Jean Sulivan: Prophetic Voice with an important message for the Irish Church
The French priest writer Jean Sulivan (1913-1980), whose real name was Joseph Lemarchand, was born in the small village of Montauban-de-Bretagne. He lost his father in the trenches of the Great War, an event that led to the remarriage of his mother out of financial necessity and which came as a serious blow to her young son. He could never fully accept the presence of his step-father in the house even though he knew his mother had had no option other than to remarry if she wanted to hold on to the small farm she rented from a local doctor. Influenced by the simple piety of his mother, Sulivan entered the junior seminary at a young age and was ordained priest in 1938. He described his period in the seminary as a ‘purgatory’, a place where all concessions to individuality had to be sacrificed to the collective will.