Jacques Langlais’s Biography

Father Jacques Langlais c.s.c.
1921-2008

On January 8th 2008 in Montreal, Father Jacques Langlais of the Holy Cross Congregation, passed away. He founded the Monchanin Centre in 1963 (which became the Intercultural Institute of Montreal in 1990). Father Jacques Langlais has dedicated his life to dialogue with people of various religions and cultures. As a man of Peace throughout his life, he has remained faithful to the motto that he had given to the Monchanin Centre at its very foundation: “The hour has come for the feast of nations “.

In the early 1960s, Jacques Langlais, priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, poses very real action. He is inspired by the life and works of Jules Monchanin, a secular priest from Lyon, France, who lived in India, engaged in dialogue with Hinduism and founded a Christian ashram in Kulitalai south of India. Thus Jacques Langlais created Monchanin Centre: a meeting place for dialogue and information on world religions. It was incorporated in 1968. He served as the founder-director until 1970 and continued to be a honorary member of the Administrative Board.

1958-1968 Served as a member of Montreal’s Ecumenical Dialogue. Between 1964 and 1967, he collaborated with the Research Committee of the Chistian Pavillion, during the 1967 Terre des Hommes (Universal Fair)
1971-1979 Served as Secretary and President of the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion/Société Canadienne pour l’étude de la Religion
1976 Obtained Ph.D. at McMaster University and his thesis was on the Quebec Jesuits in China (1918-1955): their perception of Chinese traditions
1979-1992 Co-founder and secretary of the journal Medium, human sciences
1989-1998 With Dr. Victor Goldman, Pierre Anctil and Yolande Cohen, he founded a Forum for bringing closer together Quebeckers from Jewish and French ancestry: le Dialogue St-Urbain
1993-1998 Served as a member of the Judeo-Christian Dialogue Committee for the Catholic Church of Montreal
1997 National Honorary President of WCRP/Canada. He participated in the International Conference of WCRP on Nov. 24-26, 1997, at Havana, Cuba
1998 Founded, with the Conseil Québécois de la Paix, Educators for Peace group and participated in the organization of its first North-American congress in Montreal, August 21-23
2002 Named Member of the Order of Canada (C.M.)
2005 Named Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec (C.Q.).

Publications

Le Bouddha et les deux bouddhismes. Fides, 1976.

Les Jésuites du Québec en Chine (1919 – 1955). Québec, P.U.L., 1979.

Juifs et Québécois français, 200 ans d’histoire commune. Avec la collaboration de David Rome. Fides, 1986.

Le Québec de demain et les communautés culturelles. Avec la collaboration de Pierre Laplante et Yossi Levy. Éditions du Méridien, 1990.

Jews and French Quebeckers, Two Hundred Years of Shared History. Avec la collaboration de David Rome, traduction Barbara Young. Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1991.

Les Pierres qui parlent / Stones That Speak. Avec la collaboration de David Rome. Septentrion, 1991.

Du Village au monde : à la rencontre des cultures. Les Éditions Carte Blanche, 2000.

Homage to Jacques Langlais

The contribution Jacques Langlais, this giant of inter-religious dialogue for Peace, cannot be confined to his work at Centre Monchanin and at the Intercultural Institute of Montreal, of which he was the founder-director from 1963 to 1970, and subsequently served as a life-time councillor at its Administrative Board. He sparked fires of inter-religious and intercultural peace everywhere.

It is in that spirit that in 1963, he founded the Monchanin Center under the beautiful motto which has always remained attached to his person “The time has come for the feast of nations”.

He promoted the spirit of interpersonal dialogue between people of diverse religious and cultural background based on their personal experiences. He sought an approach to dialogue that would be complimentary to what is academic.
Jacques believed in a deeply pluralistic Quebec. He was deeply rooted in his culture but open to humanity’s treasures of wisdom. He was an altruist, generous, inspired and free-being.

All of his life and work has been marked by the triple seal of a faith enfleshed in the world, of a hope which prevented him from weakening and, specially, of a charity which kept him ever open and welcoming with regard to any person who called upon him.

Let us be faithful to him and, as he did, let us open together new-horizons. By reclaiming and living “the time has come for the feast of nations”, i.e. quebecois pluralism, Jacques and his spirit will then continue to live on through us all; the grace of his life will continue to inspire us and to nurture our own. Thus, we will witness his resurrection and he will continue to be ever present, alive and eternal, at the very heart of our lives.

Jacques! This will also be our way of continuing to express all of our gratitude.

Robert Vachon, Homage from IIM, 2008.

(…) He was a charming man, cultured, storyteller, humorist, sometimes poet and musician. Very faithful to his roots, he was also open to mankind’s treasures of wisdom. He remained free with regard to conventions, to established securities and to institutional constraints. In many ways, he was a traveler constantly on the move, an adventurer in search of new discoveries. His studies, readings, meetings kept him in constant evolution, open to the world, to beings, to new ideas, and open to what is different and foreign.

In brief, he was basically a man of the Gospel through the witness of his life. I have not hesitated to propose the Gospel of the beatitudes for his funeral because I think that his life has been a fine illustration of it.

Andre Charron, c.s.c., St-Joseph Oratory.
Excerpt from the homily during the funeral of Jacques Langlais, c.s.c. (14 janvier 2008)

 

For more information on the life and work of Jacques Langlais, please contact the Congregation of Holy Cross who holds the Archive Jacques Langlais.