Born: 1809-07-30 Canada
Died: 1899-01-16 Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Flourished: Kankakee County, Illinois
Charles Chiniquy was a Roman Catholic priest, temperance reformer, Presbyterian minister, and author. Born in Kamouraska, Lower Canada, Chiniquy left his home to finish his primary school in the parish of Saint-Thomas (Montmagny). At the age of twelve, Chiniquy’s father, reputed to drink heavily, died suddenly. Chiniquy’s uncle took him into his home in Kamouraska, and in 1822, sent Chiniquy to study at the Séminaire de Nicolet. In 1829, Chiniquy began preparing for the priesthood, and in 1834, he received ordination as a priest. Between May 1834 and September 1838, Chiniquy served as assistant priest at Saint-Charles, Charlesbourg, and Saint-Roch in and around Quebec. He was also a chaplain at the Marine and Emigrant Hospital, where he saw the ravages of alcoholism and nurtured his commitment to temperance. In September 1838, Chiniquy became curé of the La Navtivité-de-Notre-Dame in Beauport, one of the largest and most affluent parishes in Quebec. Chiniquy spent the next four years fighting alcoholism in his and other surrounding parishes. In September 1842, Chiniquy became the assistant to the parish priest of Saint-Louis in Kamouraska. Chiniquy ascended to parish priest upon the death of his predecessor in April 1843. He continued to preach and publish on the evils of alcohol. Chiniquy entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in October 1846, arguing that he could not promote temperance as a parish priest. The truth, however, was that while preaching in Saint-Pascal, Chiniquy had been caught imposing his attentions on a housekeeper. The Oblates expelled Chiniquy in October 1847, and in 1848, Chiniquy commenced preaching against alcoholism in the diocese of Montreal. Over the next three years, Chiniquy preached over 500 sermons and inspired over 200,000 people to embrace temperance. Chiniquy’s misadventures with women forced the Bishop of Montreal to ask Chiniquy to leave his parish in 1851, and Chiniquy emigrated to the United States. Settling in St. Anne, Illinois, Chiniquy soon constructed a church, school, and presbytery. Chiniquy’s demand for French-Canadian priests to minister to French-Canadian immigrants put him at odds with Irish priests and bishops in Illinois, and in August 1856, the Bishop of Chicago suspended him. Despite his suspension, Chiniquy continued to say Mass and administer the sacraments, prompting the Bishop to excommunicate him in September 1856. After two years of rancor, the Bishop of Chicago upheld Chiniquy’s excommunication, and in August 1858, Chiniquy left the Catholic Church, taking his parish at St. Anne’s and others with him. In February 1860, the Presbyterian Church admitted Chiniquy as a minister. In June 1862, the Chicago presbytery suspended Chiniquy and relieved him of his ministerial duties. The Canada Presbyterian Church accepted him as a minister, and he continued his work in St. Anne. Chiniquy spent the rest of his life delivering sermons and writing books attacking the Catholic Church.
In January 1864, Chiniquy married Euphémie Allard. The couple had three children together.
Yves Roby, “Chiniquy, Charles,” Dictionary of Canadian Biography (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990), 12:189-93; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Kankakee County, 10 January 1864, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Gravestone, Cimetière Mont-Royal, Outremont, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.