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Br Joseph-Xavier to Fr Colin, Sydney, July 1853

Clisby Letter 102. Girard doc. 1261

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


This short letter seems to have been written mainly to help its writer make up his mind about whether he should remain at the procure or return to France. It contains nothing else except a brief bit of news about Tonga. Although the situation for the Catholics had improved, they had lost a missionary, Nivelleau having died at sea the previous December, at the age of 29. Calinon had taken him with him when he returned to Tahiti on the ‘Moselle’ to appeal its captain’s decision (Mangaret 186). Pieplu, also much weakened after the privations of the siege of Pea, outlived him by only five years, dying of typhoid fever in Tonga in December 1857.

Text of the Letter

Very reverend Father,
I have been waiting in vain for news from you and for replies to the letters I have sent. You know that I am still in the procure, and that the good Fr Rochet (sic) has been able to tell you everything of interest in my regard. As for returning to the islands, although I would have the courage, I would not have the strength. His Lordship leaves me perfectly free. Besides, my Reverend Father, if I have stayed here it is only with the advice and agreement of the one responsible. Now, reverend Father, if you think it would be good that I return to France for the good of my family, since they are always asking me and I might cause them some concern, to avoid all that I would happily make the voyage, and I would endeavour to be as useful to the Society as it depends on me and my strength allows.
I will not speak to you about the islands since I am no longer there. But I believe everything is going well. Tonga is beginning to pick up. I think the good God would only have done it to test them. Now that Fr Nivelot (sic) is in heaven, there will not be lacking someone to intercede for those poor Tongans, and for causing the banishment or obtaining the conversion of the Methodists who put such obstacles in the way of the work of the true missionaries.
My best wishes to you, my Reverend Father, in the holy hearts of Jesus and Mary, until I have news from you or see you again, if it is God’s will. Keep on praying to the good God for me. I always need your prayers.
Farewell, my very Reverend Father. Accept the respects of your very devoted son,
Luzy, Br J. X.

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