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22 July 1840 — Bishop Jean-Baptiste-François Pompallier to Father Jean- Claude Colin, Bay of Islands

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, December 2011

To Reverend Father Colin, Superior-General of the Society of Mary, in Lyons 4 St Bartholomew Rise, Lyons, France

J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
(No 22)
St Mary’s Mission, New Zealand, Bay of Islands
22 July 1840

To Reverend Father Colin, Superior-General of the Society of Mary

Very Reverend and dear Father
On the 11th of this month, I had the great consolation of receiving Fathers Pèzant and Tripe, with the two Brothers Ammon and Claude-Marie, who were brought to me on the French corvette the Aube, Captain Lavaud.[1] They are all in good health and happy. The captain and all his officers acted towards me with great decency and good will. For my part, I will go along all the more willingly with the plans which have been made known to me because that will develop my mission precisely in places where for several months I have wanted to send missionaries. But let us pray, pray very much, because heresy is powerful with the political and monetary resources it employs.
I have also received all the letters and the funds you have had sent me.
I am greatly saddened because a quantity of letters that we wrote to you have not got to you, according to what I understand from what you write to me. Is it possible that because you hadn’t received our letters, you delayed sending me missionaries and catechists? Oh God! How that harms this mission! It would be better not to have begun than to stay here with such a little number for such big and numerous islands! Heresy did not have the zeal it now has; it has been spreading for more than a year with astounding activity. Right now there is not an island in my jurisdiction which does not have some of its ministers of error and intolerance. Ah! Whether you receive or do not receive news from us, which can be intercepted (because we write to you a lot), send many apostolic workers, a lot of funds, because up to now we have been like marker-posts inciting the energy to fight and to serve him as signs so he can precede us and go as a conqueror in our stead. Two good printing presses with sort, perfect machines, I suffer especially from not having them. Send me everything to the Bay of Islands.
All your children, priests and brothers, are well, here, and those in Wallis and Futuna are also well, I think. You must have received long and interesting accounts of those two interesting missions. I will not repeat anything about them to you now. I have not had any news about them for ten months since I sent a priest (Father) Chevron and a catechist (Brother) Attale there. The ship which took them from here, from the Bay of Islands, is daily expected on its return journey; it was to call at Tahiti after having left the two men I send as reinforcements to the above-mentioned islands. I presently believe that those two missions have expanded under the protection of our most powerful Mother, the most Blessed Virgin and with the help of God in the consoling promises of (the words) “behold I am with you, all days, until the end of time”.[2] Worry no longer, very dear Father, about the first men to whom I entrusted those two important places in this huge mission of Western Oceania. They are now six in those two islands, 3 priests and 3 Brothers.
Always send us more Brothers than priests; choose all the men – priests and Brothers – with manly characters, strong, steadfast and good; very good health is not necessary. In my preceding letters I asked you for priests, without including Brothers in at least as great numbers. I asked you, I repeat, for priests in lots of fifty; and now renew to you the same requests with greater urgency, under the threat of seeing most of the islands of our mission ravaged by heresy. A great deal of money as well and changed into English currency, or even deposited in banks in London, Sydney and the Bay of Islands.
But, something I would say to be almost as important: for pity’s sake, and in the name of the greatest sufferings of Our Lord, send me, as soon as possible, two letterpress production presses, with the sorts, and with the moulds needed to make them from; quite simply with everything needed to print perfectly, without the help of any other industry in this country: and that these presses can operate as soon as they get to us here.
Right now in New Zealand there are 25,000 or 30 thousand catechumens and about 400 neophytes; baptism does not follow as quickly as conversion of New Zealanders to the faith, because the tribes are too scattered, because we are not numerous enough, and because instruction can only be given too infrequently to each group of people. The main aim up till now has been to protect them from the heresy which hounds them to their destruction. I am obliged to finish. I have resolved to write to you, even if only 3 lines, each time I get a chance. I am, in union with Jesus and Mary, very Reverend and dear Father, your most affectionate and devoted servant
+J(ean) B(aptiste) François, Bishop of Mar(onea), vic(ar) ap(ostolic) of Western Oceania.
PS I am sending you news through the letters of my missionaries, not having the time to give it you in detail myself.
+ François


  1. Charles-François Lavaud (1798-1878), designated commander of the Aube and the King’s Commissioner with the intention of preparing for the reception of the French colonists whom the Nanto-Bordelaise Company was sending to Akaroa, arrived at the Bay of Islands on the night between the 10th and 11th July 1840, where he had talks with Captain William Hobson and Bishop Pompallier. On 15th August he got to Akaroa, where the Britomart, sent by Hobson, had arrived on the 10th August, and where British justice was operating with two magistrates, Michael Murphy and Charles Barrington Robinson. The French colonists, having arrived two days later on the Comte de Paris, established themselves there in difficult conditions (cf Doc70 [1-2]. ; Buick pp 61, 68, 71-77, 91-95, 102-3; Faivre pp 453-57; Encyclopedia of NZ vol 2, - 290)
  2. Matt 28:20

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