BEAUDRY, CYRILLE, Roman Catholic priest, Cleric of St Viator, school administrator, and educator; b. 16 April 1835 in Saint-Paul-d’Industrie, Lower Canada, son of Jean-Baptiste Beaudry, a farmer, and Clotilde Brault (Brau); d. 3 May 1904 in Joliette, Que., and was buried there 5 May in the cemetery of the Clerics of St Viator.
Cyrille Beaudry did his secondary studies at the Collège de L’Assomption and the Collège Joliette from 1848 to 1854. He combined teaching with studying theology at the Collège Joliette (1854–56) and then at the Collège de Chambly. Ordained to the priesthood on 20 Dec. 1857, he served first as curate in Huntingdon and Saint-Chrysostome, and as principal of the Collège de Longueuil, which was run by the Clerics of St Viator. In 1859 he was sent as a missionary to Victoria, in the diocese of Vancouver Island, but frail health forced him to give up this ministry after a year. In 1863 he was appointed curate for the parish of Saint-Charles-Borromée in Joliette and on 1 Jan. 1864 he entered the Clerics of St Viator.
In March Father Beaudry began what would be a long career at the Collège Joliette, with which he soon became identified. Except for the four years from 1867 to 1871, when he was curé of the parish of Saint-Enfant-Jésus (in present-day Montreal), and the year 1882–83, he would be its principal for the rest of his life. At various times he carried out additional duties as prefect of studies and procurator, and from 1880 to 1893 he served as provincial superior for the Clerics of St Viator.
Beaudry first distinguished himself as a builder. With the little college put up by Barthélemy Joliette* in 1846 as the base, he brought an impressive collection of buildings to completion in the period from 1875 to 1903. His highest achievement would be the Sacré-Cœur chapel, a masterpiece of Gothic art, erected on his initiative in 1881–82. The general curia of the Viatorians sometimes had misgivings about his undertakings. To solve his financial problems, he made wide use of prêts à fonds perdus provided by former students. A benefactor would turn over money to the college and receive interest payments during his lifetime. Lotteries and membership fees from spiritual confraternities Beaudry organized brought him additional revenue. He frequently applied to the Quebec government for increased subsidies to the Collège Joliette (its annual grant for 1904 was $682.58).
Under Beaudry’s direction, the college began to expand. Student enrolment grew from 115 in 1864 to 331 in 1904, and the teaching staff from 23 to 35. The classical studies program, which was undertaken after the commercial course and was compressed into six years, was similar to that of other classical colleges. In 1873 he obtained the status of a classical college for his institution and he had it affiliated to the Université Laval in 1880. Greek and political economy were introduced as subjects. He consolidated and reorganized the commercial course, adding instruction in shorthand. The teaching and use of English were encouraged. Courses in hygiene and physical education were included in the curriculum, a swimming-pool was built in 1899, and the recreation grounds were transformed into a veritable park. Beaudry took on the task of publishing the Annuaire of the college in 1875 and the Ordo des élèves in 1886. The college newspaper, La Voix de l’écolier du collège Joliette, was begun in 1876, and the house periodical, Curiosités de l’histoire de France, in 1885. A number of school texts were printed on the college’s press. He encouraged teachers to undertake specialized studies in Paris and elsewhere in Europe.
Among the most frequently recurring themes in Beaudry’s talks with the students were patriotic education, courtesy, refinement, and above all Eucharistic piety. He kept in close contact with the students and their parents, to whom he sent annual circular letters that vigorously defended the aims of classical colleges. He used the Ordo des élèves to make the history of his institution better known to students and alumni.
From 1880 to 1893 Father Beaudry served as provincial superior for the Clerics of St Viator in Canada, while still carrying out his duties as principal of the Collège Joliette. Under his administration the order expanded rapidly. Between 1880 and 1893 its membership grew from 130 to 216, in spite of the loss of many members through death and the separation of the American establishments, which were raised to the status of a religious province in 1882.
Father Beaudry was highly regarded by the clergy of the province and enjoyed the wholehearted confidence of the public. When it came to politics, he was not neutral. Premier Honoré Mercier* alluded to the matter in a letter of 1890. According to historian Robert Rumilly*, Liberal candidate Louis Bazinet (Basinet) was elected in the provincial riding of Joliette in 1889 despite Beaudry, “the strongest influence in Joliette.” On a number of occasions Beaudry approached the mla for Joliette and the provincial secretary to gain their support for bills dealing with education. He led the lobbying of the religious communities against the proposal Louis-Rodrigue Masson presented to the Council of Public Instruction in 1893, which recommended that all members of religious orders should hold a certificate of teaching competence and that uniform textbooks should be used.
