Categories: Male Authors - Authors of Non-Fiction - Acadian Coast
Monseigneur (Mgr.) Donat Robichaud was a prominent priest, genealogist, and historian from Pointe-Brûlée, NB. He was born Joseph Donat Robichaud on October 6, 1924. He began attending the seminary in Bathurst at just 10 years old, and by the age of 18 had earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Université du Sacre-Coeur in the spring of 1943. In fall of that year, he began attending the Holy Heart of Mary Seminary in Halifax, Nova Scotia, completing his studies at the age of 21. The canonical age to be ordained as a priest was 24, so a special dispensation from Rome had to be issued for Mgr. Robichaud. His ordination took place on September 20, 1947.
In his early years as a priest, Mgr. Robichaud served many parishes in northern New Brunswick: East Bathurst, Dalhousie, Caraquet, Tracadie, Petit-Rocher, and Atholville. From there, he was hired as a professor at the Petit Séminaire Saint-Charles in Bathurst in 1964. In 1971, he became priest of the parish of Beresford, a position he held until his retirement in 1987; however, this retirement did not last long. Mgr. Robichaud became priest of the parish in Paquetville in 1987 until 2000, at which point he officially retired from the priesthood.
During his time as a priest, Mgr. Robichaud was involved in many projects in his community. In 1985 and again in 1989, he served as the Diocesan Administrator for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bathurst. He also served as editor of the Revue d’histoire for the Société historique Nicolas-Denys, a historical society which he co-founded in 1969. He served as the society’s president from 1979-1995, and continued editing for the Revue d’histoire until his death in 2009.
One of Mgr. Robichaud’s passions was genealogy. One of his most significant contributions to the field was through the publication of baptism, marriage, and death records from several parishes in northeastern New Brunswick. He also catalogued information from the Gloucester County registry and published summaries of articles from a number of New Brunswick newspapers. These publications have since become essential resources for people conducting historical research, notably genealogical research, in the province of New Brunswick. In 1991, Mgr. Robichaud received an Honorary Doctorate in History from the Université de Moncton for his contributions.
Mgr. Donat Robichaud passed away on August 8, 2009 at the Bathurst Hospital Centre after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind a prolific legacy in New Brunswick and is buried in his home parish in Shippagan. The public library in Beresford, the parish where he served as priest for 16 years, is named the Mgr. Robichaud Public Library in his honour. Furthermore, the archives of the Société historique Nicolas-Denys is named the Centre d’archives et de recherche Mgr Donat Robichaud as an acknowledgement of Mgr. Robichaud’s life’s work.