From Marist Studies
14 May 1840 — Conclusions drawn by Father Denis Maîtrepierre from Bishop Jean-Baptiste-François Pompallier’s letter to Father Jean-Claude Colin
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, September 2011
This document, being undated, is given the same date as the letter from which the conclusions are drawn.
- From the contents of this letter it can be said:
- 1) that the Oceania mission is difficult and expensive.
- 2) that it is however ripe [for harvest – implied].
- 3) that it is threatened by a deluge of Methodists.
- 4) that among the missionaries several lack tact and knowledge of polite manners.
- 5) that the Brothers lack orderliness and cleanliness, and they are weak in their skills.
- 6) that the Vicar-Apostolic very much fears that the religious state is an obstacle to the subordination he would like in his priests. As much as formerly he would have liked to make the Marists independent of the episcopacy, he would now like them to be blindly obedient.
- 7) that the religious fear being governed in such a way as to prevent them from in any way enjoying the advantages of religious life, and to have no more means of sanctification and perfection than secular priests.
- 8) that from this mutual fear, worry and reserve are developing, which must greatly harm that complete trust which makes commands light and obedience easy.
- 9) that, in order to dissipate this harmful and dangerous fear, it would perhaps be appropriate to suggest ways by which the way ahead for both parties could be pointed out or indicated.
- 10) that the mission is growing but not consolidating, that, rather, it is losing vigour while it is developing.
- 11) that perhaps there is an urgent need to look for ways of shaping, consolidating and perfecting the good which is developing with so much and, perhaps too much, activity.
- 12) NB 1) A provincial who would visit the Fathers and Brothers, who would renew them in the spirit of their vocation through circular letters, who would bring them together for retreats when possible, who would be aware of their spiritual needs from information given by them or from elsewhere, who would stand up for their interests in the presence of the Bishop, etc… would be one of these ways, and perhaps the most efficacious, which would set in place the gentle bonds which must unite confrères, and maintain among them the religious and apostolic spirit.
- 2) To consolidate the beginnings of a good work not yet properly strengthened, wouldn’t a second Bishop, a Pro-vicar Apostolic, or Prefect-Apostolic, be useful, or even necessary? The Vicar-Apostolic is carried away by his zeal to open up new territories, to found other missions; to try to stop him, even to moderate him through an advisory council, would be useless and even harmful.
- 3) Taking everything carefully into account, apart from the ordinary means of assistance, the present state of the mission demands, or seems to demand, assistance in moral strength, guided assistance in administration: this assistance must be accompanied by prudence, but supernatural and active prudence.
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