CHAMPY, GÉLASE, priest, Recollet, provincial commissioner; b. 1657 at Sézanne; d. 1 Dec. 1738 at Saint-Germain en Laye.
Gélase Champy entered the Recollet order in 1678. He must have been appointed guardian of the convent in Quebec at the provincial chapter held in Paris on 5 June 1701, for on 1 Oct. 1702 he was in office. Indeed he took part in a meeting of the council of the Franciscan mission in Canada, presided over by Father Joseph Denys, the provincial commissioner. This assembly, held at Quebec and attended also by Fathers Luc Filiastre and Élisée Crey, the superiors of Trois-Rivières and Montreal, had to approve the settlement of certain debts. The council decided to part with a house belonging to the mission; Callière, the apostolic syndic of the Recollets, was also present, and signed the minutes.
Father Champy did not know at the time that on 26 June 1703, less than a year later, he would have the painful duty of delivering Callière’s funeral oration. Mother Jeanne-Françoise Juchereau de Saint-Ignace, who reported the event, added: “without doubt he gave him well merited praise, for one could not say enough good of this great man.” She wrongly attributed to Champy the title of provincial commissioner, an office that he was to hold from 1707 to 1710. In November 1703 Father Champy went to France to attend the provincial chapter which was to be held in Paris on 18 April 1704. During his four-year stay in France he made use of his talents as an orator; they were much sought after particularly by the Recollets of the Rue du Bac. In addition, he kept the cause of the missions in Canada well to the fore, so much so that in 1707 the provincial chapter of Paris appointed him provincial commissioner of the Canadian mission and president (guardian) of the convent in Quebec. He succeeded Father Apollinaire Luteau.
His term of office was marked by no outstanding achievement. We may note that on 6 June 1708, in the chapel of his convent, he officiated at the burial of Pierre Denys de La Ronde, the father of the first Canadian Recollet, Father Joseph. Champy’s last official act in Canada was the signing of a petition dated 21 Oct. 1709; this document, addressed to the intendant, Jacques Raudot, and cosigned by all the superiors of the communities of men and women, requested that the annual allowance, which was slow in coming, be finally paid.
We do not know the date of his return to France. We do know, however, that from 1716 on he devoted himself to preaching in the Franciscan convents of Saint-Jean de Belleville, Saint-Sauveur, and Paris. He died on 1 Dec. 1738 at the age of 81 and after 60 years of religious life.
BN, MS, NAF 1827, f.81. “Un éloge funèbre du gouverneur de Callières,” APQ Rapport, 1921–22, 228–32. Gazette de France (Paris), 29 juillet 1703. Juchereau, Annales (Jamet), 312. Jouve, Les Franciscains et le Canada: aux Trois-Rivières, 74, 78, 87, 90.