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6 August1840 — Father Jean-Baptiste Épalle to Father Claude Girard, Bay of Islands

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, March 2012

To Reverend Father Girard
Bay of Islands 6 August 1840

Reverend and very dear Father
I blush at having responded so poorly to your great kindness in writing to me by means of all the departures[1] which have occurred since I left the centre of Mary’s dear family, and I would die of shame if I knew that you thought this delay arose because of a lack of the greatest affection for it. I trust you would never be at fault in that way, and I have reason for that trust. I put you under a strict obligation. I am your best friend – do not forget it. Enough about my lack of faithfulness. The Blessed Virgin has overlooked it all, so good a Mother she is!
Apart from that, if I have not written to you, the real reason is that I did not want to do so without doing so at length. I have realised this was wrong; it is better to write a little and often since, here, it is impossible to combine them both. If I could only send you my heart, entire, you would need two weeks to read it. In any case, in four or five days I am taking up my pen, for I can no longer deny my need to do so, because the children of Oceania, they also, love to talk about their good father. Be sure to tell that good Father-General that perhaps I have saddened him by not writing to him, that my delay will be soon made up for by long letters; my respects as well to all our Reverend Fathers-director Terraillon and Champagnat etc. Many good wishes from me to all the novices whom I can call my successors; may they all be destined for Oceania and may they come in hundreds. Oh, such a vast field; so great a vineyard! People are coming into it everywhere, except through the proper gate. When will one see arriving from the heights of the mountains of the true pastors that numerous flock, to drive away those hordes who are poisoning these pastures.
Do not think, beloved Father, that a missionary can see everything that spreads error and lies without forming a desire, which those who cannot see the situation for themselves can hardly imagine, to see the true preachers coming, I repeat, in hundreds, yes, in hundreds, without any exaggeration.
Please overlook this scrawl during which I have been interrupted at least 20 times. Right now I am at the Bay of Islands, where his Lordship Bishop Pompallier has summoned me to manage this station where we are overwhelmed by the weight of our tasks. I pray every day that he sends, for this station, a Brother who would tell you himself of the need we have of Brothers. I believe Father Dubreuil[2] has left. I am not writing to him.
In the depths of the hearts of Jesus and Mary,
Your most extremely affectionate
Epalle, mis(sionary) apost(olic)


  1. les departs – the dispatches of missionaries - translator’s note
  2. Perhaps he has in mind Father Antoine Dubreul, who, however, would not leave Europe until 27 November 1844, to arrive, on 13th April 1845, in Sydney, where he would work at the mission procure (Doc 398 [2-3]

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