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In Memoriam

Father Jacques Monet died peacefully in the Lord on Tuesday, May 14 at René Goupil House in Pickering, Ontario. He was in his 94th year and had been a Jesuit for 75 years. Jacques, the son of Fabio Monet and Anita Deland, was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec on 26 January 1930. The family moved to Montreal West where his father was a lawyer. This enabled Jacques to attend Loyola College and eventually led him to enter the Society on 7 September 1949. Following juniorate studies, he moved in 1953 to the seminary in downtown Toronto for philosophy. A two-year regency was spent at St. Mary’s
University, Halifax, teaching history, English and French. A strong desire to specialize in history led him to the University of Toronto from 1958 to 1963. Theology took place at Collège de l’Immaculée-Conception in Montreal. Jacques was ordained there on 9 June 1966. Tertianship took him in 1967 to the St. Beuno’s Centre in Wales.

On his return to Canada in 1968, Jacques was appointed lecturer of history at the University of Toronto, with teaching stints in Montreal and Sherbrooke. A major move occurred when Jacques accepted a professorship at the University of Ottawa in 1969, which lasted until 1982. During that time, from 1972 to 1977, he was chairman of the History Department. He returned to Toronto in 1982 to accept an appointment as President of Regis College and Professor of History. When his term ended in 1988, he became the founding director of the Canadian Institute of Jesuit Studies, located at the Provincial Office. He kept his teaching of history at Regis College until 1992, when he journeyed to north to be installed as President of the University of Sudbury, a post he held until 1999. He then returned to Toronto to become Director of the Jesuit Province Archives, joining the community at 2 Dale Avenue. When the archives moved to Montreal, he took up residence at Maison Bellarmin, but made regular trips to Toronto for ongoing business and appointments. He was acknowledged as a Jesuit Province historian and spent more time at the Provincial Office at Queen’s Park in Toronto. This occupied him until a sudden collapse brought him to the infirmary at Pickering at the end of April 2019.

Jacques was a specialist in Canadian constitutional and social history, as well as 19th century French Canadian nationalism, Church and Jesuit history. The Globe and Mail called Monet, “one of the foremost experts on the Crown in Canada.” He authored numerous scholarly articles in both English and French, and contributed entries to the dictionary of Canadian Biography and the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1983 the Catholic Register commissioned Jacques to write twenty long articles on Great Moments in Catholic History. He was also a television commentator for various events, including the visit of Pope John Paul ll in 1984; on Radio-Canada during Queen Elizabeth ll’s visits to Canada in 2002 and 2005; and during 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto. When Prime Minister Stephen Harper established a non-partisan “eminent persons” committee of six to provide a short-list of candidates to the post of Governor-General, one of the six was Jacques Monet, and the committee interviewed over 200 persons for suggestions. Most recently, Jacques served as executive editor for the three-volume history series on the Jesuits in English Canada. While he was president at Sudbury, he was appointed a Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques, an award created by Napoleon Bonaparte, to single out people who have committed themselves to French-speaking culture.

A gentleman par excellence, Jacques unfailingly remembered anniversaries of Jesuits, staff and colleagues, and the outcome for those celebrating were usually flowers, champagne and greeting cards. For years he signed hundreds of labels on wine bottles during meals he had shared with friends. A great raconteur, he usually had a long or short version of the same story. Always impeccably dressed, he was often seen with a red sweater across his shoulders, and the many postcards he posted were always written in red ink, never by ballpoint. He had a fervent dislike of technological gadgets and, never having learned to type, his essays were written long-hand to be later transcribed. As a young Jesuit he tried driving an automobile but gave up in frustration and so taxis and trains were his chosen mode of transportation. In honour of his patron saint, Jacques made several trips to Santiago de Compostela, not via the arduous Camino Walk, but arriving at the shrine by bus or automobile. At the end of a newspaper interview he was asked what his Jesuit life was like: “It is the most exciting vocation that I can think of and there has not been one dull moment in my life.”

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