Born: Roscoff (Finistère), June 15, 1837.
Took the habit: Nancy, February 16, 1860.
Vows: Montolivet, May 19, 1861 (N. 546).
Priestly ordination: Marseille, March 15, 1862.
Died: New Westminster, Canada, January 23, 1899.
Jean-Marie Le Jacq was born in Roscoff, diocese of Quimper, on June 15, 1837. His parents were Guy Le Jacq and Guillemette Gilet. He studied at the minor seminary of Saint-Pol-de-Léon and the major seminary of Quimper before entering the Oblate novitiate of Notre-Dame de l’Osier on February 16, 1860. He made his perpetual profession in the scholasticate of Montolivet on May 19, 1861. He was the last Oblate to take final vows during the lifetime of Bishop de Mazenod. He was ordained priest in the church of Le Calvaire by Bishop Patrice Cruice of Marseilles on March 15, 1862. There is no mention of him in the reports of the novice master or the moderator of scholastics but their opinions have been summarized in the Personnel register of 1862. The following note is added after his name: “small in height but robust and in good health. Pious and ardent. A strong and cheerful character. Docile and courageous. His talents are above average and he has an aptitude for preaching. Account has been taken of his desire to go on the missions and, on September 2, he set out for Oregon, having spent five months in England.”
He stayed for a while in Lys Marie (Sicklinghall) and then set out for British Colombia where he worked, first of all, in Victoria (1862-1863). There he ministered to the Irish population and visited the Indians of Esquimalt. He then went to Fort Rupert on Victoria Island (1863-1866) and from there he visited the Queen Charlotte Islands (1864), then Mission City (1867-1868) and Williams Lake (1868-1873). He founded the mission of Fort Saint James, at Stuart Lake (1873-1880). He was then entrusted with the mission of Kamloops (1880-1891) and from there he returned to Williams Lake (1891-1898). Therefore he ministered throughout the district of Kamloops.
The author of his necrology note says that he had “an extraordinary aptitude” for languages “but he was especially known for “his courage, which withstood every test, for his astonishing strength of character which enabled him to withstand all the threats of the native peoples, and all the dangers of the elements. How many, indeed, were the dangers he faced, on land, on sea, on the lakes, on the rivers, among the mountains? Only God knows the answer! Perfectly modest, he never boasted and never spoke of his exploits. Once he arrived back in the house he became the man of rule. He applied himself punctually to the religious exercises, giving his confreres and his subjects the perfect example of regularity.”
When his health forced him to retire, he spent the last years of his life in New Westminster, British Colombia (1898-1899) where he died on January 23, 1899. He is buried in the Oblate cemetery of Mission City. His memory has been preserved in the lands that he evangelized and he has been given the name: “the prince of Indian missionaries”. An Indian school, a post office and a lake in British Colombia have been named in his honour.
and Gaston Carrière, o.m.i.