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The adult seriousness of the face captured by the contemporary photography is in strong contrast to the juvenile proportions of the same face - a picture of transition. At 16 years of age, this is one of the first photographs of Leo Dehon we possess. Perhaps it's the same one that he mentions in his notes: "I was 16 years old. Still today I have one of my photographs, made at that time in Hazebrouck." (NHV I/30v)

After Leo passed his examination for his bachelor’s degree in letters at Douai (17.8.59) he had to say goodbye to Hazebrouck. In his NHV he sums up what it meant to leave Hazebrouck: "I was about to leave that land of faith. I took with me the most precious treasures: the taste for and the habit of piety, zeal for works of charity, a faith which was quite enlightened, friendships, many happy memories, and a sufficient knowledge of my vocation." (NHV I/30v)

Looking at the face of the 16 year old Leo one may not think that he was capable of initiating, at exactly this time, a conflict with his parents, which would be a heavy burden, of great consequence for a long time, for all involved: the son dares to oppose his father’s dream of a civil career, full of prosperity, reputation and success, with his own desire for priesthood:

"After a few days of vacation, I spoke to my father and mother about my vocation. Even though they should have suspected it, it came like a bolt from the blue... Finally he rejected my plan altogether. I asked permission to go to St. Sulpice. He said he would never allow it... It was decided that I would prepare myself for the polytechnic institute." (NHV I/31r f.)

Today we understand this conflict very well. For many years the father’s desire for a civil career battled with the son’s conviction of a spiritual vocation. And the fruit of this long conflict is an itinerary and a personality, such as the Dehon we know today: His Paris studies, his cultural education, his great journeys, even his studies in Rome - all these are experiences, which have great impact on Dehon’s personality and which Dehon would have never enjoyed if his father in 1859 simply would have said "Yes." Yves

Ledure has a still deeper view on this argument: "To realise his ambition, Leo had to go against his father’s wishes. The Dehonian project which will gradually be revealed in its complexity, began with an initial act of disobedience. Leo’s refusal to submit to his father opened the way for submission to God which will be the basic idea of Dehonian spirituality." (Yves Ledure, A short life of L. Dehon, p. 22)