MASSÉ, ÉNEMOND, Jesuit priest and missionary; b. 3 Aug. 1575 at Lyon, eldest son of François Massé, independent baker, and of Philippe Bica; entered the Company of Jesus at the noviciate of Avignon, on 22 Aug. 1595; d. 12 May 1646 at Sillery. He had been baptized with the name of Nesmes, which he changed to Énemond when he became a religious.
After his noviciate he taught at the Collège of Tournon (1597–99), and was also assistant to the bursar; at the same time he began his theological studies, which he completed at the Collège of Dole in 1602. After his ordination to the priesthood, we find him again at Tournon, then at the Collège in Lyon, as minister or bursar, a function which he was to perform during a great part of his life. In 1609 he left the province of Lyon to become the associate of Father Pierre Coton, the confessor to Henri IV, at the court. Rochemonteix wrongly identifies him with Father Imbert de Masso, his predecessor in this office.
In September 1610 Father Massé was selected to accompany Father Biard to New France, where he arrived on 22 May 1611. From that time on he displayed a practical common sense which was to make him indispensable wherever he went, and to earn him the surname of Father Useful (Père Utile). In the summer of 1612 Massé ventured on a hunting trip with a Micmac family, and very nearly lost his life as a result. He was driven out of Acadia by Argall, and was back in France in October 1613. He spent a year at the Collège de Clermont in Paris, and was then sent as minister to La Flèche, where he stayed until 1625. He subjected himself to harsh mortifications in order to be deemed worthy of returning to New France, and he was in fact among the first group of Jesuits who landed at Quebec in 1625. He made his home with the Recollets, and Father Charles Lalemant entrusted to him the work of completing Notre-Dame-des-Anges, in which the missionaries began to live in 1626. After he and his companions had been reduced to starvation, he was again expelled by the English under David Kirke in 1629.
Following a second stay at La Flèche, Father Massé sailed again for Canada in 1633. He lived at Notre-Dame-des-Anges until 1642, gladly undertaking all the most menial daily tasks. From 1641 on, as age and fatigue began to weigh more heavily, he concerned himself more with giving his associates the benefit of his counsel and experience. In 1643, however, he was still to be found taking care of the Indians at Sillery, where he taught the Montagnais language to Father Druillettes. By the end of 1645 the venerable pioneer of the Canadian mission was reduced to inactivity. His life came to a peaceful close at Sillery, when he was 70 years old. His memory is recalled today by a monument erected over his grave in 1870, on the site of the old chapel which was still unfinished at the time of his death.
Father Massé has left little written material; he obviously wielded a tool more readily than a pen. We know of three short letters of his. Father Jérôme Lalemant quotes a portion of his spiritual notes, and we have found the copy, in his handwriting, of a letter of Father Biard’s.
Champlain, Works (Biggar). Factum, (1614). JR (Thwaites). Lescarbot, History (Grant), III. Campbell, Pioneer priests, II, 49–61. Charlevoix, Histoire, I, 121–40, 159, 178, 367. Huguet, Poutrincourt. Jésuites de la N.-F. (Roustang). Léon Pouliot, Premiers ouvriers de la Nouvelle-France: les pères Énemond Massé et Anne de Nouë, missionaires Jésuites (Montréal, 1940). Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la Nouvelle-France au XVIIe siècle, I, 23–72, 140, 152, 158, 166, 174, 176, 189, 276–79.