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Devine, Edward J.
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Edward J. Devine, S.J., was born on March 3, 1860 to John Devine and Marina McDonnell in Bonnechere Point, Upper Canada (now Castleford, Ontario). Father Devine was educated in Ottawa and worked as a printer in New York prior to his entry to the Society of Jesus on September 4, 1879 at Sault-au-Récollet. His decade of studies sparked an interest in church history, particularly concerning Jesuit martyrs in Canada. Father Devine moved to the new Scolasticat de l'Immaculée-Conception in 1885, where he pushed for the purchase of a Peerless Press in order to print Jesuit material; this included the Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart.
From 1885 to 1889, Father Devine had the opportunity to work with Collège St. Marie’s archivist Arthur E. Jones, S.J., and used archival material to assess the total value of confiscated Jesuit estates. As a result of their work, the provincial government of Honoré Mercier compensated the Society of Jesus with $160,000, and a bill seeking to disallow the Jesuits’ Estates Act was defeated in the House of Commons. Father Devine was ordained on July 14, 1889, in Montreal.
Father Devine served the missions located along the Canadian Pacific Railway on the north shore of Lake Superior from 1893 to 1899. Afterwards, he returned to Montreal to become the editor of the Canadian Messenger. He also worked as a spiritual guide and facilitated retreats.
In 1902, Father Devine was assigned to the Jesuits’ Alaska mission. He described his travels in the “Alaskan Letters,” which were published in the Canadian Messenger and eventually developed into Across widest America, Newfoundland to Alaska: With the impressions of two years’ sojourn on the Bering coast (published in 1905). This began a period of prolific writing and publishing about religious travel and Canadian Jesuit history, which largely took place in Montreal after his return in 1905. Titles include Fireside Messages: Adapted for reading in Catholic Homes (1911), Historic Caughnawaga (1922), Our Tour Through Europe (1923), and The Jesuit Martyrs of Canada (originally published in 1923 as The Canadian Martyrs).
A longtime member of the Canadian Authors Association, Father Devine also accomplished significant work as editor of the Canadian Messenger, establishing the magazine along with its renewed focus on missionary work and a renewed sense of papal loyalty. He wrote many of the Canadian Messenger’s articles about the monthly intentions selected by the pope, and guided the magazine’s discussion of important religious topics and Catholic social thought.
Although he was involved in numerous organizations, his most notable contribution was his appearance before the apostolic commission on the holiness of the Jesuit martyrs in Quebec City in 1922. His testimony led to the beatification of eight Jesuit martyrs in 1925 (Jean de Brébeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Isaac Jogues, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, Noël Chabanel, René Goupil, and Jean de La Lande). Two years later, on November 5, 1927, Father Devine died in Toronto.