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Fr Reignier to Fr Yardin, New Zealand, 9 June 1866



This letter to the mission procurator in Lyon is intended as a testimony of gratitude to Yardin for his part in obtaining sisters for the mission and as an appeal to him to make a further approach to the Marist brothers, who have not yet replied to Reignier’s proposal.

As procurator for the missions since 1857, Yardin had played a central role in the Society’s dealings with the tertiaries for Oceania. Thus, when at the end of 1861 a house of formation was opened for them in Lyon, the cradle of the congregation of Notre Dame des Missions, Favre appointed him as director, bursar, and priest advisor to the sisters (Hosie 165). So closely was he associated with them that his confreres came to call them ‘les Yardines ‘, the ‘Yardinettes.’ Yardin continued in this role, becoming steadily more uncomfortable as the rift between their superior, Marie du Coeur de Jesus, and the Society widened, until he resigned in 1868.

A major reason for the rift was the difference between the foundress’s and the Society’s conceptions of religious life for missionaries. Marie gave her sisters a rule for a semi-enclosed order whose life-style and programme were to prove too difficult and impractical for those sisters already working in the tropics. But it was a different matter in a colonial society like New Zealand where local expectations and climate offered support for such a life. The congregation flourished in Napier, opening a boarding school in 1866 and a Providence for Maori girls the following year (O’Meeghan 70). When Marie visited her sisters in Napier the second time in 1886, Yardin was himself there to meet her, and the brothers Reignier was asking for had been there eight years.

The translation was made from a photocopy of the original in the APM.

Text of the Letter

Dear Rev. Father,
Would you please be good enough to send these two letters on to their destinations.
1. for Mr Ludovic Deluen, doctor of medicine, Nantes, Lower Loire.
2. Mr Pierre Monchalin, Upper Loire, Puy dept. Pertuis.
You are aware, my Rev. Father, that Rev Fr Poupinel has made an offer to the Marist brothers asking them to accept our farm with the intention of founding schools. They have not yet replied to any of our letters letting me know their intentions, their wishes, or any conditions or arrangements to make. This is holding up our plans for the mission and keeping us in uncertainty. Thanks to your kindness we have some Sisters who are doing a lot of good. I have sent them some boarders whom I am supporting. The young girls have teachers and Mothers. We want to open the way to providing the boys with teachers and Fathers. At least let them do us the favour of replying and we will be very grateful.
Fr Poupinel has announced to me that a set of stations of the cross has been sent to me from Lyon and has been paid for, but I haven’t received it yet.
It is my duty to join with all our confreres in expressing the liveliest gratitude to you for your zeal and labour in helping the missionaries and their missions. Particularly we priests of the Province of Hawkes Bay, Napier, we must acquit ourselves of a debt of gratitude to you personally for having favoured us first in New Zealand with the branch of Sisters under your direction.
I recommend myself to your fervent prayers and holy sacrifices.
Your very respectful and devoted servant,
E. Reignier pr. S.M.

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