Catholic Church of Montreal > Publications > Info Archives > NOVEMBER 2015 - November 7, 1840: the signing of a concordat leads to the foundation of Montreal’s Grand Séminaire

NOVEMBRE 2015 - November 7, 1840: the signing of a concordat leads to the foundation of Montreal’s Grand Séminaire


Source : ACAM, Fonds Derome, Ph3a 0084
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Unlike what we might be led to believe, the beginning of the 19th Century in the diocese of Montreal was characterized by an important lack of priests. As the Catholic population of the district of Montreal continued to increase, the number of priests decreased in proportion. In addition, diocesan priests were generally given a poor formation before their ordination. The different tasks entrusted to them before their priestly ordination in colleges throughout the province left them with little time to study and to improve their theological knowledge. This situation greatly worried Bishop Jean-Jacques Lartigue who oversaw at the time the district of Montreal. The bishop who was himself a Sulpician requested the assistance of Saint-Sulpice Society for the theological and spiritual training of his clergy. Faced with the refusal of the Sulpicians to take over the training of the clergy in his diocese, Bishop Lartigue decided to personally take matters into his own hands.

In 1825, Bishop Lartigue, founded in his own home the Saint James Seminary. He entrusted the direction of this diocesan seminary to his young secretary, Father Ignace Bourget. Father Bourget also became one of the new Seminary's professor. With the foundation of this new institution, clerics no longer had to go to Quebec to attend theology courses. Bishop Lartigue, always concerned with the training of his clergy, required that no cleric be ordained without having previously spent a full year in a seminary. Therefore, residing at the Saint James Seminary became a prerequisite for candidates to the priesthood in Montreal.

At the death of Bishop Lartigue on April 19, 1840, Ignace Bourget became bishop of Montreal. At the head of the Saint James seminary for 15 years, he was greatly concerned with the formation of the Diocesan clergy. While the number of aspirants to the priesthood continued to increase, the bishopric became more and more crowded with seminarians. In addition, the lack of priests serving parishes across the diocese made it difficult to appoint many secular priests to the seminary. As the Relations between the bishopric and Saint-Sulpice had considerably improved, Bishop Bourget considered asking help from the Sulpicians to assist him with the formation of priests. After much thought and prayers, he reiterated the request of his predecessor to Saint-Sulpice.

In August 1840, Bishop Bourget approached Mr Joseph-Vincent Quiblier, p.s.s., Superior of Saint-Sulpice and shared with him his desire to entrust the training of the diocesan clergy to the Sulpicians. This time, the Society's response was favorable. After discussion, the two parties signed an agreement on Saturday, November 7, 1840. The same day, 15 seminarians moved into the new Séminaire de Montréal located within the walls of the Collège de Montréal on Saint-Paul Street. There are two original copies of the concordat signed between Montreal's Bishop and the Superior of the Sulpicians. The archives of Saint-Sulpice have preserved one copy while the archives of the Archdiocese of Montreal have conserved the other to this day. It is this second copy that you can discover at the bottom of this page. In this text it is forever and irrevocably that Bishop Bourget entrusts to the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice, the ecclesiastical education of the aspirants to the priesthood of his diocese. This month, we celebrate 175 years since the Sulpicians of Montreal have agreed to take care of the formation of Montreal's Diocesan clergy. As a result of the concordat of 1840, hundreds of men were taught by the Sulpicians and, with their help, prepared themselves for the priesthood. Today, 175 years later, the Grand Séminaire continues to welcome all of our diocese's candidates to the priesthood.

On the agenda:

On November 17 at 11am, a celebration will mark the closing of the celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the Grand Séminaire de Montréal.

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Comment by Marcia | 2015-11-12

Two things I especially like in this website:
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