DROGUE-LAJOIE, PASCAL (he also signed P. D. Lajoie and sometimes P.-D. Lajoie), Cleric of St Viator, priest, educator, and administrator; b. 29 March 1826 in Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville, Lower Canada, son of Antoine Drogue, dit Lajoie, a day labourer, and Félicité Jared, dit Beauregard; d. 25 Feb. 1919 in Jette-Saint-Pierre, Belgium.
After attending the parish school in Saint-Jean-Baptiste-de-Rouville, Pascal Drogue-Lajoie went on to the Collège de Chambly, where he did his classical studies. He then studied theology for two years at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. He was tonsured in 1845, but decided to take some time for reflection. In 1846–47 he taught school in Sainte-Élisabeth, near the village of Industrie (Joliette). On 5 Sept. 1847 he entered the noviciate of the Clerics of St Viator, who had recently arrived in Industrie [see Étienne Champagneur*]. During his noviciate he also taught at the Collège Joliette, an establishment founded by Barthélemy Joliette* in 1846. The following year (1848–49) he returned to Sainte-Élisabeth to become principal of the school, this time as a Cleric of St Viator. From 1849 to 1856 he was on the staff of the Collège Joliette. He was ordained to the priesthood on 12 Sept. 1852 and became principal of the college in July 1853. An appointment to head the Collège de Chambly took him away from Industrie for the year 1856–57, after which he returned to the principalship of the Collège Joliette.
In 1860 Lajoie served as a delegate to the general chapter, which was to elect a successor to the founder, Louis Querbes, who had died on 1 Sept. 1859. He was supposed to spend only a few months at the mother house in Vourles, France, but after the chapter was over, he was asked to remain as novice master, and he spent nearly four years in the country. On his return to Canada in October 1863, Lajoie resumed his duties as principal at the Collège Joliette. He left on 1 March 1864 to succeed Antoine Manseau* as curé of Saint-Charles-Borromée in Joliette, a parish which, under the terms of a gift made by Barthélemy Joliette in 1850, was to be administered by the Clerics of St Viator on Manseau’s retirement.
Father Lajoie’s first pastoral concern was for the poor and the young. He gave effective support to the work being done by the Sisters of Charity of Providence, whose establishment took in the sick, the aged, and orphaned girls. To enable them to devote more time to their tasks, he assigned responsibility for girls’ education to the sisters of the Congregation of Notre-Dame, whom he brought to Joliette in 1875.
In 1872 Lajoie had been appointed vicar-forane by Bishop Ignace Bourget*. The new responsibility gave him a degree of authority over the curés of the neighbouring parishes, and he intervened indirectly in the question of liberalism in 1875. When the election of Louis-François-Georges Baby* in the federal riding of Joliette was disputed in 1874, some curés were implicated. Lajoie and ten other priests from the riding sent a memorandum to the bishop of Montreal, asking for advice on how to behave towards “liberals,” for “there are liberals, not only among the Rouges, but also in large numbers among the Conservatives.”
In 1876–77, through the generosity of some benefactors, Lajoie had the Saint-Joseph chapel built at the other end of town for the benefit of the poor parishioners there. Despite the parish’s meagre resources, in 1879–80 he managed to erect a large presbytery. In 1880 Archbishop Édouard-Charles Fabre* of Montreal asked him to serve on a council that would advise him on the financial affairs of his archbishopric.
Lajoie had succeeded Étienne Champagneur as superior of the Canadian obedience (jurisdiction) of the Clerics of St Viator in 1870. For ten years he carried out the duties of both superior and curé. Lajoie completed the administrative structure of the Canadian obedience. He had the 1849 act of incorporation amended so he would now be assisted by a five-member advisory council, whose proceedings would be recognized in civil law. At the annual meetings of the order, the directors of each house had to submit their account books to a special commission. Every member was required to follow a particular program of studies, on which he had to report. In 1873 Lajoie obtained recognition as classical colleges for the Collège Joliette and the Collège Bourget in Rigaud, and got them affiliated to the Université Laval. By the end of his ten years as superior, membership in the obedience of Canada had grown from 105 to 130. The Clerics of St Viator now had establishments in the dioceses of Montreal, Quebec, and Saint-Hyacinthe.
