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Br Therese to Fr Sautel, Ouagap, 12 August 1871



Therese appears to have spent most of his time with the fathers in New Caledonia at Wagap. Reporting on this station in June 1870, Jean-Marie Villard writes: “Br Therese, of the Little Brothers of Mary, who is responsible for the temporal affairs of the station, has made it self-sufficient through his expertise with animals and agriculture. At the house he keeps 50 youngsters for whom he provides clothing and food in return for their work; he also takes them for classes…”(letter of 10 June 1870, AM 3. 11-12). In this letter he describes a period of vacation he took which included visits to Nakety-Canala and Pouebo.

Philippe Sautel (1832-1915), professed in the Society in 1855, came to Oceania in 1867. Appointed to New Caledonia, he took over the recently founded station of Nakety on the south-west coast the following year. His predecessor, Dominique Moris (1834-1907), a Marist since 1856, who had arrived a year earlier, had moved up the coast to set up a new station at Thio. The Europeans from Canala, where there was a military post, attended Mass at the Nakety mission (Delbos 178). It would appear from this letter that Sautel was the brother’s spiritual director [5]. He had been joined by the recently arrived Charles le Forestier (1836-1894), a Marist since 1863.

Therese mentions by name only one of the priests at Pouebo, Amand Emprin (1821-1898), a Marist since 1850 and in New Caledonia since 1858. He had been in charge of the mission at Bonde during the uprisings of 1869 and witnessed its destruction at the hands of the military (rf Delbos 157-9). The Brother Alexandre he refers to [7] is Alexandre Deves (1836-1902), a coadjutor who came out to the missions in 1861 still a novice, and who made profession at St Louis in 1864. He spent much of his time as catechist and teacher.

At Wagap itself was the recently retired Jean-Simon Bernard (64), a veteran of the New Zealand mission (1842-1852) and apostle of Ouvea, who was to die tragically at sea in May 1876. Therese was also waiting for his confrere Bertrand to join him so they could start construction on the new church. Bertrand had been helping build the church on the Isle of Pines. In fact, Rougeyron in his report of November 1872, has Joseph Reboul with Therese and Bernard at Wagap, and Bernard on Art in the Beleps (Delbos 177).

This translation was made from a photocopy of the original in the archives of the Archdiocese of Noumea (AAN 62.1).

Text of the Letter

Dear Very Rev. Father,
On my arrival at Ouagap I told you how pleasant my voyage had been. I told you that I was going to put the girls on the boat at Touo to send them to Poebo, but you know that sometimes night brings counsel.
The evening of the departure , I decided to take an excursion to Poebo.
On Monday then we set out on route on the same boat for Poebo. The following Saturday I returned to Ouagap, so that I have taken nearly four weeks of holiday.
You will doubtless think that that’s enough, but also I retuned immediately to my occupations.
Let me first, please, have a little chat with you, but in the same way a well loved child does with his father. He tells him all he thinks, all he sees, and all he hears, but always with simplicity, without mixing it with any other motive.
A word then about Poebo, though I did not stay there long (24 hours). The Fathers have about 100 young people, not counting the girls, but the natives are almost everywhere the same. Everywhere they have a horror of work, of bending, etc. and are almost always drawn in the opposite direction, especially where there is no one continually checking up on them.
A brother would be very useful at Poebo but I see only Br Alexandre who could put up with being among that noisy throng and he is indispensable at St Louis. It is very trying when there are not enough people.
Poor Fr Emprin appears to be having a very bad time and his health is getting constantly worse.
A little word about Canala. On talking with the Commandant one pronounced the name of[1] St Sautel but when we arrived at Fr Maurisse [sic], the commandant exclaimed, Oh! What a good man is Fr Maurisse, and Mr Noblat who was accompanying me, replied ‘Amen.’
All the repairs of the house are finished or just about finished.
Everyday we are waiting for Br Bertrand. We are going to commence preparations for the church and once Br Bertrand arrives, we will set to work.
I am sending you a portrait of the Sovereign Pontiff, one for Fr le Forestier. I am adding 3 or 4 you can give to whom you like.
The good Fr Bernard should have written to you. He is in perfect health and one sees that he is comfortable with whatever he takes on. He has turned his room inside out and scarcely a scrap of wall can be seen. He has made or remade whatever is for his use, his bed resembles a fine piece of furniture. Since his arrival at Ouagap he has been working on his room. He has been taking class too with great enthusiasm, so that no time is being wasted at Ouagap. Seeing him so active one would give him only 21 years.
I will not keep you, my very Rev Father, but my paper is like when we arrived in Noumea. I must stop.
I commend myself to your good prayers and am for life your very obedient servant,
Br Therese.


  1. Words underlined in the original

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