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The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Canterbury Provincial District]

The Very Rev. Theophilus Le Menant Des Chesnais

The Very Rev. Theophilus Le Menant Des Chesnais, L.M., VicarGeneral and Administrator of the Diocese of
Father Le Menant Des Chesnais.

Father Le Menant Des Chesnais.

Christchurch, was born on the 6th of November, 1836, in Brittany, in France. He was educated at St. Vincent's College, Rennes, Ille et Vilaine, and at the Little Seminary at St. Meen; ordained by his Eminence Godfrey St. Marc. Archbishop of Rennes, in 1860, and made his religions profession in the Society of Mary, on the 29th of April, 1866. Father des Chesnais ministered for over nine years at Spitalfields, London, and was engaged for one year in missionary work in the French diocese of Agen at Notre Dame de Bonne Encontre. He was instructed by his superior to proceed to Sydney, New South Wales, where for five years he ministered in the parish of St. Patrick's. He also did missionary work in the dioceses of Bathurst, Goulburn, Armidale and Maitland. In the year 1882 he came to the arch-diocese of Wellington, where he was appointed to do missionary work. The archdiocese then included the present diocese of Christchurch, and Father des Chesnais held mission services in every parish throughout that large district. It was he who established the parish of St. Mary's in Christchurch, where he built the present church and schools, and introduced that noble band of workers, the Sisters of Mercy. Twice he has been sent as a delegate to Europe, once on behalf of St. Patrick's College, Wellington, and again on behalf of the Society of Mary. From Christchurch he moved to Hastings, where he established a convent of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Father Des Chesnais replaced the Very Rev. Father Ginaty in the administration of the Pro-Cathedral parish when that philanthropic priest started the Mount Magdala Asylum. When the health of the late Vicar-General, the Very Rev. Father Cummings, broke down, Father des Chesnais, who was then ministering at Temuka with Father Fauvel, was invited by the Bishop to become vicar-general and administrator of the Pro-Cathedral parish, and he still occupies that high position. Father des Chesnais, in addition to being a man of fine scholarly attainments, has a special talent for organisation, and carries out the duties of his office with dignity and thoroughness and great advantage to the church.