• Archdiocese

From 1897-1921: Active life, the Congress of 1910, University of Montreal


Msgr. Bruchési began his mission by visiting, one by one, some ten women's religious communities on which he relied greatly and which he would always carry in his heart.

It was under the episcopate of Msgr. Bruchési that Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal was founded with his approval in 1904. The Archbishop presided over the inital and rapid developments of the sanctuary.

It is under his episcopate that yet a fourth partition of the diocese was carried out in 1904; the diocese of Joliette in the North-West region of the initial territory.

The most beautiful and historic page in Msgr. Bruchési's life and episcopate was without a doubt that of the preparation, planning, and celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress in Montreal from September 7 to 11, 1910. It's worth covering in detail.

In 1909, the 20th Eucharistic Congress was held in London. Archbishop Bruchési was there and had given a very remarkable speech. The idea came to him to ask the Central Convention Committee for permission to organize the 21st Congress in Montreal. It was pointed out to the Archbishop that there had not yet been a Eucharistic Congress in America and that Montreal was not the largest city in America... The Prelate subtle remark that it was, nevertheless, the largest Catholic city, surely helped him win his cause.

The Holy Father Pius X appointed Cardinal Vincenzo Vanutelli as Legate. More than one hundred and twenty-five bishops from all over the world responded to Msgr. Bruchési's invitation. The event was a total success. The archbishop shone in the improvisation, the presentation of the speakers, and the occasional thanks.

Only one incident nearly threw a wet blanket on the event. It is well known to people of a certain age. On the eve of the closing of the Congress, September 10, in a Notre-Dame Church filled to capacity, Msgr. Bourne, Archbishop of Westminster, gave a speech where he developed the following theme: Canada must grow and be populated by colonists of diverse origins who will all speak English; the Catholic Church must use the growing influence of English in Canada... The Catholic religion and the English language must be united in the future. This surprised and dismayed the audience. At the end of Msgr. Bourne's speech, the Archbishop of Saint-Boniface, Msgr. Adélard Langevin, defender of the French cause in the West of the country, approached Henri Bourassa, who was the third speaker to come, and said to him: We cannot let this stand; you must answer. Bourassa, in fact, slipped into the text that he had prepared an improvised and respectful response to the words of the Archbishop of Westminster. Referring to the minority status of Francophones, he said: “Let Catholics of all nations who abound in this hospitable land of Canada have the right to pray to God in the language of their race, their country, the language of their father and mother. But, they will say, you are only a handful; you are inevitably destined to disappear; why do you persist in the struggle? We are only a handful, it is true; but it was not at the school of Christ that I learned to count law and moral forces by number and wealth. We are only a handful, it is true, but we count for who we are, and we have the right to live.” He was met with an ovation.

The next day, the Congress ended with an impressive procession through the streets of the city. Having begun around noon, the procession ended only in the evening, around seven o'clock, at Parc Jeanne-Mance with the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

This Congress is part of the history of Quebec, Canada, and the universal Church. Much of the credit goes to Msgr. Bruchési's initiative and multiple talents. It is thus proper to write that the Archbishop of Montreal was, from beginning to end, the central figure of the Congress.

Msgr. Bruchési's last long-standing act, before entering into the long suffering of his illness, was to obtain autonomy status for the Université de Montréal on April 29, 1919. His skill made it possible to successfully conduct the long dialogue with Rome over forty-three years.

Returning to the rich years of his active life, it should be noted that Msgr. Bruchési erected sixty-three parishes, published numerous mandates and pastoral letters on the most diverse subjects: Christian marriage, justice, workers, and peace.