The general chapter at its 1880 meeting in Vourles elected Lajoie vicar general of the institute (or first assistant general). For ten years he would aid the superior general in his duties, with special responsibility for Canadian affairs. In 1887 he made a canonical visit to the establishments in Canada and the United States on behalf of the superior general, Étienne Gonnet. He noted the deplorable health of the Canadian Viatorians: “Almost all of them die young.”
The 1890 general chapter elected Lajoie superior general. He was its fourth, and the first Canadian to hold this office. At the time the congregation included five obediences: Vourles, Rodez, and Les Ternes (all in France), Canada, and Chicago. Until then, the superior of Vourles also had acted as superior general. To carry out the decisions of the 1890 chapter, Lajoie set up a council separate from that of the mother obedience and in 1896 moved the headquarters to Paris. With the cooperation of his council and the quinquennial chapters (1895, 1900, 1905, 1909), he modernized the Viatorian administration and made it more efficient. One of his tasks would be to bring the regulations and statutes of the congregation into line with new Vatican legislation. In 1912 the Viatorian obediences were canonically erected into “religious provinces.”
Lajoie kept in constant contact with the congregation and its members through his circular letters, canonical visits, and voluminous administrative and personal correspondence. The most important matters were settled at the quinquennial chapters. He always retained a special attachment to his home jurisdiction, being convinced “that the Canadian province is called upon to march at the head of the institute.” He was directly involved in the matter of choosing Joliette as an episcopal see [see Joseph-Alfred Archambeault].
Two serious events troubled Lajoie’s administration. In France, the enforcement of the laws of 1901 and 1904 against religious communities led to the dissolution of the Viatorian community there, confiscation of its property, and secularization or expulsion of its members. Forced to flee the country with his council and a good many of the congregation, Lajoie set up his headquarters in Belgium, first in Aarschot, and later in Jette-Saint-Pierre, on the outskirts of Brussels. In addition to the substantial material losses suffered from 1902 to 1905, the Viatorians lost nearly a quarter of their members, whose numbers fell from 800 to 625. The province of Les Ternes had to be abolished, and about 30 religious emigrated to Canada. On the other hand, emigration to Spain would plant the seeds of the province there and the flight to Belgium would lead to the founding of large establishments in that country.
In 1914 Lajoie’s administration was disturbed again, this time by World War I. The general chapter he had convened was obliged to adjourn and the delegates fled from Belgium as a German invasion loomed. Lajoie decided to remain at his post and spent the war years in heroic isolation, a helpless witness to the disasters of the conflict, during which many French Viatorians died in battle.
At the time Lajoie had become superior general, the congregation had 622 members, including 219 in Canada and the United States. In 1919 the membership totalled 760, of whom 410 were in North America. During his long administration, which would be described as realistic, sage, and prudent, Lajoie seemed the man of the hour, able to bridge the gap between generations and to maintain cohesion and continuity during the difficult periods that followed the laws against religious communities and the outbreak of the war. His circular letters, writings, and correspondence give the impression that he was first and foremost an educator. He encouraged catechetical studies. Each province had to set up an education commission to draw up a list of textbooks for the congregation’s schools. All Viatorians were urged to use L’école et la famille (Fontaines-sur-Saône), a pedagogical periodical founded by the French Clerics of St Viator in 1876 which would be published for many years. The bulletin L’Ange Gardien (the particular devotion practised by the Clerics of St Viator being to guardian angels), which had been launched in 1891 in France and circulated in Europe and Canada, still carried on its work of popularizing the faith. Father Lajoie urged the teaching members of his congregation to show respect for children: corporal punishment was forbidden.
Although he spent more than 40 years outside Canada, Pascal Drogue-Lajoie always remained a Canadian and especially a Joliettan. He received a triumphal welcome when he came back from France for visits in 1863, 1887, 1893, 1897, and 1904. The town of Joliette, his former parishioners, and the students of the Collège Joliette welcomed him like “a prelate.” During the celebrations in 1910 marking the 60th anniversary of the Collège-Séminaire de Joliette, Bishop Archambeault appointed Lajoie his “honorary vicar general,” much to the delight of the townspeople. Lajoie died in Jette-Saint-Pierre on 25 Feb. 1919 at the age of 92. His remains were transferred to the cemetery of the Clerics of St Viator in Joliette in 1929. A park, street, and school in the town bear his name, as does a street in the city of Outremont.
