PARÉ, JOSEPH-OCTAVE, secular priest, canon, secretary of the bishopric of Montreal; b. 16 May 1814 at Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu, L.C., son of Léon Paré and Marie-Angélique Grenier; d. 20 Jan. 1878 at Sault-au-Récollet, Que.
At his baptism Joseph-Octave Paré received the first name of Bishop Joseph-Octave Plessis*. In 1827 he began his classical studies at the seminary of Saint-Hyacinthe, and spent his last year at the seminary of Quebec. Having decided on the priesthood, he subsequently studied theology at Saint-Hyacinthe and taught at the same time, as was customary. He was pleased to be able to say that Alexandre-Antonin Taché*, the future archbishop of Saint-Boniface (Man.), was one of his pupils.
Joseph-Octave Paré had already become valuable to Bishop Jean-Jacques Lartigue* at the secretariat of the bishopric when he was ordained priest on 22 Sept. 1838. In 1841, when the cathedral chapter was instituted, he became its chief canon, and in the same year accompanied the new bishop of Montreal, Ignace Bourget*, to Europe. Before returning to Montreal, Bourget made Paré and Michael Power* his chargés d’affaires, with the mission of obtaining from the Colonial Office a written statement that the secretary would undertake not to obstruct the steps being taken by Bourget to set up an ecclesiastical province in Canada. Having done this, Power and Paré went to Ireland to recruit English-speaking priests for the diocese and to consult the bishops on various points of discipline.
In 1856 Paré returned to Europe to visit the great basilicas of the old continent, and to determine which one might serve as a model for the future cathedral of Montreal. St Peter’s in Rome was his choice. He then had the thankless task of collecting the funds for this undertaking.
Being solely responsible for the secretariat from 1845 to 1876, Paré knew Bishop Bourget more closely and over a longer period of time than did any other person. The two men were not always of the same opinion. If the bishop of Montreal accepted his secretary’s views on singing, the liturgy, and the plan of the new cathedral, he disagreed with him as to the measures to be taken to finance the construction of the edifice. However, Paré always carried out Bourget’s decisions with unimpeachable fidelity.
Joseph-Octave Paré was remarkable for the perseverance and good humour with which, for nearly 40 years, he served Lartigue and Bourget. He took an active part in the charitable work, the labours, and the successes of Bourget, whose humiliations he also shared. In the spring of 1877, when Bishop Bourget retired to the Saint-Janvier residence at Sault-au-Récollet, Paré went with him. It was there that on 20 Jan. 1878 he died, attended by his venerable friend; he was buried in the vaults of the cathedral at Montreal.
The chorus of praise that was heard at his grave, which Bourget has preserved for us in a biographical account, bears witness to the fact that his contemporaries had understood the magnitude of the services rendered by Joseph-Octave Paré to the cause of the church in Montreal.
ACAM, RCD, 137; RDM, 7; RLB; 901.079. J.-B.-A. Allaire, Histoire de la paroisse de Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu (Canada) (Saint-Hyacinthe, Qué., 1905). [Ignace Bourget], Mémoire pour servir à l’histoire du chapitre de la cathédrale S. Jacques de Montréal (Montréal, 1882), 157–70; Notice historique sur la vie de M. Joseph-Octave Paré . . . (Montréal, 1878). Léon Pouliot, “Mgr Bourget et la reconstruction de la cathédrale de Montréal,” RHAF, XVII (1963–64), 340–62, 471–89; XVIII (1964–65), 30–38.