Br Joseph-Xavier to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria, 18 September 1862
When Poupinel sailed back to France in mid 1862 he left Rocher in charge of the procure. Joseph appears to have found his new superior unreasonably critical, but his request to remove himself from Villa Maria and take a spell back on Wallis was not approved either. It was not within Rocher’s competence to give the brother permission for the journey and, moreover, he knew that, whatever the feelings of the priests on Wallis, Bataillon was firmly opposed to Joseph’s return there (rf LL 90, 92).
Joseph had hoped to travel to Wallis with Junillon and Meriais, both returning from Clydesdale. The former had been replaced as superior there by Hippolyte Mondon (1818-1874), a Marist since 1845, newly arrived from Wallis. There were about twenty students, but although a programme of studies had been set up, they spent much of their time working on the farm. Bataillon had made a major effort this year to plant vineyards and orchards (Hosie 173). This is obviously the reason for Br Charles’ visit . Charles Bonneval (1829-1908) was another recent arrival in the Pacific, having come out as a coadjutor in 1860. He did not stay long at Clydesdale either, moving on to Samoa in 1863 and then on to Tonga where he spent the rest of his life.
The brothers at Villa Maria, Gennade especially, were also fully occupied at this time. The whole establishment had moved to a new site on the Sydney side of the Parramatta River and new buildings were going up under the supervision of Claude Joly. The brothers were helped in the work by young islanders. Joseph mentions two, Victor and Setefano, both probably Samoans. Victor Ioella had been working at Villa Maria since 1858 and was a special favourite of Joseph’s.
The translation is from a photocopy of the original in the APM (VM 221. 14).
Text of the Letter
- Very Reverend Father,
- It is already three months since your departure. They have been very long. I do not know how I will spend another 15 or 18. The time certainly weighs on me and with that many vexations. I am having trouble staying in my little corner. I always have plenty of reproaches to put up with, the least thing sometimes even for nothing. I will say, only, you are no longer teaching. There is enough of that and I can certainly assure you, my reverend Father, that I am not going back. In the refectory the silence is still being reasonably observed. But sometimes I forget, although I make a good resolution in the morning. You know my way. But what can I do. I cannot correct myself all at once. This brings down on me much misery and I can almost assure you, rev. Father, that I will not be long at the procure. I have asked Fr Rocher to let me go to the islands. He doesn’t want it. Well, let me go to France. No. Write. Well, I will write. That is why, Father, I am writing to you. I am not telling everything that has happened. I still have the time when I will see you again; although my memory may be quite ungrateful (sic), I will not forget it so soon.
- It is for that, rev. Father, that I ask you to return to Wallis with Frs Junillon and Mairiais (sic). And then I will avoid many reproaches and people will be more settled at the procure, if my health allows me. When you come back I will return, if you judge it suitable. I am not writing to the Reverend Father Superior. If you will, Father, kindly communicate my request. You know me well enough. You know better than me what I need. Do not think, Father, that I am involved in many things here because you would be wrong. All I have to do is feed the fowls. I still look after the chapel as you know and I confine myself to the vegetables only so that no one can complain. As I could not restrain myself in the sorrow he had cast me into, I revealed my intentions to him. He was annoyed it had gone so far. Finally, if that continued, I would be obliged to take the decision to go away. He was firmly against it. This is what I want with all my heart.
- Among the brothers everything is going well, each has his concern. People are very happy with Victor and Setephano (sic). Both of them are always ready for whatever is needed. At the least sign, there they are and always pleasant. They do not say like the servants, it’s 6 o’clock and we have finished. Genade (sic) has almost finished his house; it is pretty. Br Augule is going to ask you for an English and French dictionary like the one he had. He is learning English, he says, from the cook. For myself, I’m waiting for the vegetable seeds I asked you for.
- One does not often see His Lordship or the others. Fr Mondon has come once, he was a little better, Monsignor once, he is due back some time soon. Br Charles has also come once to get some tree roots for planting and grafting.
- I had various things to ask you for. But as the little vexations I had annoyed me so much I have forgotten everything. I am waiting, Rev. Father, for a reply and as I told you, my desires are to go to the islands, make a tour. I know that the fathers of Wallis will not be annoyed. They have often given proof of that, and as I have not much more time to live, I much prefer to die in the islands than at the procure. I finish, my Reverend Father, in embracing you from the bottom of my heart. Pray to the good God for me.
- I greet you, in presenting to you my humble respects, in the holy hearts of Jesus, Mary, Joseph,
- Your very devoted and humble servant,
- Luzy, Br J. X. sm.
- Your very devoted and humble servant,
- Fr Rocher (added at the foot of the letter).
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