Born in Verdun on October 2, 1927, Jean-Baptiste does his classical studies at the Collège Bourget of Rigaud, from 1942 to 1949. He then enters the noviciate and scholasticate of the Clercs de Saint-Viateur. He is ordained a priest on June 17, 1954. He teaches for thirty-five years, from 1954 to 1989, in the same school in Outremont. Throughout his whole career as a teacher, you may detect his creative breath and thirst for truth. He is full of fire and has a way of speaking to students that awakens their curiosity, thanks to his personal capacity to popularize scientific knowledge. Whether he explains the photosynthesis of the leaf, the blooming of the boletus or the caterpillar’s metamorphosis, the class responds with the same awe as if he were a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat!
Aware of youth’s interest for all nature issues, he desires to share his knowledge and expertise in biology, ecology and geography more at large, outside the normal school structure and school year programs. He therefore decides to buy a piece of land in Charlevoix, on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, and in 1960 founds the Ecology Camp of Saint-Viateur, in Port-au-Saumon (Saint-Fidèle, Qc). Father Genest will exercise his leadership in this environment in a remarkable way, by showing great trust in his collaborators and in his young campers. Meeting with Fr Genest was always an occasion to be boosted in one’s own talents. He knew how to reveal to others their truest self and open new perspectives for them. Several ex-students of his, as the filmmaker Bernard Émond, witnessed the important role he played in their lives as an educator who allowed them to open up to the beauties of the world and discover contemplation.
Father Jean-Baptiste Genest died on February 13, 2015. The camp he founded in Port-au-Saumon still exists. There, on a big stone, you will find an inscription with this quotation from Father Jean-Baptiste: “My main concern is to insist on the beauties of life. I believe that if I am able to awaken in them a sense of wonder of trees, animals and plants, then they will love life and will want to protect it. »