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Br Claude-Marie to Fr Poupinel, Nelson, 9 March 1865



Claude-Marie wrote this letter to catch Poupinel either at Napier or at Wellington so that the visitor general could put his case for a transfer to Viard. As Poupinel had already left Napier for Wellington on the 6th of the month, it was probably sent direct to the capital. He had called in to Nelson briefly on his way through from Sydney to Napier and was due for an official visit later in the month.

Despite Garin’s promises, Claude-Marie still found the cooking among his occupations at Nelson. In addition, he had to look after Michel, a semi-invalid after his time in Fiji, and frequently sick. He was not much help to Garin and was moved in mid year to Meeanee in semi-retirement.

The brother was still hoping to return to France, to the Hermitage. In this letter he also considers the possibility of going to New Caledonia, to retire to La Conception or St Louis. It is possible that Poupinel had told him of the situation at the latter station of Aristide, also seeking a confrere for company (rf L 194).

He also returns to the idea of a retreat with other brothers, this time at Napier with Reignier. There were three there now, with Athanase having joined Forest in 1862. Jean Broyer (1832-1915), professed in the Society in 1860, came out to the Pacific the following year. He was to remain in Napier until his return to France in 1886.

The translation was made from a photocopy in Jessie Munro’s selection of letters to Poupinel (1860 – 1867) in the Villa Maria file in the APM.

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father,
It was with disappointment that I learned of your departure from Nelson on the evening of Tuesday 22 February. I was in the church. I was feeling sure of seeing you again to bid you farewell and, on my return to the house, Fr Garin told me you had gone.
So I am taking the liberty today of writing these few lines to you to ask you not to forget me with His Lordship. I well know that the best for me would be my return to France because there I would be able to finish my days in peace among my dear confreres. But if you and my Superiors in France do not judge it suitable, may God’s will be done!
Alas! What is to become of me, not being able now to be as useful as previously. I detest cooking. I would like to see it far from me. I am not strong for manual work and yet it is necessary to be occupied. Where I was would not matter to me if it was granted to me to live quietly with some little occupation I could do easily. That’s what I would find in France in our houses. But here one must obey orders. At least if I was discharged of the cooking it would be one great burden less for me. One would easily find a servant who would not cost much and who would look after the good fathers, presenting them with good meals, washing and mending the linen, keeping the house clean and in order, so that everything would be for the better.
I would not like staying all the time with Fr Michel. I always have problems with him. If he has to stay in Nelson, His Lordship could perhaps find me another place, although I am convinced that the fathers of the other stations desire rather to see me at a distance than close to their persons. If I were only 25 and strong and healthy, I would perhaps be welcome, but at my age, unable to do anything, so then, let him stay where he is!.. Ah! France, the Hermitage where I spent such beautiful days, where are you? There you have infirmaries, houses for the elderly, where they are looked after and supported. Here, Ah! What is to become of me?…
There, very rev. Father, the painful reflections that keep on going round my mind and which are well founded. But I hope that you can allay them by speaking for me to Monsignor, whether to go to France or elsewhere, perhaps to the reduction in New Caledonia[1] where I may finish my days which won’t be very long.
But suppose I have to stay here, could I make a trip to Napier to make a retreat under the direction of good Fr Reignier. There I would have a double consolation; first that of pondering seriously how far I have got with my God; and the second, of seeing three confreres, a happiness I have not had for 15 years. Would I be able to go there as soon as possible, so that I would be there in Holy Week to spend the Easter feasts with them. Or perhaps I could go with you to Sydney as you have been good enough to propose to me. See and decide for the best.
Farewell, my very rev. Father. Don’t forget me in your prayers and holy sacrifices.
Believe me always your very humble and very respectful servant,
Br Claude-Marie.


  1. Underlined in original

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