Lequerré, Father Urbain Etienne
1877, April 6
Date of Birth: 1836, January 29
May 4, 1877
Fathers and Very Dear in Our Lord:
No Memorial Card is Available
You have probably heard of the loss we have suffered at Montreal in the person of Father Lequerré (and you have prayed for that dear confrere), but I have not been able to give you the details of his last moments. I feel it incumbent on me to tell you today what has been told me in that regard, well convinced that with me you will bless the Good God Who consoles us with the graces He showers on the members of our little family even as He puts us to the test by the sacrifices He asks of us.
Father Urbain Etienne Lequerré was born at Brest on January 29, 1836 of a respectable and very Christian family. He made his classical courses at the College of Nantes, went from there to the seminary of the same city for Philosophy and Theology, and at length came to the Seminary of St. Sulpice and to the Solitude, where he was ordained priest in 1860.
Admitted into the Society of St. Sulpice at the end of his novitiate, he received from the Superior his assignment to Baltimore, where he had to serve as Treasurer. To this duty he added a little later that of teaching Physics and that of being Master of Ceremonies. He filled these various positions up until the first days of September 1872, with a zeal and a charity which earned him the affection of his confreres and of those with whom he came in contact; a good disposition, kind and pleasant manners, made him liked by everyone. He did not, it is true, have any great ability as a teacher, nor did he have outstanding skills in business matters, but his judgment was solid and to the point, his spirit was obedient, and his habits were controlled and pious – these characteristics made him perform his tasks to everyone’s satisfaction.
He asked for and obtained in 1872 permission to come and spend some months in France with his family and at the Solitude; afterwards he returned with an uplifted heart and filled with a renewed love for the Society to which God had called him. He spent some few days at Baltimore and then went to Montreal where the venerable Father Caval let him go, pending new orders, to help our Fathers in their parochial ministry where they needed help. This ministry, beyond others, was suited to his talents and tastes. He was sent to St. Anne’s parish to work there for the salvation of souls; at the same time, he filled the office of Treasurer, an office he continued in until it pleased God to call him from this world.
Father Lequerré was pretty much in Montreal as he had been in Baltimore. Nature and grace, home-training and the training he had in the seminary for priestly living, had come together to make of him a worthy priest, simple and modest, always obliging. He did not know how to refuse a favor when it was possible for him to do one: a little anecdote will quite readily illustrate that fact. Not long-ago Father Lequerré received from his father a beautiful book, a gilt-edged-quarto, magnificently bound and enhanced with a great number of engravings. The book must naturally have been very valuable in his eyes, especially as a family memento and as a proof of the love of the one who had sent it to him. However, one of his confreres happened to come to seek from Father Lequerré some little thing for a raffle he was running; Father Lequerré, with nothing else at hand, did not think twice about handing over this fine book and did so without giving the slightest sign that he was making a sacrifice.
It was by such good-heartedness, such unconcern about his own interests, and such altruism, that this dear confrere attracted and won souls to God.
We had reason to hope that he would continue for a long time that ministry of charity, for he was in the prime of life and his health since coming to Montreal had always been good, when he was taken, after a tiring Holy Week, with an illness he tried to ignore and which did not keep him from singing the Easter Mass, but which soon developed very serious aspects. The following night was a sleepless and restless one; when the doctors were called in, they diagnosed lung inflammation, leading them to suspect great danger and the end close at hand. The confreres who gathered around the patient did not hide their uneasiness from him; so complete was his acceptance of the holy will of God that he was not at all upset; he thought only of preparing himself for a good death. He received the last sacraments with much calm and piety, kept to the last his unruffled attitude, and set straight his temporal affairs. His patience and piety were for all a cause of admiration; finally, on Friday of Easter week, April 6th, about five in the evening, he peacefully gave his soul to God.
The body of the dear deceased remained on view the three following days in a parlor of the rectory where the good Irish [parishioners] whom Father Lequerré had served, constantly paid their respects; they came to touch their beads and their [religious] medals to him and to shed their tears. The funeral was held the day after [the feast of] the Annunciation. The Archbishop of Montreal kindly deigned to be present in pontifical vestments and to give the absolution; a considerable number of priests participated, and the attendance of the faithful was such that St. Anne’s Church, though spacious, could not hold the crowd.
The pastor of St. Anne’s some days later, with deep emotion, said to the Superior of the Seminary of Montreal: “In losing Father Lequerré, I have lost my friend, my brother, and my father. I don’t know how to tell you how much he was loved by my assistants and my people at St. Anne’s. Say as much as you will about him, you can never say enough.”
I recommend Father Lequerré to the prayers of our little Society. Ask God, through the intercession of the Holy Virgin, to bless the various works of Montreal by giving us men according to His heart, men imbued with the spirit of our predecessors to devote themselves to the salvation of souls, to that ministry of seminaries and parishes, where there is so much good to be done.
Accept, Fathers and very dear confreres, the assurance of my complete and very affectionate devotion in Our Lord.
Superior of the Seminary of St. Sulpice