DÉAT, ANTOINE, Sulpician, parish priest of Notre-Dame de Montréal, vicar general; b. 16 April 1696 at Riom, France, son of Antoine Déat, a dealer in spices, and Catherine Metayer; d. 23 March 1761 in Montreal.
Antoine Déat entered the seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Clermont-Ferrand on 31 Oct. 1718 and arrived in Montreal on 19 Oct. 1722, two years after his ordination. He was first a curate in the parish of Notre-Dame de Montréal, and later chaplain to the Congregation of Notre Dame from 1723 to 1730. At the nuns’ request he undertook to draw up the Coutumier of the congregation, which was intended to serve as a commentary on the rules of the community, but he soon gave up this work for fear of causing trouble among the nuns. In 1730, after the resignation of the parish priest of Notre-Dame de Montréal, Jean-Gabriel-Marie Le Pape* Du Lescöat, Déat held this office. Little information is available about his activities as parish priest. In 1731 Bishop Dosquet* named him in addition vicar general for the Montreal region. The following year Déat introduced into Montreal the devotion to St Amable, patron saint of his native parish in Riom whom he held in great veneration. In honour of this saint he had a chapel built in the church of Notre-Dame; it became the seat of the Confrérie de la Bonne Mort, which he founded that same year.
Antoine Déat left a reputation as an eloquent and moving preacher; 150 extant sermons written in his hand allow us to a certain extent to judge his talent. They are pieces of oratory composed with great care according to the rules for the genre in force at the period. These sermons, delivered on the occasion of the chief liturgical feast-days, are varied and cover practically all the great truths of Christian doctrine. Among them are panegyrics, particularly of St Anne, St Louis [Louis IX], St Augustine, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Francis Xavier, and two Lenten addresses, one on the Passion, the other on the sacrament of penance which was delivered in 1742 and in 1746.
About a third of these sermons deal with questions of morality, such as false piety, false penance, sin, relapses, evil example, unchastity, dancing, false worldly pleasures, and the keeping of the Sabbath. They furnish valuable information on the morals of our ancestors in the 18th century. Echoes of them are found in the correspondence of the period: Mme Bégon [Rocbert] refers to the sermon given on 26 Jan. 1749, in which the preacher condemned dances indiscriminately and unsparingly. She had not heard the sermon, and in speaking of it in her letter of 26 January deforms and exaggerates it. The passage which she quotes does not exist in the text, and she borrowed from here and there in the address words and phrases which, taken out of context and stripped of their nuances, assume a meaning and an importance that the preacher never intended.
Antoine Déat’s oratorical talent does not seem to have suffered any eclipse throughout his ministry. He submitted his resignation in 1760, after more than 37 years of service in the parish of Notre-Dame, and on 23 March 1761, at 65 years of age, he died at the seminary of Montreal. He was entitled to a public funeral in the chapel of the Confrérie de la Bonne Mort.
AD, Puy-de-Dôme (Clermont-Ferrand), État civil, prieuré Saint-Jean, 16 avril 1696. ASSM, Section des associations et des communautés; Section des biographies; Section prédication. “Correspondance de Mme Bégon” (Bonnault), APQ Rapport, 1934–35, 31, 199–200. Allaire, Dictionnaire. Gauthier, Sulpitiana. [Ê.-M. Faillon], Vie de la sœur Bourgeoys, fondatrice de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame de Villemarie en Canada, suivie de l’histoire de cet institut jusqu’à ce jour (2v., Villemarie [Montréal], 1853), II, 290, 296, 327; Vie de Mme d’Youville, fondatrice des Sœurs de la Charité de Villemarie dans l’île de Montréal, en Canada (Villemarie [Montréal], 1852), 62. Lemire-Marsolais et Lambert, Histoire de la Congrégation de Notre-Dame, III, IV. Olivier Maurault, L’œuvre et fabrique de Notre-Dame de Montréal (Montréal, 1959).