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Br Augule to Br Francois, Villa Maria, 9 September 1859

LO 81

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


This letter consists in fact of two, Poupinel, its scribe, having contributed a postscript [10-16].

According to this letter, Francois’ letters of January did not reach Sydney until the end of August. The brothers in New Zealand and New Caledonia did not get theirs until late in the following month, and those of Central Oceania had to wait until the New Year.

Rocher was replaced at Villa Maria by Claude Joly (1830-1892), professed in the Society in 1852. He had been working in Samoa for two years when Poupinel, whose assistant he had been in Lyon, recalled him to work at the procure. Augule gives an account of the daily regime which was followed in the houses of the Society and would have differed only in details from his own at the Hermitage (for more detail, rf. Hosie 80-81). He mentions with pride that the canticle used at benediction was always from the brothers’ own collection, printed with music in 1856 [4].

Of the brothers at the procure, Emery had moved on to Clydesdale, the estate purchased by Bataillon at the beginning of the year as the site of his college-seminary. As superior the bishop appointed Ferdinand Junillon (1799-1871), a Marist since 1844, who had been working on Wallis and Futuna since 1846. Junillon moved to Clydesdale in July 1859 and work on repairing and adapting the building and setting up the farm began in September. The first students arrived in mid-December (Hosie 172). In his postscript to this letter, Poupinel advises Francois that he considered Emery better off at Clydesdale than he would be directly under Bataillon in the islands [13], but, in fact, the following year the brother was in Fiji. He had been replaced as tailor at Villa Maria by the coadjutor Pierre Janneau.

We have no details about the problems Euloge and Sorlin were having in their respective missions [14], but in both cases it may have been something to do with their priests (for Euloge, rf. L 179, for Sorlin, L 136). If Bertrand did have a spell at Villa Maria, as Poupinel hoped he would, there is no record of it. He appears to have been transferred from the Isle of Pines to Kone and then to St Louis.

A copy of this letter is in Cahier 2, pp 66-72, in the AFM.

