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Diocese of Sherbrooke
Diocese in the Province of Quebec, suffragan of the Archdiocese of Montreal, erected by Pius IX, 28 Aug., 1874, formed of parts of the Dioceses of Three Rivers, St. Hyacinthe, and Quebec, and including that part of the Province of Quebec known as the Eastern Townships, renowned for the fertility of their soil, for their industry, and commerce. At present it comprises 74 parishes. The first missionaries who visited the territory now within the limits of the Diocese of Sherbrooke were Rev. Jean Raymbault (1816-23), John Holmes (1823-27), Michael Power (1827-31), Hugh Paisley (1831-32), Hubert Robson (1832-34). The last three died, martyrs of their zeal, attending the fever-stricken Irish in 1847. From 1834 till 1874 a great many missionaries labored with indefatigable zeal attending the Catholic population, which was thinly scattered over this immense tract of land. Roads in many places were unknown, and the missionaries had to travel on horseback or on foot, through dense forests infested with wolves, bears, and other savage animals.
BISHOPS OF SHERBROOKE
(1) Antoine Racine
Born at St. Ambrose, Quebec, 26 Jan., 1822; ordained priest at Quebec, 12 Sept., 1844; elected Bishop of Sherbrooke, 1 Sept., 1874; consecrated by Cardinal Taschereau, 18 Oct., 1874; governed the See of Sherbrooke during nineteen years, d. 17 July, 1893. The following extract from his funeral oration, delivered by Mgr. Bernard O'Reilly, gives us an idea of the precepts this good bishop fulfilled in his career: "Yes, I must be a bishop without stain or blemish in my whole life; a man adorned with every virtue, and with all the graces of wisdom; a man modest, affable and of the most perfect moderation in his lofty dignity; a man who is an enemy to contestation and trouble, an angel of peace and conciliation; a man who is a stranger to self-interest and generous toward the Church and the poor; a man full of the knowledge of Holy Writ, of the unction of the Divine Word in all his pastoral teaching; a man solely intent on sanctifying his people, on rearing a clergy of model priests by giving them in his own person the example of the most edifying zeal and of a shining piety".
(2) Paul S. La Rocque
Born at Sainte Marie de Monnoir, 28 Oct., 1846; ordained priest, 9 May, 1869; elected Bishop of Sherbrooke, 6 Oct., 1893; consecrated on the 30 Nov. of the same year. Bishop La Rocque has continued the good work undertaken by his predecessor, and Sherbrooke is progressing wonderfully.
When the diocese was erected, in 1874, there were but 28 secular priests and 26 parishes with resident priests; to-day there are 122 secular priests, 74 parishes, and 8 missions. The Catholic population in 1874 numbered 29,000; now it is 85 000. In 1874 there were only 130 schools with an attendance of 4000 pupils; now there are 369 schools, 1 college, 1 seminary, 12 academies, and 9 boarding-schools, with an attendance of 16,000 pupils. The Brothers of the Sacred Heart have 10 schools in the diocese. In all the principal towns there are convents wherein young girls get an excellent training. The different orders of nuns who have houses in the diocese are: Congregation de Notre Dame, Soeurs de la Presentation, Soeurs de l'Assomption, Soeurs des SS. Noms de Jesus-Marie, Filles de la Charite de Jesus, Soeurs de la Charite, Soeurs du Precieux Sang, Soeurs de la Sainte Famille, whose mother-house is in Sherbrooke. The Missionaires de la Salette have charge of the Sacred Heart Parish, Stanstead. The Redemptorist Fathers have also taken charge of a parish, and in the future their novitiate will be in Sherbrooke instead of Montreal. The Irish Brothers of the Presentation are opening a school in the city of Sherbrooke for the English speaking children. The diocese has also an Old Folks' Home, an Orphans' Home, and a hospital second to none in the Dominion of Canada.