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Br Germanique to Br Louis-Marie, Port-de-France, 23 July 1859

LO 80

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


This short letter, addressed to Br Louis-Marie personally, is appended to LO 80 but was not included with the copy reproduced in the Circulars, of which it is, in a certain sense, a summary.

It raises an important question about the reasons of the Superiors for sending a brother by himself to take over a school. Poupinel had in fact asked for two brothers, and Germanique himself obviously expected someone to come out after a year or so to help him establish a regular community [5]. Aristide and Therese arrived in 1860 but neither of them was intended for Port-de-France. Three years later he was still waiting. He was underemployed at the school, which showed no signs of growing, the new authorities in the colony were proving hostile to the Mission, and he had little contact with his confreres, the closest being Aristide at Conception. His companion, Jean-Pierre Fremont, colonial chaplain, was hardly stimulating company, suffering as he was from an advanced state of TB, from which he was to die in 1864. In May 1862 Rougeyron had decided to send him to St Louis, but he asked instead to spend some time with the Villa Maria community to re-establish himself. He went to Sydney towards the end of that year and by August 1863 he was back in France. Our records are silent about him which appears to imply that he left the Institute either en route or shortly after his return to France. It was ten years before any more brothers came to do his work. His school, first under a priest, then under a soldier, continued until 1866 when it was closed as part of a colonial cost-cutting programme. As for Canala, the brothers opened a short-lived school there in 1877 (rf Delbos 129).

Text of the Letter

Very dear Brother Assistant,
As the letter I am addressing to the Very Reverend Brother Superior and you is a very long one, and your time is too precious to be wasted reading it, I thought it right to write you a few words personally, to express my gratitude to you, thank you for your benefits, send you my affectionate respects, and open my heart to you as I have done in the past.
I have had as yet no cause to regret coming to Oceania and I hope the good God will keep me in the future in the same dispositions.
I have been running classes at Port-de-France since 3rd June for 6 French children, 2 English, and 9 natives. The Governor has allocated me a salary of 1800 francs as well as my upkeep.
It is likely we will be asked to begin an evening class for the soldiers, but I will not be able to do it by myself, especially when the colonists are expected to be arriving in great numbers. If there had been a Brother available here, he would already have been stationed at Kanala. I have written about that in more detail on the last page of my long letter.
I am waiting impatiently to have someone with me, to establish a regular community as in France. I hope you will not leave me alone too long. It would be good to send several capable Brothers, for when a town is in the process of being founded, it is ordinarily a question of employees already having some education.
I present my sincere respects to dear Br Jean-Baptiste and I thank him for all he has done for me. I send them also to dear Brothers Paschal, Abrosime, Philogone, Sylvestre, and Marie-Jubin.
I would like to have news of my former directors, Brs Sulpice and Remy.
I commend myself once again, very dear Brother Assistant, to the prayers you address to the good God, and to Mary, our good mother, and to the prayers of all my dear Confreres. I think of them often.
I am, with profound respect and tender affection, my very dear Brother,
Your very humble and obedient servant,
Br Germanique

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