MOREL, THOMAS, priest, pastor to several parishes in New France, canon; b. 1636 at Amalis (diocese of Rennes, in Brittany); d. 1687.
He was one of the first five priests attached to the seminary of Quebec, and the first of the parish priests who were considered as life-time members of this institution. He devoted his life to ministration among the French settlers. He arrived at Quebec on 22 Aug. 1661, and served as a priest first at the Beaupré shore (1661–68) and on the Île d’Orléans (1661–71), then, from 1671 to 1683, almost exclusively on the south shore, starting at Pointe-Lévy and going down the river as the missions were set up. After a period of rest at the seminary, he attempted to resume his ministry at Champlain, but he contracted a serious illness there and went to Quebec, where he died soon after, on 23 Nov. 1687.
Abbé Morel had had the church of Sainte-Anne de Beaupré rebuilt because it was too near to the tides. In addition to the parish registers, drawn up with extraordinary care, he has left us a handwritten account of the first miracles performed at the Sainte-Anne sanctuary. The parish of Saint Thomas de Montmagny owes its name to Abbé Morel, who officiated there for several years. In 1675, at the time of a quarrel over precedence, Abbé Morel was indicted for contempt of authority. He refused to appear before the Conseil Souverain, whose jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters he called in question, and demanded that his case be placed before the diocesan officially. He was imprisoned on 25 June, but set free on 22 July. The proceedings were then abandoned.
ASQ, Thomas Morel, “Miracles arrivez en leglise de Ste. Anne du petit Cap Coste de Beaupré en Canadas” (1687), dans Paroisses diverses, 84, et Polygraphie, XIII, 2; Paroisses diverses, 72, 87; Séminaire, II, 57; V, 10; et passim. Jug. et délib., I passim.; II, 813, 834. Thomas Morel, “Recit des merveilles arrivées en l’eglise de Sainte Anne du Petit Cap, coste de Beaupray en la Nouvelle France,” JR (Thwaites), LI, 86–100. BRH, XXXIII (1927), 680. Gosselin, Vie de Mgr de Laval. J.-E. Roy, Histoire de la seigneurie de Lauzon, I, 280–3. P.-G. Roy, “L’emprisonnement de l’abbé Morel,” BRH, XLVII (1941), 127.