DUPARC, JEAN-BAPTISTE, Jesuit, superior of the Jesuit missions in New France; b. 18 June 1676 in the diocese of Chartres, France, son of Claude Duparc de Tenanguer, and Jeanne de Meur; d. 31 Jan. 1742 at Quebec.
Jean-Baptiste Duparc descended from an old noble family which had an estate at Saint-Jacut-du-Mené (dept. of Côtes-du-Nord), France. He entered the Jesuit noviciate in Paris on 28 Sept. 1695; previously he had done three years of philosophical and one of theological studies. From 1697 to 1702 he taught in succession the classes in grammar, classics, and rhetoric at the Jesuit college in Tours, then from 1702 to 1706 he again studied theology at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris.
In 1707 he sailed for New France and came to live at the Jesuit college in Quebec, where he taught philosophy and theology until 1715. At the same time Father Duparc preached in the church of the college and acquired a reputation for his sermons. He did not leave the college except to visit the sick, the hospitals, and the prisons. His apostolic zeal found a unique opportunity among the English prisoners at Quebec, most of whom were Protestants. Soon he was studying their language, and he mastered it so well after a few months that he was able in 1709 to invite them to weekly, then daily meetings. He had much success and the converts to Catholicism were numerous. “Nearly all of them have been converted,” wrote Father Antoine Silvy* to the general of the Jesuits in Rome on 24 Oct. 1710. In 1715 Duparc’s activities as preacher, confessor at the Jesuits’ church, director of the Congrégation des Hommes, and minister (assistant to the superior) of the college of Quebec obliged him to give up his teaching, which was taken over by Father Louis-Bertrand Gérard. In 1714 he had become confessor to Bishop Saint-Vallier [La Croix*]. Even if he had wanted to devote himself to the missions to the Indians, his health would not have permitted him to do so. His whole career as a priest was spent at Quebec and Montreal.
In 1726 he took on a new responsibility, that of superior of the Jesuit missions in New France and rector of the college of Quebec. Problems were not lacking: the field for missionary activities was growing with the expansion of the French empire in America, but the number of missionaries was decreasing, for the more promising missions in the Far East had a greater attraction for the young missionaries. In addition the mission to the Abenakis in Acadia was threatened by the English, and within the colony itself the traditional esteem the Jesuits enjoyed was declining because of the quarrels over Jansenism in Europe and over the Chinese rites, quarrels which had repercussions as far as Quebec. The dispute at the time of Bishop Saint-Vallier’s funeral gave certain members of the clergy the opportunity to display their sentiments against the Jesuits: some of them were dismissed from their duties as confessor to the nuns in the capital; the procession which for 68 years had been made to the Jesuits’ church in tribute to the services rendered the church in Canada by the priests of the society was abolished. During this quarrel, which went on for eight months between the canons [see Boullard*] and the intendant, Dupuy*, the Jesuits endeavoured to keep peace.
In September 1732 Father Duparc again assumed his office as confessor and preacher at the Jesuits’ church in Quebec; then in 1733 he went to Montreal, where he carried out the same duties. In 1741 he returned to Quebec, and on 31 Jan. 1742, just as he was finishing a sermon, he died suddenly. In the letter announcing his death Father Jean-Baptiste de Saint-Pé emphasized the dead man’s great charity, his fondness for mortification, and the regularity of his religious life, which he carried to the point of doubt and mental struggle.
ASJCF, 579bis; Fonds Rochemonteix, 4018. Melançon, Liste des missionnaires jésuites. Dubé, Claude-Thomas Dupuy, 235 [The author of this work asserts that the Jesuits of Montreal blamed their Quebec confrères for taking sides in the 1728 quarrel between the chapter and Intendant Dupuy and states that the reproof is supposed to have been presented by a Jesuit named Cabrara. This name does not appear on any list of Jesuits in New France. j.c.]. Rochemonteix, Les Jésuites et la N.-F. au XVIIIe siècle, I, 135–45. Henri Têtu, Notices biographiques: les évêques de Québec (Québec, 1889), 178–79.