Br Claude-Marie to Fr Champagnat, Brest, 25 January 1840
Br Claude-Marie (Jean-Claude Bertrand 1813-1893) entered the Hermitage as a postulant in 1835 and made perpetual profession in October 1836. When he received notification from Champagnat that he had been chosen for the Oceania mission in January 1840, he was director of a small orphanage in St Chamond. Victor Dugas, a friend and benefactor of Champagnat, was one of the administrators of this orphanage (rf Champagnat's letter to him 19 October 1839. Sl 519-20). Br Ammon (Claude Duperron 1811 - 1840), a postulant in September 1837 and perpetually professed in October 1838, was on the staff of the Denuziere orphanage in Lyon. His missionary career was to be a very short one - he left the Society a month after arrival in New Zealand. The two priests in this fourth group were Frs Jean Pezant (l811-1880) and Jean-Andre Tripe (b 1797). While Pezant died in New Zealand after a long missionary career, Tripe returned to France in 1843 and did not continue with the Marists. This group had been fortunate to obtain free passage on the corvette “Aube” under Captain Lavaud which was escorting settlers from France for a proposed colony at Akaroa in the South Island. Having just received this letter and announcing their departure in his Circular of 4 February l840, Champagnat wrote: "Let us continue, very dear Brothers, to pray to the Lord in a special way for our worthy mission of Polynesia, so that the good God will bring about the triumph of the true faith and confound heresy in those vast regions confided to the Society of Mary. We recommend especially the two priests, Fathers Pezant and Tripe, and our dear Brothers Claude-Marie and Ammon who leave the port of Brest at the beginning of this month on their way to New Zealand. This latest departure is due to the generosity of the government which has offered our missionaries four free places on board the corvette Aube" (Sl 581-2). Actually, the “Aube” left Brest, the naval base on the channel coast, on 19th February.
Text of the Letter
- Very Reverend Father,
- Allow one of your children in Jesus Christ to say a few words to you before leaving France for Polynesia. I cannot go further without letting you know how grateful I am to you for choosing me as one of the lucky ones setting out for New Zealand. I thank you very sincerely for this favour.
- I left St Chamond on the 6th as you directed. I was fortunate enough to see Mr Dugas before my departure but greatly regret not having been able to say goodbye to the good parish priest of St Peters who was saying Mass. I stayed three days in Lyon to arrange our affairs and I left for Paris on the 10th with Br Ammon. We reached Paris on the 13th and went to the Seminary for the Foreign Missions where we found Frs Pezant and Tripe who had preceded us by several days. After staying in Paris 3 days on various business we took a carriage and reached Brest on the 19th. We are still in this town. Fortunately, the weather has not been the best so we have been able to check our luggage and secure provisions for the voyage and necessities for the mission.
- The captain of the corvette “Aube” has been very good. He has given the missionaries permission to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice whenever they want. This is a very great consolation for us. They will even be able to wear their soutanes on board. We will have two cabins, one for the priests and the other for ourselves, but they will probably not be very big. We will also have a Zealander with us and this will give us an opportunity to learn something of the language, which is not very difficult.
- Br Claude-Marie
- A New Zealander, a Maori from New Zealand.
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