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Br Gennade to Fr Poupinel, Villa Maria, 4 November 1873



This letter brings home to us clearly that we are indeed at the end of the pioneer period of the Marist missions of Oceania. The bulletin Gennade mentions [3] would undoubtedly have included the deceased Marists of France as well as those of Oceania, but already between 1870 and 1873 six missionary priests had died and three PFM, without counting those, like Lucien, whose deaths were too recent to be included. The circular of Louis-Marie referred to in the same part is most probably that of May 24 (CSG IV: 349-435) which also notes the death of Joseph-Xavier.

This letter also records the recent departure for France of Marie-Nizier. Since he had been quite opposed to going back (rf L 205), it must have been at his doctor’s insistence that he had changed his mind; there had been a noticeable deterioration in his condition since his operation in March. In fact, he did not survive the voyage. Monnier died the same September.

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

Text of the Letter

Reverend Father Poupinel,
The fine letter of 9 August which you were kind enough to write me gave me all the more pleasure as it was unexpected. The last letter I had the honour of writing you was only a reply; it did not lead me to hope for another from you.
I am very grateful, my Reverend Father, for the tactful and fatherly care you have for me. Your kind heart makes you return with interest all the little marks of consideration people show you. And despite all your occupations you always find time to attend to those who are dear to you.
We have received the bulletin you were so kind to send us with great pleasure. We have been edified by the good things we have read concerning the deaths of the Fathers and Brothers of the Society. That sort of thing does us good.
What you said about dear Brother Joseph is true. We did everything possible to give him relief in his illness and to render his sufferings more bearable. He rewarded us with the edification he gave by his resignation, and his patience in bearing his sufferings. It was a pleasure for us to be able to be of service to him and he showed us all his appreciation, for he was quite conscious of all that was done for him.
We have read the circular of the Reverend Brother Louis Marie you announced in your letter. Truly, we are not forgotten in France! As for my family, my Reverend Father, I thank you very much for the intention you have of visiting them. I know that if you have not done so it is because it has not been within your power. So I appreciate it the same. The last news I received from them tells me they are all well.
Brother Augule has received the lace you told him about. He is very gratified at the interest you take in his health. He has told me to express his appreciation and present you his respects. I have informed all the Brothers of the sincere and affectionate compliments you pay them. They have all been very pleased with them and I have been asked to thank you for them and to pass on their profound respects. We would all be happy to see you again at Villa Maria; that day would be a feast day for everyone in the house.
Dear Brother Marie Nizier realized that lack of time was the only reason you hadn’t written to him, so he has been prompt to absolve you. You know, my Reverend Father, that he underwent an operation for his illness nearly eight months ago and that it just missed turning out very badly for him. For several days the doctor was very worried and even sorry for having operated. However, nothing developed. During all his illness I served him as infirmarian. Sometimes I had to go into his room more than a dozen times a day. I pitied him greatly for his sickness, so unpleasant for him and for everyone else. Fr Joly spared no trouble or care to look after him, and everyone in the house showed the utmost consideration in his regard and would have done anything to bring him comfort. As I was responsible for looking after him, I did not grudge him my trouble or time. Besides, charity obliged me to act as a brother to him.
In the end, the doctor declared it was urgently necessary to make him leave for France and that it would be cruel not to. So Fr Joly put him on the Patriarch the 25th of October last. He did everything possible to make his voyage a comfortable, even pleasant one. There has been nothing out of the ordinary at Villa Maria. Things are going as usual. Brother Marie Nizier will be able to give you all the news you desire, if the good God gives him the grace to reach you, much better than I could in my letter.
We are all in good health and pray the good God you are the same, my Reverend Father. We have not at present undertaken any particular project. Each of us is busy at his own occupation. We are now to do the haymaking. The weather is fine and the harvest is reasonable. I am very busy with the vine which is growing under my eyes. It is beginning to flower and shows much promise. I have sprinkled it with flower of sulphur and of plaster. I tie up the promising branches and cut back the useless ones. We are hoping for a good vintage.
I forgot to tell you, my Reverend Father, that we have made our annual retreat. It was the excellent Fr Monier [sic] who preached it. We did our best to make it well. As you know Fr Monier you will dispense me from telling you how he spoke to us, in word and in example. Now we are living or rather following the same rule as when you were with us. Our exercises of piety follow the same pattern.
I conclude, my Reverend Father, by presenting you my profound respects and my appreciation of your worthy prayers. I am, my Reverend Father Poupinel,
Your very humble and obedient son,
Br Gennade

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