From Marist Studies
15 October 1839 – Father Catherin Servant to his parents, Hokianga
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, August 2013
- Mr Jean Antoine Servant, in the village of Grézieu le Marché, Department of Rhone, France
- St Mary of Hokianga, New Zealand, 15th October 1838
- Dear Father and Mother
- Your letter of 21 June got to New Zealand. I am very happy to learn that you are all in good health. You will also be happy to know that I am in perfect health. The little difficulties and privations which have to be put up with from time to time, far from harming my health, seem, to the contrary, to make it better.
- I thank God for the kind feelings you continue to show for me, in spite of the great distance which separates us. Be certain as well that your memory remains very dear and precious to me in the presence of God. You tell me that you go a long time without receiving any news of me, but do you not know that letters have to cross huge stretches of ocean? Your letter was dated in June 1838 – it did not get to me until June – June of the following year. Opportunities for sending letters do not all come on suitable days. Perhaps in the future it will be easier to write to you? In any event, may God’s will be done.
- What is your son doing here, dear father and mother? There is a great amount of work to be done here for the good of souls; the natives of this country are asking in thousands to be instructed in the truths of our holy religion. They love us very much, and are so far from doing us any harm that there is no danger in living among them. When I go among their tribes, they take care to ask me if I am hungry and take pleasure in getting me to share their food. When you go and see them, they make haste to shake your hand and greet you, they sometimes ask you to press your nose against theirs, which is, among them, a great sign of friendship. Already many of them have received the grace of baptism; soon, when they have been instructed enough, a more considerable number will be baptised. Now that winter has ended, we will soon have to build a church out of wood, because it is very hard to build in stone because stones here are rare. This church will be very advantageous for the mission because the natives who come to the sacred ceremonies on Sundays will be able to enter it, whereas up till now we have been very uncomfortable in a little room which has served as a chapel. May everything be to the greatest glory of God!
- You see, dear parents, that everything here is going well. We are happy, and the time does not drag when we have so much to do. I will be very grateful if you pray for me and if you get people interested in me to do the same.
- I keep strongly in mind the memory of the whole family and all my relatives. I hope they all live as good Christians and that they all strive to merit heaven through great faithfulness in carrying out the duties of our holy religion, so that we can all see each other again in eternity. A thousand very affectionate good wishes from me to each one of them.
- For you, dear father, you always hope to receive good news about me. You often dream about your dear son, that he is securely in God’s hands. Pray for him. I suppose you sometimes have some illnesses to put up with: the patience you show in putting up with them will help you merit heaven.
- Dear mother, I am certain that you love me very much in the Lord, and that you pray for me a great deal. Don’t concern yourself too much about what concerns my temporal welfare but wholeheartedly be concerned for the good of my soul.
- Dear Françoise, you are still taking care of our dear father and mother. I am grateful to you for that. God blesses children who help their parents.
- Dear Jeanne, you are making a pilgrimage to St Francis soon. May that great protector, to whose protection you are having recourse, obtain for you a treasury of graces.
- I hope you all become saints.
- My respect and love – a thousand times over, to Father Buffard. I wrote a letter to him a year ago.
- Yours, devotedly in Jesus and Mary,
- Louis Catherin Servant
- Mis(sionary) apost(olic)
- Yours, devotedly in Jesus and Mary,
- Father Buffard was parish priest of Grezieu-le-Marché – Servant’s native village
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