On October 1, 1674 the Diocese of Québec was established. From the 1660's through the 1790's all Catholics of English North America came under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Quebec.
With the seat of the Diocese was located in Quebec. The Diocese of Quebec was responsible for a vast territory that we know today as the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan.
Regarded as mission territory, the Maritime region of what we know as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, consisted of small villages. Because of the great distances between some of these settlements they were frequently ministered to by itinerant missionaries rather than by resident priests.
A complex situation existed given that in addition to the Acadians, the English, Scots and Irish as well as the Maliseet and Mi'kmaq Natives lived in the same areas. Because of these ethnic and language differences, priests were recruited from France, Quebec, Ireland and Scotland.
It could not have been easy to recruit missionaries who would be willing to minister in such a vast territory that contained such a colorful but different ethnicity. Moreover, they were being asked to live in wilderness areas, something unknown to them.
New Brunswick Catholics were ministered to from four missions: Caraquet, Memramcook, Mirimichi and St. Basile. At the time Miramichi and Caraquet regions could be accessed by ships from the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The St. John River area Catholics were ministered to by the priest at St. Basile and could be reached by portage from the St. Lawrence River. Founded on December 12, 1792, Father François Ciquard became its pastor in 1794. Founded in 1781, the first resident priest at Memramcook was Father Joseph Thomas François Le Rous named to this post in 1785. Charged with ministering to the Church of Memramcook and its missions, he had previously ministered to the Catholics of the Magdelene Islands as well as Prince Edward Island. Founded in 1784,the parish of Caraquet continued to flourish under the leadership of Father Rene Pierre Joyer who was appointed pastor in 1798.
© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
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