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20 August 1839 — Bishop Jean-Baptiste-François Pompallier to the Priests and Seminarians in the Society of Mary Novitiate, Bay of Islands

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, April 2013

J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
New Zealand, Bay of Islands, 20 August 1839

Dear friends in Jesus and Mary,
I have just received from Reverend Father General a letter dated 1st December, with yours, dated the 2nd of the same month, 1838. What consolation and what happiness both have brought me! How great as well is the happiness of those members of the Society who are working with me and with whom I have shared these two letters! My mail was closing for the despatch of my letters by a ship about to set sail, when your two letters got to me. I have only a few moments more before the ship leaves; so I will make hasty use of the time, for fear that for several months I will not have another favourable chance to tell you something of the affectionate feelings and interest that I have for the children of Mary!
You are now in a Nazareth! You contemplate the Holy Family in the hidden life! How happy you are! What a favourable opportunity to strengthen in yourselves the clerical and apostolic virtues which Holy Orders give, and which are nourished by retreat, the knowledge of the saints or taste for the things of God, prayer and a tender piety for the Holy Family, by loving the solid virtues of simplicity, humility and poverty and detachment which this august family practised so divinely. O hidden life! A delightful life! O source of wisdom! O sweet conversations with Jesus Christ, our good master, with who offers us souls to save, his blood to make useful, his love to embrace us, and to make him loved! O sweet conversations with Mary, our mother and our tender mother, who only lives and acts for Jesus Christ, who carries him in her arms and over her heart and to deigns to offer us this treasure of wisdom, truths and salvation them to make him known and loved by the nations! O Mary, Queen of the Apostles have, who love us, who have confidence in us. How ungrateful we would be if we did not love you and if we did not have complete trust in you, august queen of heaven and earth, holy patroness of the Church, the spouse of Jesus Christ! O Mary, your love, and that of your divine Son, is enough for us! Nothing else on earth, nothing else in heaven! O Mary, who are more powerful than armies, make your power explode, use the strength of your arms against the hellish powers in this mission territory! Confound error, you who are called to destroy all heresy in the world! Gaude Maria Virgo cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo.[1] You are indeed happy, my dear friends, to be able, in retreat, to take in abundantly the light and zeal which is the best of all means for the sacred ministry and the apostolate. Let us all go to Joseph, dear friends, he is the friend of the God of Jacob! He was the provider for Jesus and Mary, he is the favourite of both in heaven, he is the model of recollection, of union with God in the interior life, of humility and love of work! Go to him, and God’s gifts will come to us.
Let us store up heavenly treasures in abundance, because in the missions it is no longer a matter of avoiding sin but of good to be secured, souls to be searched out in the midst of struggles against the devil and the enemies of salvation. Confidence, dear friends, everything obeys the power of Jesus Christ, even the seas and the elements, even often his enemies themselves. Everything serves us here, difficulties, contradictions, the scandalous behaviour of Europeans, perils, privations, calumnies, all the blows, up to now, which Hell has delivered against us, have rebounded on it, so that the success of my work is partly due to the fury of the enemies of God and of his holy Church. You have many consolations in retreat, dear friends, but many others are kept for you in the combats of the Lord, and especially in the missions to the pagans. No! there is not happiness on earth so great as that of giving up everything for Jesus Christ and to follow him in crosses, in tribulations, in dangers of every sort for the sake of his holy name. There is not joy so indescribable as winning souls for him! What a consolation it is to bring them to know the God who has created us, who has redeemed and sanctified us! What a joy it is as well to teach them to love Mary, the queen,[2] the mother of Jesus Christ, and of all his people. All the memories of sufferings and certain circumstances which would lead us to say with the Apostle taedium est now vivere.[3] All that vanishes from sight when we see our savages who pray with us, who utter with simplicity and faith, these words: Our Father, who art in heaven…. Hail Mary…. How sweet it is to make them children of God through baptism! How devoted they are to the things of God! How they know how to console us for all our sacrifices on their behalf! What zeal they have to help our apostolate among their families and their friends whom they meet in various places in New Zealand!
We cannot face up to the work [needed]! Help us, dear Society of Mary, but help us in the ways of obedience which you cherish and which is the most effective cause of success and sanctity! Obedience must be the virtue par excellence of missionaries and catechists and especially of children of Mary. Oh, how lovely is this thought at every time and every place in the most acute difficulties: I am sent, it is for the cause of Jesus Christ, it is this good master who wants it; how consoling, I say, is this thought! It is a source of perpetual joy! Oh! May a holy character filled with strength and courage take possession of all the workers of the vineyard! Prayer, thoughts and pious feelings are wonderful things, but human action, the co-operation of all the abilities of man, the constant co-operation of the whole man with God in everything that is for his service, whatever it may be, that is what is needed for the missions, without excluding the rest, but also without the rest harming that firm co-operation, the free exercise of the spirit and bodily strength, a heart filled with happiness and a holy greatness for the service of God.
I haven’t given you any news of the mission because it is substantially included in two letters I have written to the Superior-General. The works of the mission prevent me from writing often. This letter I am writing to you has been put aside at least ten times and taken up again as many times. I am happy that an adverse wind has got up and delayed the ship which was on the point of setting sail, without that I would not have said so much of what I feel in my soul for the novices of the Society of Mary, for the older men with whom I had the consolation of writing my efforts for the good of that beloved Society, that my works now for the salvation of the pagans may be a help towards the growth of the children of the august Virgin, our so lovable Mother. How happy I am to see them grow in number in the flock that is entrusted to me! How precious to me is their work! How much I have at heart their perfection in their holy religions and apostolic state. How much would I love to see all the branches of the Society of Mary given over to the Lord’s battles! The priests, the Brothers, the Sisters, according to their role will soon perhaps have beautiful souls to dispute with the devil and be led to the sheepfold of Jesus Christ!
I am sending you a little exercise book which circulates everywhere here and for which people come from a great distance to snatch from my hands. It will give you pleasure as well, and be useful to you, because languages and studying them are indispensable for foreign missionaries, and it is probable that with regard to the vast extent of the present mission which could demand the involvement of several religious congregations, the Holy See will not very soon ask for men for another locality. I am sending you as well several manuscripts by which one can acquire an essential part of the languages of countries. By using this method, the languages can be easily learned – I know that because of my own experience.
Dear friends, may we meet each other in New Zealand, or in some other part of the mission, or in Heaven! Not a day goes by without my praying for you, your respective directors and for the whole Society of Mary with the Reverend Father-General who bears us all in his heart. May the grace and peace of Jesus Christ, may his burning love for the salvation of souls, may his Spirit of strength abound more and more in you all for the happiness and good of the Church. Live and die always in his heart! In the name of her divine leader in Heaven, from a very great distance I am sending you my poor blessing which I ask Mary to make great for you. My greetings also to your respective directors.
+ François Bishop, Vic(ar)-Apost(olic) of Western Oceania


  1. “Rejoice, Virgin Mary, you alone have destroyed all the heresies in the whole world.” Extract from the Roman Breviary of St Pius V (cf Doc 8 [9] f/n 4), repeated again by Father Pèzant (Doc 147 [10])
  2. In a later letter (Doc 63 [2]) Pompallier will correct this statement (after the word ‘queen’ must be added ‘of heaven’ which has been missed out.)
  3. Cf 2 Cor 1:8 – “For we do not want, brethren, to leave you in ignorance: the danger we ran in Asia overwhelmed us, beyond our strength, to the point that we were even despairing for our life.”

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