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11 November 1836 – Father Catherin Servant to his parents, Paris

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, May 2010

[p 23]
M Servant, in the village of Grezieux le Marché

Paris 11 November 1836

My very dear parents
Perhaps you think I am already at sea, but such is not yet the case. I am waiting for the moment of departure which, I think, must come on the twelfth of this month. If it pleases God to delay it still more, may he be blessed. The best thing for us is carrying out his holy will.
The letter you sent me gave me real pleasure. It tells me that you always wish me well, that you are still attached to me, and do not want to forget me in your prayers. For my part, you know I am resolved never to forget you. Oh how often I am going to commend you to God! How many times will I entrust you to Mary’s heart and hands!
The long voyage that I am going to begin will no doubt renew sorrow among you; but even if you experience great emotion, your sacrifice will not fail to be pleasing to God; provided that you are resigned to his merciful plans for me, he will bless the sacrifice you make with a willing heart. You know, when people look into God and for God,[1] they love each other as much from a distance as from close at hand; no matter where I am, you will always be present in my heart. Perhaps you are going to fear for me, but is there anything to fear in carrying out the will of God? If it pleases this good God that I have chosen for my special portion that I share a little in that cup of bitterness, in that divine cross of the most tender of masters, wouldn’t I be only too happy to work in that way for heaven?
Be really consoled by this, my dear parents, my fate is worthy of envy. I am happy to go and perform God’s work. Pray earnestly to him, this good God, to protect me in my weakness; do not be afraid to trouble on my account the best of mothers, the queen of heaven and of earth.
Let us now go into some particulars. You know perhaps that there are eight of us going to the same destination, among which are the bishop, four priests and three Brothers. We will have with us as well four missionaries from Paris[2] who are going to another mission. Apart from these, there will be some laymen as well in the same ship. Our greatest consolation is that we will be at liberty to say Holy Mass when we wish, provided that the sea is not too rough. We are on the eve of leaving for the city of Rouen, and from Rouen we will go to Le Havre de Gràce; that is the place where we will board our ship. Already there are two of our missionaries in Le Havre in order to prepare for our departure.
I hope that from time to time I will be able, though at the end of the world, to give you a sign of life; news of our mission will be sent when Providence gives us opportunities.
Every year or more often you will be able to find out what has become of us by writing to the novitiate of the priests of Mary which is going to be set up in Lyons near St John.[3] Please accept, my very dear parents, the assurance of my deep regard for you.
I very tenderly embrace my dear father, may he receive a sign of my gratitude for all I owe him… He is himself aware of everything my heart would love to tell him… I very tenderly embrace my dear mother, may she not suffer about me. I have very powerful protection in Jesus and Mary. When she has to suffer for me, may she have recourse to Mary, the mother of consolations. And shouldn’t I have something to say to my dear Françoise? May she be full of resignation to the will of God in the matter of her weak health, may she detach her heart from this passing world; may she give it totally to him who has given himself totally to her. And would my dear Jeanette be forgotten? If the good God wants her to be ill and suffering, may he be blessed! May she remember that we have to carry our cross here below. I really hope that she loves God alone, and that she holds in horror everything that can offend God. I earnestly recommend my two sisters to take care of my loving father and my loving mother, as I would do myself if I were in their situation. Please accept, my dear parents, along with my farewells [in the margin and cross-wise] a little picture on which I have put my signature. It will be a little token of the love that I have for you. Forever I am your totally devoted, totally loving [son], in the hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Missionary priest


  1. cherche en Dieu et pour Dieu
  2. The Picpus Fathers, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (cf doc 12 [1])
  3. the cathedral of St John the Baptist – translator’s note

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