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Diocese of Pembroke

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A suffragan of Ottawa, in Canada. The town of Pembroke has a beautiful location on the Ottawa River, about one hundred miles west of the City of Ottawa, in the midst of a rich farming and lumbering district. The locality is mentioned in the early history of Indian missions in Upper Canada; Champlain, when on a voyage of exploration of the Upper Ottawa, pitched his tent where now stands the Pembroke court house. The names of the early missionaries are lost, the first known being those of Fathers Dupins and Bellefeuille, Sulpicians of Montreal, who preached to the Indians of this region in 1836. The foundation of the mission there is ascribed to Father Lynch, and the first resident priest was Father Gillie, under whose direction the first church was begun in 1847. This soon proved inadequate and a more extensive stone structure was erected on a new site. In 1882 when Pembroke was chosen as the see of the new vicariate, plans, eventually carried out, were prepared to transform this church into the Cathedral of St. Columba. The diocese of Pembroke comprises the county of Renfrew, part of each of the counties of Frontenac, Addington, Hastings, and Haliburton, of the district of Nipissing in the Province of Ontario, and the southern part of the county of Pontiac in the Province of Quebec. This territory was separated from the Dioceses of Ottawa, Three Rivers, and St. Boniface, and erected into the Vicariate of Pontiac, 11 July, 1882. This immense district comprised a great portion of northern Ontario and Quebec, extending as far north as Hudson Bay, and east to the district of Keewatin. The work of colonization and development progressed so rapidly that, 4 May, 1898, the vicariate was erected into the Diocese of Pembroke with episcopal see at Pembroke. The remarkable growth of the northern districts, principally through the discovery of immense mineral wealth of gold and silver in the now renowned cobalt region, led to the formation of a new vicariate at Tenniscanning, 22 September, 1908.

Narcisse Zephyrin Lorrain, first Bishop of Pembroke, was born at St. Martin, Laval County, Quebec, 13 June, 1842. His early education was obtained in his own parish school and in 1855 he began his classical studies in the College of St. Therèse, from which he entered the Seminary of St. Therèse. Ordained at Montreal, 4 August, 1867, by Bishop Bourget, for two years he filled the duties of professor and director of his Alma Mater. In 1869 with Bishop Bourget's consent, he was appointed parish priest of Redford then in the Diocese of Albany, New York. He was recalled to Montreal in 1879 and in the following year was appointed vicar-general of that diocese. Two years later he was chosen vicar-general of the new Vicariate of Pontiac, and consecrated Bishop of Cythera, 21 September, 1882, in the church of Notre Dame, Montreal, and on the following day entered Pembroke, where he was to take his residence as Vicar Apostolic of Pontiac. When the vicariate was erected into a diocese he became its first bishop. The works and progress of the diocese under the administration of Bishop Lorrain are proofs of his untiring energy, apostolic zeal, and keen business ability. He visited the Indian missions of the north five times. In 1884 he covered a distance of fifteen hundred miles to the missions of Abbitibbi, Moose Factory, and Albany, and in 1887 in visiting the missions of the St. Maurice he made a voyage of seventeen hundred miles, which like the first and the other three, was for the most part made in canoe or on foot.

The diocese numbers: about 37,000 Catholics; 27 parishes with resident priests, and 15 assistant priests; missions, 34; stations 17, chapels, 7. Of the clergy 38 are seculars and 4 Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Among the communities of women connected with works of charity and education are: the Grey Nuns of the Cross, Sisters of St. Joseph, Sisters of Providence, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Family. Two large and well-equipped hospitals are conducted by the first mentioned community. The separate school system enjoyed throughout the diocese gives to all a good opportunity for primary and religious instruction, while the higher education of young men is obtained principally at the University of Ottawa. There are 5 academies with 1200 pupils; 71 parochial schools with 13,270 pupils.

About this page

APA citation. Letang, H. (1911). Diocese of Pembroke. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Letang, Henry. "Diocese of Pembroke." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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