Bishop Bataillon to Br Louis-Marie, Apia, 8 October 1853
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Despite his dismissal of the arguments advanced by his missionaries, recorded in the postscript to the preceding letter, Bataillon was sufficiently impressed to write another letter to the Hermitage. This time he wrote to Louis-Marie, assistant general, seeking his support for his requests. Pierre-Alexis Labrosse had been a student with him at L’Argentiere, the archdiocesan minor seminary in Lyon, in 1827 and 1828, before joining the brothers. (Another Marist missionary there at the same time, Philippe Viard, was now bishop of Wellington). Bataillon wants his former seminary companion to use his influence in support of his request for brothers. But he does not mention that he himself has become one of the heaviest crosses for the Marists in Oceania.
A copy of this letter, also included in the cahiers in the AFM (1 pp 245-6 and 2 pp 184-5), has been published in the Circulars, 2: 495-6.
Text of the Letter
- Dear Brother and friend,
- You are the only one in the Society of the Marist Brothers I have the advantage of knowing from times past at Largentiere. That is why I am hastily addressing you a line or two of remembrance and friendship. What a long time has passed since we were at Largentiere, and how great must be the store of merits you have amassed in the humble role you have taken on: God be blessed! But that is as may be. My purpose here is to beg you not to forget Oceania, not to abandon it, to continue to pray for it and to come to its aid. I have written a letter to your Superior, the very honourable Br Francois, but since I do not have the advantage of personal acquaintance, I thought you might like to associate yourself with me to obtain the favour I am asking on behalf of our poor, abandoned missions of Oceania. In the past, there was concern for Oceania; it appears it has been extinguished. And why? Because there are difficulties, crosses? But aren’t these necessary for the success of any good work! And are the crosses of Oceania worth less than the others? They are probably worth a little more...
- This is the first time I have written to the Hermitage. Don’t turn down my request. Consider it favourably and you will be doing our mission an immense service. We will then be able to look after ourselves, for, with a Brother tailor and a Brother shoemaker, they will train the natives who will then be sufficient for the mission. We had an excellent tailor in the person of Br Paschase. But he has been sick with dysentery for two years and may even now have died.
- I commend our missions to your prayers and those of the community. They are not going well but they are still going, and will in time, I hope, make rapid progress. Pray for me personally, use your credit and influence with dear and honourable Br Francois and your council to obtain for me at least three Brothers, and I will be eternally grateful to you.
- United with you in prayer I am, my dear Brother, your very humble and obedient servant,
- + P (ierre). Bishop of Enos.
- Vic. Apost. of C. Oc.
- Paschase died on Lakeba on 8 July. Bataillon may have heard rumours of his death, but did not have confirmation at this time. rf L 107.
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