […] He would not have achieved such fine success without having been a man of zeal, sacrifice, self-denial, faith, piety, charity, of love of the Church and the Congregation. Truly, it was a touching scene [in Texas] to see him forgetful of himself in every respect, take on the most onerous task, thinking only of building a fitting abode for our Divine Savior, to achieve a splendid liturgy, to lavish upon souls the most earnest care, literally pursuing the lost sheep, taking his sometimes inadequate meals very late in the day, stooping to carry out the most humble household chores when the poor lay brother was overloaded with work. How often did we not see him at the end of the day vomit blood or collapse from fatigue and to fall asleep on the floor of his cell or in his chair until far into the night. Nevertheless, he was at meditation when morning came. He would offer Holy Mass, make his thanksgiving, after which, before turning his attention to his breakfast, he had already planned out all the details of the coming day…”