The clergy in 1820
The religious face of Montréal had changed since 1760.
At first glance, one might think it was still under the French regime. The Sulpicians were still there, as were the Hospitallers of St. Joseph, the Grey Nuns and the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame. The Sulpicians were still Montréal’s priests and seigneurs. In addition to having a school for boys, they had also founded a college. The Sisters of the Congregation were still teaching young girls. The Hospitallers were still caring for the sick at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital, while the Grey Nuns continued to see to the needs of orphans, the elderly, the poor and the infirm. In short, the clergy was still involved in education, caring for the sick and providing services to the poor.
But when one took a closer look, one could see that in addition to these still-celibate Catholic priests and nuns, there were now also married Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis.
In urban areas, religious practice had become more varied and new places of worship had been built for other religions. In 1792, the Scottish community built the St. Gabriel Presbyterian church on the street of the same name. The American Presbyterians meanwhile had their church near the former Récollets monastery. The American Methodists had a church on Saint-Pierre Street and the Jewish community had opened the Shearith Israel synagogue on Notre-Dame Street.
Although there were now a greater variety of religions in Montréal, things were still very homogeneous in the countryside. That’s because the Presbyterian, Jewish and Protestant communities had mostly settled in towns. As a result, the Catholic Church was still at the heart of religious life in many parishes.
Author: Léon Robichaud
See also – Traces of the past: