Br Ptolomee to Br Francois, Villa Maria, 13 March 1859
Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS
By the time Ptolomee and the others set sail for the missions in October 1858, the general administration and the novitiate had transferred from the Hermitage to the new general house at Saint-Genis-Laval. There is, then, a certain nostalgia in Ptolomee’s recollections of his novitiate. Among the brothers he mentions in , his former master of novices, Bonaventure, was now in charge of the farm at St Genis. Dominique had been director of the school in his hometown of Pelussin from 1837 to 1850 and had probably directed him towards the novitiate at the Hermitage. The others are probably directors or members of his communities in France. Now that he is in the Pacific he regards Poupinel as Francois’ vicar . But his conviction that they are to set out for their new posts at the end of the month was certainly misplaced.
In the cahier (2) in the AFM this letter occupies pages 26 to 29.
Text of the Letter
- Reverend Brother Superior,
- How I love calling you to mind and presenting you to the Lord in my prayers. But today I feel an irresistible need to express my respectful and grateful appreciation for all the consideration you have shown me over such a long period. In a word, you have treated me like a father with so much kindness that you have anticipated even the smallest needs in everything and everywhere. The beautiful instructions and good example I received during my novitiate, the wonderful and edifying retreats. I will never forget so many benefits I have received in the Society of the Little Brothers of Mary. I have my memories of them and they will never leave me. May the Lord answer my prayers in his boundless generosity and accord you all the recompense and blessings you have so much deserved for having done me so much good. May Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph send good novices, keep those already there and lead them to perfection, heap all sorts of prosperity on the Society, and may they reunite us all around our saintly Founder in heaven.
- You will know, very reverend Brother Superior, how to present my dutiful and grateful respects to dear Br Louis-Marie and dear Br Jean-Baptiste, your worthy assistants, and to the dear Br Director, to good Br Bonaventure, to dear Br Dominique, to Br Eusebius, and Br Barsanuphe and dear Br Modeste. I thank all these good Brothers very much for the little souvenirs they have given us, and also all the good Brothers; they have all prayed for us to the good God during our voyage. I did not forget them in my prayers either.
- We had a very good voyage. For my part, I didn’t experience the least indisposition during our 120 days at sea. I wish it had been the same for Br Abraham too; he certainly paid the tribute for himself and for me almost the whole time. For me the time did not last long. I was occupied all the time saying rosaries, reading, amusing myself and catching fish. I caught a large number of them, even including a shark. It was a great occasion for me when I hauled him out of the sea. Just when I thought I had him landed, my line snapped. Goodbye to my feelings of exultation.
- We had a good captain who let us celebrate Mass quite often and we received Holy Communion. Christmas and New Year especially were celebrated with as much solemnity as back in France. The sailors assisted at holy Mass and one of them made his first communion. We always wore our religious habit and performed our religious exercises as in France, but we couldn’t do them every day at the time prescribed by the Rule.
- Dear Br Emery and Brs Gennade, Augule, and Joseph are well and very happy. They asked me to convey their respects and gratitude to you. We are leaving for our islands towards the end of the month.
- Very reverend Br Superior, I commend myself to the fervent prayers of the Society of which I am a member, and all our missions and missionaries, especially Monsignor Bataillon. It is a special grace for me to be going to his mission; he is a good Father. I also ask you to pray for our good Fr Superior whom the good God has given me to take your place, and all those associated with him; may the good God keep them all in good health. May Jesus, Mary, and St Joseph teach me how to pray, to obey my Superior who holds your place, that is to say, the place of God, and to be faithful in persevering in my vocation.
- My very reverend Br Superior,
- I am always in profound respect and entire submission, your very humble and obedient servant,
- Br Ptolomee.
- Very reverend Br Superior, I promised dear Br Ignatien whom we met at Bon-Encontre that I would certainly thank him for all the kindness he showed us.
- N. D. de Bon Encontre, another Marian shrine in the southwest of France, in the hands of the Society. From 1848-1853 the Society had a novitiate-scholasticate based there. The brothers opened a school there in 1856.
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