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Brother Superior General,
I received the letter you so kindly wrote me only on the 30th of August. It came on a French ship after a very long voyage. How grateful I am to you for sparing me a thought! The counsel you were good enough to give me has given me great satisfaction and I will try to put it into practice with the help of your prayers.
During my work I frequently travel in spirit to Our Lady of the Hermitage, among the dear Brothers who have so often given me edification by their regularity, piety, and attachment to the Society. Their memory is always very dear to my heart. I love to recall to memory the inspiring instructions you and Br Louis-Marie gave us. I was also happy to have your news. The very evening of the day your letters arrived, Fr Poupinel gathered us all to read the beautiful and interesting circular on your trip to Rome, and on the beautiful ceremonies which took place at St Genis-Laval on the occasion of the blessing of the new house. How happy we are to get such consoling news about our religious family.
I have learned from the newspapers about your departure from Rome. But when Br Germanique arrived, we received your circulars and the memoir addressed to the bishops. Fr Poupinel directed us to make a novena for the success of your great enterprise. You know the great interest this good priest takes in our Institute. He also often recommends us to pray for the intentions of our Superiors. These days we are making a novena in preparation for the feast of the Holy Name of Mary and for all the needs of the different branches of the Society. I don’t doubt you pray often for our missions in return, and for me in particular, since I have great need of prayers.
The fatherly interest you have shown me obliges me to tell you something about my situation here. I am still at Villa Maria. My health is very good and I am very happy. As for the rest, it could hardly be better, so I am almost always singing canticles while making my shoes. Our little community consists of Frs Poupinel and Joly and 6 Brothers. Here is our daily programme. Rising is at 4.30 and each goes to the chapel for vocal prayer and meditation, which is followed by Holy Mass. Then we go to our various employments. Breakfast is at 8 o’clock, dinner at 1, preceded by particular examen in the chapel and followed by a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. We recite the rosary daily, the first two decades privately, the third in chapel at a quarter to 7. On Sunday we chant Vespers, then the good Fr Poupinel gives us an instruction. In the evening we have Benediction, which is a great consolation for us. The ceremony always finishes with a canticle; we use our own. Fr Poupinel and I are two able cantors!
The Catholics of the neighbourhood come to Benediction and Mass in our chapel. We have had the major ceremonies for Holy Week and Easter because there have been so many of us. So you see, very reverend Brother, that we don’t have much to complain about since we profit so well by all the favours the Holy Virgin heaps on us!
Let me now tell you something about our Brothers. Br Joseph Luzy, despite his long years of work and his infirmities, is still capable of occupying himself with many very useful activities in the house. Br Gennade is an excellent Brother who works with admirable zeal. Br Emery found his needle too heavy. He is with Fr Junillon on a property Monsignor Bataillon has bought 7 leagues from here. I went to see him a fortnight ago and he seems happy enough. Some people love change.
Brs Abraham and Ptolemee arrived here on 14 February. It’s a very great pleasure to be able to talk about France, and especially about the Society, its progress, the changes that have taken place, and the Brothers who have died. They departed for their distant mission on 4 June. Since then we have received a little news of them. They reached Wallis on the 29th of June but they had a very bad crossing. They encountered three storms, lightning struck the ship twice, and it is a wonder their misfortunes were not more serious. His Lordship just missed being struck and a sailor was injured. On one occasion they all thought they were lost. We cannot get regular news of them. It is not the same with the Brothers in New Caledonia and New Zealand since there are many ships coming from those lands. Br Germanique continues to go well, he is happy. I have sent shoes to Brs Florentin, Basile, and Claude-Marie. They are all in good health. We have had good news of Brs Elie-Regis and Euloge.
I forgot to tell you about my apprentice. We have here 3 young converts from the islands and one of them works with me. His name is Nivelard; he is from the Tokelau islands. He was baptized on Wallis and Fr Poupinel brought him here 11 months ago. He is of a placid temperament and easy-going humour. He is very obedient, but one cannot expect hard, sustained work of the natives of Oceania. For an Oceanian, Nivelard does not work badly. He is a very good server at Holy Mass.
There are some little details I can give you. They will earn me another little letter from you for which I would be very grateful. Please pass on my respects to Frs Matricon and De La Lande, to dear Br Assistants Louis-Marie, Jean-Baptiste and Paschal, as well as Brs Benoit, Leonard, and Hippolyte. I commend myself urgently to their prayers.
I have the honour to be, with sentiments of the most affectionate respect, my Reverend Brother superior, your very humble and obedient servant,
Br Augule.
10 September. It is right that people in a Society help one another. Br Augule makes Fr Poupinel’s shoes, so the latter ought at least write Br Augule’s letter. But we have to tell the truth – he has only been the secretary. Brother composed his letter with the help of the Brother tailor. There was nothing left to do than rearrange it a little and transcribe it. The undersigned performed this little task with pleasure.
I will add here, my very dear Br Superior General, that your good and affectionate letter of the 17th January gave me great pleasure, and I express here my gratitude. Your letters for the Brothers of New Zealand and New Caledonia will leave today from Sydney. We haven’t had an opportunity yet for Central Oceania. Your letters give the Brothers great consolation and I thank you on their behalf.
I am very pleased with Br Augule. He is very good at his trade.
Br Emery is the victim of his over-lively imagination. He believed that tailoring was causing him consumption and that he was going to die soon. He was wanting to go with Monsignor Bataillon, but he would quickly have repented of that move. I did everything possible to dissuade him from the idea. He is better off at Clydesdale, for I hope to be of help to him when he can no longer put up with the new situation, which could well be the case. For the rest, Br Emery is willing, pious, attached to his vocation, but his imagination runs away with him. We have another Brother tailor; he has changed posts with him.
I have had good news from Br Euloge in New Zealand, all his difficulties seem to have disappeared. I also have great hopes that Br Sorlin’s position will turn out alright. Monsignor will give him a change of mission. Br Bertrand is an excellent worker, he works admirably well. Fr Rougeyron has promised to let him spend some time with us when the church on the Isle of Pines is finished. I am pleased. A little stay at Villa Maria will be good for him. You know we are very happy with Br Germanique. I assure you once more I will do my best to support and encourage your dear Brothers who are ours also.
Please pass on to the chaplains and Brother Assistants my sentiments of profound respect. I commend myself to their prayers, to yours, and those of the whole community.
V. Poupinel.
12 September. Br Emery has come to spend the feast of the Holy Name of Mary with us. He is well and seems happy in his position.

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