From 1870 to 1875 Father Pascal Drogue-Lajoie wrote the “Annales de la Société de Saint-Viateur au Canada,” which are preserved in the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur in Montreal. He also published a series of pedagogical articles in the journal Causeries pédagogiques (Louvain, Belgique) between March 1908 and January 1913. His circular letters as provincial superior are found in the microfilm collection “Correspondance complète relative aux Clercs de Saint-Viateur du Canada de 1841 à 1919,” copies of which are available at the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur in Montreal and in Joliette, Qué., as well as at the ANQ and the NA. Father Victor Cardin has assembled seven volumes of letters, circulars, speeches, anecdotes, addresses, and other documents concerning Father Lajoie; this collection is at the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur, Joliette. Important documents relating to Father Lajoie’s career are found also in the Arch. des Clercs de Saint-Viateur in Rome, Montreal, and Joliette (the last of which also holds the archives of the Séminaire de Joliette) and in the Arch. de l’Évêché de Joliette.
ANQ-M, CE2-18, 29 mars 1826. L’Action populaire (Joliette), 16 mars 1929, 29 mai 1947. É.-J.[-A.] Auclair, “Le père Lajoie,” La Semaine religieuse de Montréal, 17 mars 1919: 169–76. Bulletin paroissial (Joliette), avril 1919, octobre/novembre 1943. Le Canada (Montréal), 14 mai 1929. Le Devoir, 3 mars 1919. L’Étoile du Nord (Joliette), 17 nov. 1887; 2 juin 1904; 26 sept. 1912; 20 mars 1919; 18 mars, 10, 16 mai 1929. La Gazette de Joliette, 26 oct. 1877, 18 nov. 1887. Le Messager de Joliette, 2, 5 nov. 1863. La Patrie, 25 mai 1904. La Presse, 15 mai 1929. La Voix de l’écolier du collège Joliette, 2 nov. 1877, 1er nov. 1878. Les anciens du séminaire; écrivains et artistes, [J.-A. Charlebois, compil.] (Joliette, 1927), 15–20. É.-J.[-A.] Auclair, Figures canadiennes; première série; quelques figures marquantes de notre épiscopat et de notre clergé (Montréal, 1933), 54–60. P[ierre] B[auron], “Le très révérend père Pascal Lajoie,” Rev. mariale (Lyon, France), 13 (1919): 167–68. Antoine Bernard, Les Clercs de Saint-Viateur au Canada (2v., Montréal, 1947–51). [Joseph Bonin], Biographies de l’honorable Barthelemi Joliette et de M. le grand vicaire A. Manseau (Montréal, 1874). Collège Joliette, Annuaire, 1875–1904. A.-C. Dugas, Gerbes de souvenirs ou mémoires, episodes, anecdotes et réminiscences du collège Joliette (2v., Montréal, 1914). [Alphonse de Grandpré et Élie Trézières], Notice sur le père Pascal Drogue-Lajoie, 4e supérieur général de l’Institut des Clercs de St-Viateur (Jette-Saint-Pierre, Belgique, s.d.). Institut des Clercs de Saint-Viateur, Annuaire (Montréal), 16 (1906–7): 29–50; 21 (1911–12): 1–3; 24 (1914–15): 4–17; 38 (1928–29): 311–29. Noces de diamant du séminaire de Joliette, A.-C. Dugas, édit. (Joliette, ). François Prud’homme, Les publications des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (Montréal, 1984). Répertoire et compte rendu des noces d’or du collège Joliette, 1846–1897 (Joliette, 1897). Pierre Robert, Vie du père Louis Querbes, fondateur de l’Institut des Clercs de Saint-Viateur (1793–1859) (Bruxelles, 1922). Séminaire de Joliette, Annuaire, 1905–68.