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Childhood:
    Henri Louis Joseph Chaumont was born on 11th December 1838, to the parents Mr. Pierre Chaumont and Mrs. Anne Korstan. He was brought up with a deep Christian faith and in a very good atmosphere of love and charity by his parents. Little Henri had good intellect, a loving and very sensitive soul, responded so well to the teachings of his parents. His favourite reading was the ‘Annals of the Propagation of faith’. On reading it he was very much touched and he resolved to work for the conversion of the non-Christian women. He used to say “I want to be a Priest, a missionary and a Martyr”.

    At the age of twelve, Henri received first Holy Communion and later he said “On the day of my First Holy Communion I received two invaluable graces. God’s only Son Jesus and the grace of meeting the priest who was to be my spiritual guide, until nearly the end of my life.”

The crisis:
    In the church, on hearing a sermon (Mt. 24:44) from the parish priest, he was terrified and wanted to go for confession every now and then. The thought that he would be damned and eternally lost. He suffered terribly out of these scruples. His father wisely decided upon a technical apprenticeship for him, instead of allowing him to join the seminary. It lasted for four years. Finally, prayer, patience and time healed and brought him relief.

Minor seminary:
    Henri Chaumont entered the minor seminary with new life. As he was sixteen, much elder than his companions, he practiced humility and worked hard without wasting even a minute and got through successfully.

Major seminary at Issy:
    It was here that Fr. Chaumont was influenced by the Letters of St. Francis de Sales which were read as spiritual reading at table. In the seminary Fr. Chaumont meditated more and more on the future responsibilities of a life completely dedicated to God’s service and to the service of souls. It was the study on the ‘Acts of the Apostles’ that enlightened him and gave orientation for his future ministry.

His ordination to Priesthood:
    Fr. Chaumont was ordained priest on 17th January 1864, at the age of 25.

His Apostolate:
Fr.Henri-Chaumont     Fr. Chaumont was appointed as an assistant at St. Marcel’s church. He was convinced that knowledge of moral was very important to direct souls. He reserved a time for studies together with the study on his spiritual master, St. Francis de Sales. He used to prepare sermons according to the standard of the audience. Noticing that, during the day the church looked deserted, he grouped a few fervent souls for practice of devotion. This helped him to establish the annual feast of the perpetual adoration. People of all walks of life joined the group of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Chaumont spoke about the pitiable condition of non-Christian women who were their sisters and asked for a crusade of prayer on their behalf.

    As Fr. Chaumont could meet only a few people in the church, he understood the need of meeting the poor in their dirty dwellings. He was gifted for conversation, had a lively voice and a welcoming smile. He made use of his own father to give talks to the people on a subject adapted to the taste and intelligence of the people and this was followed by Fr. Chaumont on a religious topic. Between the two, his brother Ernest used to play the key- Board and make the people to sing. Father Chaumont wanted to reach out to all the poor workers who lived in huts on the suburb and who would never go to church. He went through their streets and by paths several times to meet them. He found the condition of the souls very poor. They knew nothing about any of the sacraments. Fr. Chaumont won the hearts of all by his cheerfulness, cordiality and generous devotedness. He was available at any time, even the night calls. It was in such moments as these that the young priest realized the greatness of his priesthood.

At the confessional:
    He proved to be a master at the confessional. He was very punctual. Fr. Chaumont says, “I would rather die than miss a single day in my confessional by my fault”. No wonder that the number of his penitents went on increasing and that the hours devoted to this duty became a heavy burden until the day of his death. There were trials even at the confessional but the precocious maturity and the zeal for this work was enforced by spending long hours at the foot of the tabernacle.

    Preaching a retreat to the priests of St. Francis de sales, Fr. Chaumont told them the place where a priest learns to understand the mind of the penitent. “It was at the altar of our daily Mass, in the Heart of Jesus who teaches us how to live and how to heal souls.” How often coming from the altar, the director gets a sudden insight into a soul who until then unable to express its difficulty. Fr. Chaumont was steeped in the doctrine of St. Francis de sales. His spirit & enthusiasm led him to find many Societies and Associations.

  •      Association - St. Francis de Sales
  •      Priests of St. Francis de Sales
  •      Association for Christian Women
  •      Association for Christian Widows
  •      Association for Christian Teachers
  •      Society of the Sons of St. Francis de sales

Faithfulness to spiritual direction:
    In all his spiritual works Fr. Chaumont was helped, encouraged and guided by Fr.De Segur who had a special love for the Salesian Societies. Fr. Chaumont, had never taken any serious decision without previously consulting Fr. Segur. After his death he chose Fr. Tissot, the Superior General of the Missionaries of Saint Francis de sales (MSFS) as his second spiritual director after praying earnestly to the Holy Spirit.

The end:
    In spite of his heavy work, Fr. Chaumont was in complete possession of himself, with his winning qualities of gentleness, humility and self – denial. Up to the end, even when he celebrated the Holy Mass, he said consciously and had been preceded by long mental prayer, the source of his energy. The time of praying the divine office was sacred to him.

    In his visits to the Salesian groups, he always insisted that the ‘Family Spirit’ should be well preserved.

    His hypertrophic heart made a martyrdom of his life. He was neither able to walk nor to lie down and was obliged to spend the nights in an arm-chair. Though often unable to take food he liked to be present at the community meals. On May 15th, 1896 he became delirious, repeating incoherently the words, “apostolate” and “charity”. He received the anointing of the sick whole heartedly. He breathed his last at 11.30pm on May 15th, 1896, at the age of fifty eight.

    On his tomb-stone, are engraved the words of St. Paul which epitomized his life: “I will be glad to spend all I have and myself as well, in order to help you”.

    ‘Apostolic zeal’ as described by St. Francis de Sales in his Treatise on the love of God, was the distinctive quality of Fr. Chaumont. The apostolic zeal is intensely active; it is gentle, painstaking, equally obliging and tireless for apostolic zeal is based on mental prayer and deep union with God.

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