Father René Désilets was born June 6, 1936 in Saint-Wenceslas, Québec (Canada). He is from a family of eleven children, most of whom have remained attached to the land. René joined the Institute in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood June 22, 1963.
That same year, Father Désilets was appointed director of studies at our Philosophate in Trois-Rivières, a position he would hold until 1967. From 1969 to 1973, he taught at the Université du Québec at Trois-Rivières. From 1970 to 1980, he served as Director General of the Voluntas Dei Institute, taking over from our Founder Father Louis-Marie Parent. In 1981 he left for the Dominican Republic. He was District Director there for two terms,from 1981 to 1987, and 1990 to 1998. He returned to Canada in early 2000 and helped in the central administration of the Institute as Director of Administrative Services (2002-2004). He then returned to the Dominican Republic where he is still today, labouring as a missionary priest.
Under Father Désilet’s mandate as Director General (1970-1980), the Institute underwent many changes. In 1971, the major seminary at Red Rapids was closed. In 1972, the Vocation and Mission office was established to help the Institute in its rapid missionary development throughout the world. In 1974, the Philosophate at Trois-Rivières was closed, and that same year the direction of the Institute was decentralised. Districts and regions were formed. In 1975, the Louis-Marie Parent Foundation was created, and it contributes to this day to the formation of seminarians in mission countries. Finally, in the middle of the Seventies the first couples were welcomed to the Institute.