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Br Claude-Marie to Fr Poupinel, Nelson, 8 May 1862



Poupinel’s appointment to the Pacific had been for a term of five years. In June 1862 he returned to France to make his reports and to visit the families of the missionaries and do whatever commissions they had asked him. He was in Europe from August 1862 to January 1864 and must have visited Saint-Genis to report on the missionary brothers. Avit records a visit in August but attributes it to Pompallier (AI 3: 22), although the latter had been back in New Zealand for over a year. Undoubtedly the presence of the Visitor General of the missions would have had something to do with the annalist devoting over half his coverage of the year 1862 to the missionaries of Oceania (AI 3: 22-28). The Marists as well as the vicars apostolic were unanimous in requesting his return, and so he received a second term, leaving Marseilles for Oceania on February 19, 1864 (Hosie 120).

Claude-Marie appears to have been on the point of departure himself, taking advantage of the presence of the corvette, ‘Bonite’, to obtain a free passage home. But Garin had persuaded him to stay another year, for reasons he gives Favre in the following letter (rf L 165).

The “new Father” Claude-Marie mentions [3] was probably Augustin Sauzeau (rf L 188). In a post-script he also asks Poupinel to pass on his greetings to Frank Redwood, whom he would have been easily able to visit at the novitiate of Sainte-Foy in Lyon. Redwood was, in fact, just beginning his year there at the time the brother was writing.

The translation was made from a photocopy in Jessie Munro’s selection from the Villa Maria correspondence in the APM.

Text of the Letter

Very rev. Father,
I learnt with regret that you were going to France much sooner than I expected, but also, I don’t doubt, that will be for the greater good of our missions. Who better than you can give the superiors reliable information about the stations of these distant lands, you alone who have visited, observed, and collected information on all points can enlighten those who send you and let them know our needs. Go then and carry out the good work that God and Mary have confided to you, but come back as soon as possible.
Fr Garin called me to his room yesterday evening and we spoke at length on my approaching departure for France. I ended by promising him that I would stay here another year so he might have time to write to France for a replacement. I did that, very rev. Father, with the sole idea that it was the will of God, for you had let me know you would be pleased if I remained some time yet, and seeing that Fr Garin also appeared in trouble, I then decided, despite the good opportunity of the Bonite and its good captain, to make a new sacrifice, hoping for the arrival of another ship outward bound and that you, if you are back, or Rev Fr Rocher would secure me a place aboard.
When the new Father passed through I asked for the rosary which I had sent you to be mended. He said that he had seen a mended pair at Villa Maria but that he hadn’t known whom it was for; that it would have been a pleasure for him, if he had known it was for me, to have brought it to me. Please pass it on to Fr Rocher so he can send it on a suitable opportunity.
Thank you, very good Father, for the beautiful pictures, the portrait of the very rev. Fr Superior, and for the good Fr Yardin’s beautiful circular. Oh! Be sure to tell that good father how grateful we are for the good and interesting things he has the kindness to communicate to us. May God reward him for his labours!
When you are in France with the very rev Father Superior and the very dear brothers Francois and Louis-Marie, etc. etc. I certainly hope that the good God brings you back in spirit to Nelson and that you recall your poor servant, (and) that you have the goodness to present to them his very humble respects, and to beg them to be willing to commend me to the fervent prayers of the Society, in a very special way, etc. etc.
I earnestly desire to have the portrait of the very rev. Fr Champagnat, in the small size like that of the V. R. Superior. I would be very grateful if you were kind enough to send me one.
Farewell, very rev. and well loved Father. I pray God and the good Mary to grant you a good passage out and a happy and speedy return with good news, pretty things for our churches.
I am and will always be, very rev. Father, your very humble and obedient servant,
Brother Claude-Marie.
If you see Mr Franck [sic] Redwood, give him best wishes from me. His parents are well and still getting more and more prosperous.

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