RESCHE (Rêche, Reiche, Reische), PIERRE-JOSEPH, parish priest, organist of the cathedral of Quebec, canon; b. 12 June 1695 at Quebec, son of François Resche and Marguerite Pinard; d. 2 April 1770 at Quebec.
Pierre-Joseph Resche entered the third form at the Petit Séminaire of Quebec on 20 Oct. 1711, when he was 16. He was admitted into the seminary in 1716 and received the tonsure on 4 Oct. 1717, the minor orders and subdiaconate in 1719. On 16 March 1720 he was made a deacon, and on 18 August he was ordained a priest in the cathedral of Quebec.
In October 1720 he was entrusted with the ministry to the mission of Saint-Nicolas, near Quebec, a charge he kept even when he became parish priest for Saint-Antoine de Tilly in November 1720. He had to deal with large administrative problems, since it had become necessary either to restore or to rebuild the church and the presbytery in both parishes; consequently in February 1721 he stopped serving Saint-Nicolas. The annexation of part of the neighbouring fiefs to the parish district of Saint-Antoine, decreed by the Conseil d’État on 3 March 1722, was the source of repeated litigation between the habitants of these fiefs and Abbé Resche, whom the habitants refused to recognize as parish priest. From 1721 to 1727 intendants Bégon and Dupuy* issued no fewer than four ordinances to force the parishioners to pay the parish priest the tithes and other sums due him for administering the sacraments.
After the death in 1733 of the parish priest of Quebec, Étienne Boullard*, Abbé Resche was sent to assist the curate, Charles Plante, in administering the parish. He spent eight years there. A few months before he left Quebec he was the object, with his confrère Roger-Chrétien Le Chasseur, of an appointment which until then had been unknown in the religious history of Canada. On 7 Nov. 1740 the chapter, which had no intention of giving up what it considered to be its rights and privileges, appointed both of them titular or perpetual curates of the parish of Quebec. Only the complete legal union of the parish of Quebec with the chapter would have justified such a decision. Consequently these appointments appeared unacceptable to Charles Plante, who had been titular parish priest of Quebec since April 1739. He affirmed in writing the invalidity of the appointment and forbade the two ecclesiastics, who had become almost his equals and whom the chapter had imposed upon him, to exercise the functions of curate in his parish. The two interdicted priests delivered their riposte before the provost court of Quebec, and Abbé Resche had in addition the impertinence to call himself titular curate in a baptismal certificate which he signed 11 Feb. 1741. Plante, the parish priest, immediately had the word “titular” stroked out.
The chapter itself, however, seemed to change its mind, for on 20 Feb. 1741 it appointed Abbé Resche parish priest of Château-Richer. The act of taking possession of the charge was delayed until 9 April as a result of the scheming of Canon Joachim Fornel, secretary of the chapter, who refused to issue Resche’s letters of appointment because he had wanted his friend Le Chasseur nominated. The dispute, however, constantly stirred up by Fornel, degenerated into a quarrel over tithes between Abbé Resche and his predecessor, Louis-François Soupiran; the litigation was taken by Fornel to the Conseil Supérieur, which rejected his claim. The sketch of the first plan for the village of Château-Richer, made around 1752, is attributed to Resche. Three years earlier he had had a presbytery built, thus bringing into question the ownership of the seigneurial manor-house, which had served as the presbytery until then. He carried on unsuccessfully the lawsuit that ensued between the parish council and the seminary of Quebec.
To replace Fornel, who had resigned his canonry, not without reason, Abbé Resche was appointed canon on 28 Sept. 1752 and moved to Quebec. His skill as a musician had perhaps induced the chapter to accept him into its ranks, since it saw in him an honourable incumbent for the majestic organ which the canons had ordered from Paris and which was installed in the cathedral in 1753. According to the historian Auguste-Honoré Gosselin*, Canon Resche was one of the foremost musicians in Quebec. He had, moreover, been organist at the cathedral while he was a curate in Quebec, from 1733 to 1741.
In 1755 he became chaplain at the Ursuline convent, where his musical accomplishments were also recognized and appreciated. On the occasion of great celebrations by the community, it was said, he was invited to play the organ. At the convent he occupied the parlour of the Holy Family, previously reserved for noble ladies who were staying there; after the siege of Quebec these apartments served on more than one occasion as chapter room for the serious deliberations which administration of the church of Quebec made necessary. At the height of the siege of Quebec Resche refused to leave the convent, although most of the community had had to seek refuge at the Hôpital Général. Canon Charles-Ange Collet had come to join him. The historian Henri-Raymond Casgrain*, confusing the spelling of names as well as persons, wrote that the parish priest of Quebec, Abbé Resche, officiated at Montcalm’s burial on the evening of 14 Sept. 1759. Leaving aside the fact that the parish priest of Quebec at that time was M. Jean-Félix Récher, the chronicles of the period do not mention explicitly, any more than do the other remaining documents, the circumstances surrounding the burial. Nevertheless the burial certificate, which indicates that Montcalm had received the succour of religion before his death, bears the name of Canon Resche as principal signer. It is therefore reasonable to believe that he assisted the dying man and officiated at his funeral.
After being chaplain to the Ursulines for 12 years Canon Resche retired in 1767 to the home of his nephew Charles Berthelot. The chapter, which he had in turn served as syndic and treasurer, had been paying him a pension since 1766. In 1769, stricken with paralysis, he was taken to the Hôpital Général of Quebec where, after 50 years in the priesthood, he died on 2 April 1770. He was buried the following day in the church of the convent.
AAQ, 12 A, Registres d’insinuations B, 336–37; 12 A, Registres d’insinuations C, 16–23, 83; 10 B, Registre des délibérations; 61 CD, Notre-Dame de Québec, I, 7. ASQ, mss, 2; Polygraphie, XXV, 5; Séminaire, XXXVI, 14–29. Tanguay, Dictionnaire. H.-R. Casgrain, Guerre du Canada, 1756–1760: Montcalm et Lévis (2v ., Québec, 1891), II, 274. Raymond Gariépy, Le village du Château-Richer (SHQ Cahiers d’histoire, XXI, Québec, 1969), 115–17. Gosselin, L’Église du Canada jusqu’à la conquête, II, III; L’Église du Canada après la conquête, I. P.-G. Roy, Fils de Québec, I, 149–50; La ville de Québec, II. Les Ursulines de Québec (1866–1878), II, 323; III, 10, 44–46. Archange Godbout, “Les prêtres Resche,” BRH, XLIX (1943), 170–72.