But it was primarily through his spirituality that Father Beaudry would become known and would influence his day and age. In his myriad instructions to students, he sought to impart his intense piety towards the Sacred Heart. The fund-raising campaign for the construction of the Sacré-Cœur chapel, which was declared a shrine in 1883, made his work known in Canada, the United States, and France. He was also the “prophet” of devotion to the Eucharistic rite. From the 17th century, under the influence of Jansenism, there had been a movement within the Catholic Church favouring rigid requirements for taking the sacrament, which had led to a decrease in how often people attended mass and how many made their communion. Long before the decrees of Pope Pius X in 1905 (on frequent communion) and in 1910 (on the communicating of children), Father Beaudry had become the advocate of this emphasis on the Eucharist. In 1881 he founded the Association des Prêtres Adorateurs in Canada and he directed it from Joliette until the Blessed Sacrament Fathers arrived in 1890 [see Marie Hébert* de La Rousselière]. He also promoted the Agrégation du Très Saint-Sacrement, a brotherhood he had established in 1882 among the staff and students of Collège Joliette and later introduced among the brothers in the Clerics of St Viator.
Father Beaudry was instrumental in getting Joliette chosen as an episcopal see in 1904 [see Joseph-Alfred Archambault*]. He effectively defended the “rights of Joliette” against L’Assomption. While his brother, the curé Prosper Beaudry of Joliette, was building the future cathedral, he was preparing the diocesan “seminary.” He lobbied the bishops of Quebec forcefully and he had reliable friends in Rome.
Because of Cyrille Beaudry’s 35-year tenure as principal, his personality, his prestige, and his many endeavours, no superior (as his successors would be titled) would ever contribute as much to the development of the Collège Joliette or have such an influence on a long succession of students. The “second founder” of the Collège Joliette had generated, it was said, thousands of “little Beaudrys.” From the time of his death in 1904, the memory of the “patriarch” or the “Moses” of Joliette has been celebrated constantly and on special occasions. A monument in front of the college, a wing, a street, and a concession all bear his name.
Cyrille Beaudry is the author of several religious works, including Manuel de la Confrérie du Cœur de Jésus; en faveur des saintes âmes du purgatoire . . . (Joliette, Qué., 1877); Manuel de piété; à l’usage des académies, collèges et petits séminaires . . . (Joliette, 1892); Nouveau manuel à l’usage des membres du Tiers Ordre de S. François . . . (Joliette, 1884); La semaine sainte (Joliette, 1890); and Vade mecum du pieux garde d’honneur (Joliette, 1883; réimpr. 1905; 2e éd., Montréal, 1925). In addition, he published numerous pamphlets and also articles, especially in the Annuaire of the Collège Joliette, 1876–1903, and in its Ordo des élèves, 1886–1904.
There is a great deal of material on Father Beaudry, his administration of the Collège Joliette, and his role as provincial superior in the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur at Joliette (which also houses the Arch. du Séminaire de Joliette); many of Beaudry’s manuscripts, including notebooks of sermons and journals of his travels, are held there as well. In addition, pertinent information is available in the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur in Montreal and in the papers of the Ministère de l’Éducation at the ANQ-Q (E13).
A detailed list of manuscript and printed materials on Father Beaudry prepared by the author is in Beaudry’s file at the DCB.
ANQ-Q, E13/1873, no.2200; 1875, no.319; 1876, no.375; 1877, no.3589. L’Action populaire (Joliette), 17–24 juin 1926; 23 mai 1929; 31 oct., 21, 28 nov. 1935; 19 mars, 22 oct. 1936; 6 mai 1954. Le Droit (Ottawa), 12 févr. 1927, 21 oct. 1936. L’Étoile du Nord, 13 mai, 16 juin 1904; 22 sept. 1921; 4 mars 1964. Joliette Journal, 15 déc. 1982. La Patrie, 4, 6–7 mai 1904. La Presse, 21 déc. 1952. La Voix de l’écolier du collège Joliette (Joliette), 1876–79.
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