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Br Joseph-Xavier (Jean-Marie Luzy) to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis, 1 July 1845

D’après l’expédition, APM OW 208 Luzy.

Clisby Letter 55. Girard doc. 382

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


On its tour of the Pacific, the corvette "Rhin" called in at Wallis in June bringing mail and news from France. It stayed long enough to provide medical treatment for those who need it, including Joseph-Xavier, and also, as Bataillon mentions in a letter to Colin, to effect a truce in the civil war between the Protestant chief Poi and the nominally Catholic chief Tungahala which had been raging for over a year (AM 514). At the beginning of July it sailed on to visit the mission in New Caledonia.

Writing at the same time as the Brother, just before it left, Fr Gilbert Roudaire, in charge of the printing press which had come with Douarre, gives a report on its progress (AM 510-513). He and the scholastic Isidore Grezel had been given instruction in printing before leaving France. They had already printed 2500 copies of a reading primer and the prayers of the Stations of the Cross as well as a common prayer book. It did not take long for everyone to learn to read. Public exams were held for the children, the prizes being prayer books. Copies had been sent to Tonga, to the delight of the converts there and the consternation of the Wesleyans, who had up to then been the only Christians in the area with a press. Two thousand copies of a primer in Tongan were to be sent there shortly. Four young Wallisians were helping in the printery.

The success of the printery had lead Bataillon to plan the setting up of a college on Wallis for educating chosen youth from the different parts of his vicariate to form them as catechists, brothers, or even eventually priests. In the letter to Colin referred to above, he informs him it would be a seminary dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and would include a place of retreat for sick priests and brothers (AM 515). The site he first chose was at Matala, on a little peninsular near Mua in the south-east. Br Augustin would be involved in this project. Br Charles Aubert (b 1811), a pharmacist by trade, was professed at Belley in September 1844. He worked about two years on Wallis before being transferred to Samoa in 1846. He left the Society in the following year.

Text of the Letter

Reverend Father,
We were very pleased with the little letter you sent us. Thank you for your fatherly remembrance. I am still on Wallis near His Lordship. My occupations are the same but much multiplied. I try to do them as best I can. Dear Br Charles is a great help to me, only I'm afraid we won't be together long because of the needs of the other islands. My religious exercises are frequently shelved because of these occupations which aren't finished even when the day ends. So I pray the good God to have the kindness to blend my miserable little prayers with your fervent ones and those of the Marist communities so that on the Great Day he will not notice my impertinence.
Two of our churches are quite beautiful but they lack candlesticks, banners, monstrance, censers, etc. There is nothing more impressive than the Corpus Christi procession. Following Monsignor's orders I have employed all my little talent in the parish of Notre Dame. I would ask you, out of charity and compassion, for help to relieve His Lordship, who is obliged every week to remain in the confessional from Thursday morning up to Sunday morning. Some more priests would help him live longer.
As for myself, reverend Father, I suffer from time to time. Three doctors from the "Rhin", a warship at anchor here, have lavished their care on the sick of Wallis. They have been kind enough to give me a second operation. It was very painful. They think I need a third if I want to be cured, but they don't want to perform it now as they don't have enough time here. I don't know what Providence will do; may its holy will be done. I hope this second operation will cure me. Of those operated on, two are very low but I think they will pull through. The property is doing well, the classes too; it won't be long before we found the College. The good Br Augustin is hard at work.
Goodbye, reverend Father. I commend myself to your prayers in embracing you in the hearts of Jesus and Mary, our Mother.
Your very devoted and obedient servant,
Luzy, Brother Joseph-Xavier. Catechist.

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