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Melchior Marion de Brésillac, S.M.A.

 (2 December 1813 – 25 June 1859)

The cause of our Founder

Prayer for his Canonisation

220px Melchior de Marion BrsillacMonsignor Marion de Bresillac was born in Castlenaudry, from southern France in 1813. He joined the seminary of his home-diocese Carcassonne to become a priest and was ordained on December 22, 1838. Three years, he was serving at his home parish of Saint-Michel in Castlenaudary. However, he wanted to dedicate his life as missionary; he requested his bishop to release him to follow his missionary call.  His father was also not in favour to this young priest-son going for missions. Bresillac discerned and determined to be a missionary. With the permission from the bishop, he joined the MEP house at Paris, preparing himself for missions. Finally, his father consented the desire of his son, “Go, my dear, dear son, Go where Heaven is calling you. I now recognise the Voice that summons you. May He protect you. Be happy. I submit”.

In 1842, he was sent to India. After 3 months of sea voyage, He reached the Pondicherry shores on 24th July 1852 along with his confreres.

After initial preparation in Tamil and culture, he was sent to Salem, his first mission station.  He participated the first synod of Pondicherry in 1844. Then he was appointed as superior of the minor seminary at Pondicherry. Still today, this school continues to exist with its name “Petite Seminary”.  At the creation of Coimbatore vicariate, Marion de Bresillac was appointed to be its Vicar Apostolic. Though much reluctant to this election, he humbly submitted to it.

In all these dramatic changes and developments, Bresillac kept the spirit of establishing a strong indigenous Church with its own native clergy. During his 12 years in India, his progressive ideas were not received well and conflicts on many matters in missions made him to resign his post. He left India in 1856.

Yet pursuing his passion for mission, with the permission of Rome, he founded a missionary society to serve Africa and its people. With this Charism, the SMA (Society of African Mission) was founded in on December 8, 1856 in Lyon, France 1856.  After setting the society, he spent two years recruiting young men and its necessary establishments. The new missionary society was confided with the Vicariate of Sierra Leone. First group of missionaries were sent and then Bresillac with two more confreres set sail to Sierra Leone, West Africa in 1859.  In those days, Sierra Leone was known as the “graveyard of Europeans” due to the ravaging yellow fever epidemic; to this sickness, within six weeks of arrival to the new mission land, all missionaries died; Bresillac died on 25th June 1859 at the age of 46. It was devastating news and great loss for the Society; however, many more men were willing to follow the footsteps of Marion de Bresillac. Under the guidance and leadership of Fr Augustine Planque, the new society existence was firmly assured to continue the missionary vision of its Founder.