Br Jacques to Fr Poupinel, Samoa, Port of Apia, 6 February 1856
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
Jacques took the opportunity of writing to his superior general to include another letter for Poupinel. Apart from general comments on the continuing opposition of the Protestant ministers and the problems caused by the bad example of some of the Europeans and the tenacity of tradition (eg in chiefly polygamy ), he has little to add to what he has already told Favre.
This letter has survived only in a copy in the APM. The postscript is incomplete.
Text of the Letter
- Reverend Father,
- I would be annoyed if I let slip this opportunity of writing you at least a few lines, if only to present my humble respects and remind you of my existence. I received the letters you sent me from my relatives and the one you were kind enough to add yourself of the 15 February 1854.
- It is not necessary to tell you of the joy they gave me. You know all about it. Yes, my Father, it is a source of happiness for us at the bottom of Oceania to receive news of our relatives, our friends, and other people, especially those so dear to us. Please write me a short letter at least once a year. It is the greatest favour you could do me.
- The missions of Samoa were well tested in the beginnings. The poor Fathers who have to carry out their ministry there have certainly often needed a rare amount of patience, but I believe the good work done there will be secure. The progress of God's work meets opposition of all sorts and kinds on the part of the protestants. They go to any length to alienate the natives and prevent them from coming to see us. On the part of the Europeans staying on the island, who corrupt them by their bad example and particularly by their bad counsel. On the part of the chiefs of the land, who would like to practise the Catholic religion but would rather arrange it to suit themselves, for it is too difficult for them. At least it would have to let them change their wives as they change their shirts. Be that as it may, despite all these difficulties, good is being done all the same, and although what has been done up til now may seem little, it is certain that we have gained considerably in public opinion. Apia is entirely the centre of protestantism. We have a minister next to us, a zealous partisan of his cult, and unfortunately a man of influence. Please unite with us and pray to our common Mother that she will find a way to deliver us from him.
- We have in Apia the beginnings of a good little resource. The church is not finished yet. The exercises are still carried out in a little chapel. It is frustrating that it is not big enough, for there is often no room for everyone. Fr Servant, who has recently come from Futuna, gives a quite passable sermon every Sunday. There are some young girls Fr Violette trained in singing before he left for Savaii; they sing admirably well. For natives one could not wish better. True, they are not all Samoan, most of them being the daughters of whites. We have just started work on the church again after an interruption. It is not going quickly, but what can one do. Still, it is not our fault. Everything we can do, we do well. I am working on it almost alone and I cannot spend all my time on it. The basic things, the needs of the establishment, take up half my time at least. However, with time and patience we will come to the end, despite all the difficulties. I have just cut the coral for paving the sanctuary. It will make a beautiful pavement. There are about 400 sawn blocks of a square foot each. Later we will do the rest of the church. The visitors passing through admire the workmanship of the sawn coral. Some months ago an American warship came here. The officers came to see the church and asked me for a piece of coral to take away as a memento. Now we are going to try to arrange things so we can say Holy Mass in the church as often as possible. We hope that when it is finished it will be of great service for our faith. There will probably be a revival. All the Fathers think so.
- Time is running out for me, it is starting to get late. I am so busy these days that I have to take time from sleep to write to you. If you have occasion to see any of my relatives, please give them news of me. I am well. I commend myself to your prayers and the Holy Sacrifice.
- I am in the holy hearts of Jesus and Mary, my Reverend Father, your very humble and obedient servant,
- Br J. Peloux SM.
- Among the last clothes I received, the gown was much too small for me. I think a mistake was made in the measurements because the previous ones were alright. If we are sent back another, please recommend that they do not squeeze in with the latter my.......
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