CALLET (Collet), LUC (baptized Léonard-Philibert), Recollet, military chaplain, missionary; b. 3 Nov. 1715 and baptized the following day in the parish of La Madeleine at Besançon, France, illegitimate son of Donat-Nicolas Callet and Marguerite Jandet; d. 5 Sept. 1767 in the parish of Sainte-Anne at Fort de Chartres (near Prairie du Rocher, Ill.).
Several historians have mistakenly claimed that Léonard-Philibert Callet (spelled Collet) was born in America; as a result, without any valid proof they have readily identified Father Luc as the brother of the Recollet Hippolyte Collet and of Canon Charles-Ange Collet. Nothing is known of Léonard-Philibert’s youth until 20 March 1751, when he made his profession under the name of Brother Luc with the Recollets of the province of Saint-Denys. Shortly afterwards he arrived in Canada, where he received the minor orders and the diaconate on 23 and 24 Dec. 1752; he was ordained a priest on 24 Feb. 1753, without any of the difficulty which might have arisen because of his illegitimate birth. Since the documents in Canada concerning his ordination make no mention of any dispensation, it may be that Callet had been legitimized by the marriage of his father and mother, or that he had obtained a dispensation at the time of his profession in the Recollet order in 1751.
In the first year of his priesthood he served in the Quebec region and for a few months replaced Father Maurice Imbault, chaplain of the Hôpital Général of Quebec. Then he left the St Lawrence valley and went to the west, where the first engagements of the Seven Years’ War were beginning; there he carried on his ministry as a military chaplain. In 1754 he was at the Chatacouin post (near Westfield, N.Y.) and returned to Quebec to spend the winter. At the end of the following spring he went to Fort Niagara (near Youngstown, N.Y.), then on to Fort de la Presqu’île (Erie, Pa.). At the beginning of July he left to go to Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh, Pa.), where the commandant, Claude-Pierre Pécaudy* de Contrecœur, was begging for his services. After spending a month there he returned to the region of Fort de la Presqu’île and remained until 1760. He then took up residence at Fort Detroit. When the hostilities ceased he was no longer a military chaplain, and he went to the Illinois country, where he served the parishes of Sainte-Anne at Fort de Chartres, Saint-Philippe (Renault, Ill.), and L’Immaculée-Conception at Kaskaskia.
Despite various claims, Callet never served in Acadia, was never captured by the English, and certainly was never sent to captivity in England. It has been written, incorrectly, that he died 30 May 1765 in France. He died suddenly at Sainte-Anne, Fort de Chartres, on 5 Sept. 1767.
Callet’s role during the Seven Years’ War was limited to the duties of a military chaplain. He had to assure his ministry and his moral support to the soldiers stationed in the forts and at the same time to bring the succour of religion to combat victims. Antoine-Gabriel-François Benoist*, commandant of Fort de la Presqu’île, testified to the importance of Callet’s role as a military chaplain when he expressed to Contrecœur his regrets at having to part with Father Luc for some weeks: “he [Callet] is extremely necessary here, this post being the collecting-station for all the sick, besides, the loss of a missionary would make this fort much more odious to me.”
[Archives des Franciscains (Montréal), Dossier Luc Callet: the dossier contains copies of several documents, collected by Father Archange Godbout from Canadian, American, and European repositories, that have never been used by the historians who have worked on Léonard-Philibert Callet. The assertions of several of the historians who have written about Callet must consequently be treated cautiously. Some incorrect information concerning the places of birth and death, the spelling of the surname, and family relation ships with the Collets, as well as the main events in Father Luc’s life are contained in the following: ASQ, Fonds Casgrain, Acadie, p.67; Papiers Contrecœur (Grenier); Allaire, Dictionnaire; Tanguay, Répertoire; George Paré, The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701–1888 (Detroit, 1951); J. E. Rothensteiner, History of the archdiocese of St. Louis . . . (2v., St Louis, Mo., 1928); Amédée Gosselin, “Le père Luc Collet, récollet,” BRH, XXX (1924), 397–400; F. M. Habig, “Fathers Luke and Hippolyte Collet,” Around the Province (Teutopolis, Ill.), XX (1956), 399–400; “New light on Fr. Hippolyte Collet and Fr. Luke Callet pioneer Franciscans in the St. Louis area,” Around the Province, XXI (1957), 292–97. The authors of the most recent works have copied their predecessors’ statements without verifying them. m.p.]