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Reverend Gaston Carriere, O.M.I

THE FULL CONTENT OF A BOOK IS NOT REVEALED until its reading is completed. Likewise, the unity and the development of a man's life cannot be detected at the outset of one's activities.

From the time I was old enough to think for myself, I desired to be a priest and a professor. By the grace of God, I became both. I wanted to be a priest because I felt the call of God, but I think I was much influenced in my second choice by the example of my older brothers and sisters, who had already chosen this profession or were training to devote themselves to the cause of Catholic education.

My father, Adélard Carriére, and my mother, although they never had the privilege of a college education, made the necessary sacrifices in order that we would be blessed with such an education. They were greatly recompensed because it turned out that the majority of their children are now professors.

I began my grade school in my native village of Curran, Ontario, and although my father died when I was nine (I was born on March 21, 1913, last child of a family of nine), I was fortunate enough to continue my schooling in Ottawa. I was about to enter the Minor Seminary of Ottawa when I heard of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. I always had desired to be a priest, as I said before, but until that time the idea of joining a religious order had never entered my mind. In 1926, I therefore entered the Juniorate du Sacrê-Coeur, a minor seminary for the training of Oblate vocations, where I attended the lectures of the High School of the College of Ottawa and later the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ottawa.

During that period I became interested especially in foreign languages and in the history of the Oblate Fathers. I would have laughed at anyone who, at that time, would have told me that one day the history of the Oblates would become one of the main occupations of my life.

In 1932, I formally joined the Congregation by entering the Novitiate at the end of which I took the first vows in 1933. Registered in the School of Philosophy of the University of Ottawa in the early days of September, I was soon after transferred to the International Scholasticate in Rome, where I studied philosophy and theology, graduating from the Angelicum and the Gregorian University, and attending the lectures of the Scuola di Biblioteconomia established at the Vatican Library.

In midsummer of 1940, a year after my ordination to the priesthood, my superiors appointed me professor in the School of Philosophy of the University of Ottawa and librarian at the Scholasticat St. Joseph. One of my dreams became true and I have taught History of Ancient Philosophy ever since. I was also secretary of the Socièté Thomiste from 1947 to 1956.

How I came to write is somewhat mysterious. Before leaving the Eternal City a professor of the Library School of the Vatican invited some of my confreres to prepare a French version of the world-famous cataloguing code of the Vatican Library, Norme per il catalogo degli stampati. I encouraged them to accept the proposition and as a consequence was carried into the work myself. Due to delays occasioned by the war and the postwar, the translation done with Fathers Paul-Emile Drouin, O.M.I., and Bernard Julien, O.M.I., under the title of Règles pour le catalogue des imprimés, was not published till 1950.

This first experience should have discouraged me, because no sooner was the translation finished than it had to be revised to harmonize with a new edition printed in Europe in the meantime.

Other books were to follow this one. Before them however, I had written articles for various periodicals. A section of my doctoral dissertation published in 1945 in the Revue de l'Université d'Ottawa, my first scientific paper, was to be followed by many others in the same periodical. From then on, I contributed papers on Plotinus in such reviews as The Thomist, The New Scholasticism, L'Anee Thdologique (Paris), Divus Thomas (Piacenza), and Revista de Filosofia (Madrid).

In 1947, I was appointed to the editorial staff of the Revue tie l'Universite d'Ottawa and since then have contributed several historical and philosophical articles to it as well as the Chronique universitaire section.

A few of my lectures at the School of Philosophy were published in mimeographed form for private use and my Précis tie Méthodologie appeared in 1951 and was favorably received by the critics.

1952 brought a change in my career when my superiors entrusted me with the writing of the history of the Oblates in Eastern Canada. I was brought back to a subject I had enjoyed very much in college. The task was great since the history had to cover the apostolate of the Oblates in a territory extending from the boundary of the Province of Manitoba to Newfoundland, including the missions of James Bay and Labrador, as well as the work of the Congregation in the United States until the year 1883. At the time it would have been impossible to tell exactly how many books would find their origin in the work.

Since beginning the work, almost all my time had been devoted to it. Besides traveling to nearly every part of Canada, many sections of the United States, and Europe, visiting hundreds of archives to find the necessary documents and doing most of the microfilming myself, the task of writing has been considerable. Three volumes of the Histoire docurnentaire de la Congregation des Missionnaires Oblats de Marie-Immaculée dans l'Est du Canada (1841-1900) have already been published and the manuscript for the whole of the history is now completed. It will consist of ten volumes of some four-hundred pages each.

The vast amount of material gathered for this general history gave me the necessary information for several smaller books, mostly biographies of prominent missionaries. These have already been published: L'Honorable Compagnie de la Baie d'Hudson et les Missions catholiques dans l'Est du Canada, Le Roi de Betsiamites (Rev. Fr. Charles Arnaud), Le Pere Louis Reboul, O.M.I., Un apôtre a Québec (Rev. Fr. Flavien Durocher), L'Arpenteur du bon Dieu (Bishop Louis Rhéaume), Un grand Educateur (Rev. Fr. René Lamoureux), and Und grand Missionnaire de la Mauricie (Rev. Fr. Jean-Pierre Guéguen). A few others are in manuscript or in process of being written and will appear in the next two or three years.

hi 1958, I was asked to prepare an extensive biography of Bishop Ovide Charlebois, O.M.I., first Vicar Apostolic of Keewatin in northern Manitoba. The manuscript of this lengthy work is now well advanced.

A few of my bibliographical papers were also printed in Etudes Oblates and in Culture while many brief articles on Canadian and American dioceses appeared in Enciclopedia Cattolica and Dictionnaire de Theologie catholique. Others will soon be published in Dictionnaire de Spiritualite.

This has been the leisure of my recent years, besides a few lectures at meetings of various historical and philosophical societies. Although it may seem that I wrote on many subjects, a certain unity can be found. My literary career was centered on three points of interest: history of philosophy, history of the Oblates in Canada, and bibliography.

As in the life of every man, and of every religious in particular, it is clear that Providence had its designs which were revealed to me piecemeal through the guidance of my religious superiors. Had I foreseen or been told in advance the amount of work involved, I would probably never have had the courage even of making a start, but due to the mercy of God, the pattern of my life, during these recent years, was slowly manifested to me.

As for the future, I have a few more biographies I hope to be able to write, but before that, no doubt, the voice of obedience will be heard again and will possibly direct me into some as yet unknown activity. As I said in the beginning, the full content of a book is not revealed until its reading is completed, so with a man's life.

Originally published in The Book of Catholic Authors, Walter Romig, Sixth Series, 1960.


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