Friday, June 5, 2009

Centennial of Archbishop Duhamel's Death; "Under the Son" Invades Diocesan Centre Land

One hundred years ago today, Joseph Thomas Duhamel, the second bishop and first archbishop of Ottawa celebrated a four-hour ordination ceremony then set out for a pastoral visitation of Paroisse Sainte Euphemie, Casselman. He suffered an attack of angina and passed away that evening, aged 68, in his 35th year of episcopal office.

There is a statue of him outside Notre-Dame Basilica, on the corner of Sussex and Guigues streets, and his remains lie in the crypt of the cathedral. For this occasion, the 12:15 daily Eucharist was held in the "Archbishops Chapel"; six priests joined me in concelebrating a Memorial Mass.

As often regularly happens in these closing days of the academic year when schools plan excursions to Ottawa, groups from Catholic schools will attend the noonday liturgy. Thus, the principal, staff and students of St. Anthony Daniel School in Pickering joined us for the occasion: all the seats were taken for a more solemn (and longer) than normal celebration.

Before the final blessing, a procession was held to the crypt where Archbishop Duhamel is entombed; there the paschal candle was prominently lit and a floral arrangement placed for the occasion. There was incensing of the sarcophagus and prayers as we remembered his life and ministry, commending him to God's mercy.

Joseph Thomas Duhamel (November 6, 1841-June 5, 1909)
Born in Contrecœur, QC [near Sorel] on November 6, 1841, Joseph Thomas moved to Ottawa with the Duhamel family as a child.

Beginning in 1847, the year St. Joseph's College opened under the Oblate Fathers, he did all his studies there, completing theology and being ordained in December 1863, aged 22.

Father Duhamel served as curate in Buckingham, QC for a year before becoming pastor of St. Eugene de Prescott for ten years. After Mgr Joseph-Eugene-Bruno Guigues, o.m.i.died in February 1874, Duhamel, though only 33 years old, was named to succeed him.

In some ways he had been prepared for the office. For in 1869, he had accompanied Bishop Guigues to the First Vatican Council and served as one of his theological advisors at the Provincial Council of Quebec in 1873.

Duhamel's ministry as bishop and, from 1886 when Ottawa became an archdiocese, as archbishop would last close to thirty-five years. When Duhamel began as bishop, Ottawa had 60 parishes, 80 priests and about 100,000 faithful.

Though the diocese was twice reduced in size by creation of the Vicariates of Pontiac (now the Pembroke Diocese) in 1882 and Haileybury (now the Diocese of Timmins) in 1908, at his death parishes numbered 136, priests 250 and the faithful more than 100,000.

Archbishop Duhamel presided over extraordinary growth, defended the rights of Catholics to education in their language, and, fluently bilingual, was well-regarded by both linguistic communities. Guided by supernatural principles and faithful to Rome, he was a man of humility and affable, taking advice readily. He maintained good relations with governmental and church leaders and was esteemed by his people.

In this centennial year of his passing, we remember Thomas Joseph Duhamel our first archbishop, give thanks to God and remember him in our prayers.

"Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him!"

"May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen."

The Annual English-speaking Youth Office's Rally for Youth "UNDER THE SON" takes place this weekend. A tent city blooms on the grounds of the Diocesan Centre (1247 Kilborn Place) as 150 persons take part in the weekend events:

5:00pm Volunteer Registration and Prep
7:00pm Registration
7:30pm Gathering: Music, Intros, Icebreakers, Rules, Skit
8:30pm Talk (Seeing beyond the lies/God is Truth)
9:20pm Small Groups
9:50pm Gathering
10:30pm Free Time: Small group leaders check in
11:00pm Bedding Down
11:30pm Lights Out

7:30am Rise ’n Shine
8:00am Breakfast
8:45am Gathering: Music, wake up activity, announcements
9:30am Workshop 1 (Knowing Truth - Prayer)
10:15am Small Groups
10:45am Mass (Presiding: Newly-ordained Father Jonathan Blake

11:30am Lunch
12:30pm Free time
2:15 pm Gathering
- Skit, send to workshops
2:30pm Workshop 2 (Recognizing Truth - Prayer)
3:00pm Small Groups
3:30pm Break (10min)
3:45pm Gathering (Large Group Activities/Games)
4:30pm Workshop 3 (Freedom to love - Chastity)
5:00pm Small Groups
5:30pm Gathering; Grace, instructions
5:30pm Dinner
7:00pm Gathering: Introduce evening program
7:30pm Talk – Slavery of sin/freedom in Christ
8:15pm Small Groups
8:45pm Gathering
9:00pm Adoration, Reconciliation
10:30pm Free Time: Small group leader check in
11:30pm Bedding Down
12:00pm Lights Out

8:00am Rise’ n Shrine/ Breakfast
9:00am Packing/Clean up time
9:30am Gathering; Music, Introductions
10:00am Talk – Living in Freedom
11:00am Large Group Session
11:30am Survey (small groups?)
11:45am Mass Preparation
12:00pm Mass -- Archbishop Prendergast, presiding
1:30pm Instructions for BBQ/ thank you
2:30pm Departure of Participants; Meeting for volunteers


  1. Very interesting biography of Archbishop Duhamel! Thanks for this... and beware of 4 hour long ordination celebrations !

  2. i have found a large framed picture of Bishop Duhamel in my garage. It is in fair shape with some water damage. Would you have any interest in having this? I can send you a picture of it.