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25 October 1841 — Father Claude-André Baty to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Te Araroa

Translated by Mary Williamson, August 2021.


Based on the document sent, APM Z 208.

Sheet of “Bath” paper, forming four pages, three of which are written on, the fourth page having only the address and Father Poupinel’s annotation. The information that the author gives in the present document on the mission at Te Araroa (on the Mahia peninsular) will be completed in his later letters (doc. 114, 216, 232 and 233).

[p.4] [on the back] [Address]
To the Very Reverend Father Colin / Superior General of the Society of Mary / Lyon.


[In Poupinel’s handwriting]
New Zealand / Te Araroa 25 August 1841 / Father Baty.


[at the bottom of the page, p.1 address]
To the Very Reverend Father Colin, Superior General.


[p.1]
Ad Majorum Dei gloriam et Dei Genitricis honorem


Te Araroa,[1]
25 October 1841.
Station of Saint Michel.


My Very Reverend and very dear Father,
[1]
Your fatherly goodness will tend to excuse me for having waited so long before writing to you, but we have been waiting so long for our new colleagues and when they arrived, I found myself in Hokianga; once back in the Bay of Islands, I had to get ready to leave on Bishop Pompallier’s schooner where I have been for three weeks and from where I have the good fortune to be able to write to you after having written some books for the natives of this station, Saint Michel. I thank you very much, my Very Reverend and very dear Father, for your letters, [2] and your concern for us, your frail children. I have avidly read your letters, but I have not yet been able to take a copy of those that are of interest to us all. I reread with pleasure those that you were kind enough to give us when we left France; I wish to make myself conform to the sentiments and the actions therein. I have noted to you, in my previous letters that I have had some difficulties with the Bishop. [3] Now, thanks be to God, everything is going well and having learnt from experience, I want to watch even more closely my actions and everything that concerns me, so that the demon of pride, of confidence in my own insights, etc. has no hold on me and will not come and rob me of the fruits of my labours and even more will not come and halt the work of God. It is my tongue that has caused me the worst troubles. Nevertheless, very dear Father, do not believe that trust has been broken, as I have always regarded the Bishop as my superior and my bishop and I have always had with His Lordship a continued dutiful relationship as if nothing had happened. I am telling you all this , Very Reverend Father, because I have had wind of a letter sent to France which would give, about several of us, a suggestion that I do not think anyone has deserved. What has troubled me a lot, for several reasons and that you will be able to easily guess, is that I have heard say to the Bishop that this letter could cause great harm to the Society of Mary and perhaps cause it to fail; on this matter, Mary knows what she has achieved and what she will do.
[2]
As for my current arrangements, they are still such as you know, I have found myself in my position in the midst of the New Zealanders; for three weeks now I have been completely alone with them. I have profited from this isolation to consider my personal mental state. It is as if I am never alone, I have a little New Zealander who follows me wherever I go. Unfortunately, I will leave this little group to return to Auckland, the capital of the colony and once again be burdened with the weight of the responsibility of souls, a weight that is not so heavy among the natives. [4] Those who wish to profit from your advice and the rules of prudence in general, are at no more risk than usual, even when living alone among the tribes of New Zealand. Religious practices may well submit to charity sometimes, especially on the long and frequent voyages, but laziness is much more to fear than being busy.
[3]
What a pleasure for me to learn of the success of the Society to which I have the good fortune of belonging. May Jesus, Mary and Joseph be blessed all over the earth! In my warmest prayers, I love to think of you, very dear Father; and rejoin all my Brothers who work under a different sky, work under the eyes of the master who I adore and of his infinite mercy to which I humbly commend myself. Kindly commend me to his goodness and also to that of our communal Redeemer and to his august and kindly Mother who would wish to also be ours!
[4]
Please accept my sentiments of respect, gratitude, submission and love with which I have the honour to be, in the blessed hearts of Jesus and Mary, my Very Reverend and very dear Father,
Your very unworthy and very devoted servant and son,
Baty,
Apostolic priest.

Notes

  1. Te Araroa was no doubt a Maori village on the Mahia peninsular. According to the author’s description (in the following document) it was situated beside the sea, “on the Northern part” of the peninsular, to the South of the East Cape and even to the south of Tauranga (Gisborne), a little more than forty kilometres from Wairoa, where he went with the aim of doing pastoral work among the Maoris who knew Catholic prayers (cf. doc. 114, § 2, 5-6, 8-9) and from where he wrote a letter to the Bay of Islands on 19 December 1841 (unpublished letter from Baty to Epalle, APM OOc 418.22). If the author says that he does not know the “European name of this peninsular” (doc. 114, § 2), he certainly knows that the Maori name is Mahia, because several days after he arrived on 30 September 1841, he wrote to Epalle “from Taheke, one of the places under my new jurisdiction of Mahia” (unpublished letter of 8 October 1841 from Baty to Epalle, APM OOc 418.22, § 1); as well, in a letter of 18 January 1843, he places this mission on “the peninsular of Mahia” (doc. 232, § 6). Also, In May 1842, Petit-Jean says that Baty writes from Mahia (doc. 159, § 3) and Garin indicates in July 1842 that Baty returns from Mahia to Kororareka (cf. doc. 178, § 2).
  2. Cf. the letter of 21 November 1840 from Colin to the missionaries (CS, doc. 218, § 25) where, in addressing in turn several missionaries, he writes: “I have also received yours, dear P. Baty, with the greatest of pleasure”.
  3. Cf. His letter of 25 January 1841, in which one can also read the remark: “I fear that all my letters might not have been sent” (doc. 84, § 1); in fact, previous to that one, the only letter from Baty to Colin conserved in the APM is from 26 August 1838 written several days before his departure from France for Oceania.
  4. In fact, Baty will remain “ten months less a few days” at Te Araroa, which he will not leave till 10 July 1842 (cf. doc. 216, § 2; 233, § 13); towards the end of that month, he will be in Auckland at the home of Forest, who began this mission not long before (cf. doc. 186, § 3, 5; 205, § 12-13). This stay will be brief, as Baty will return to the Bay of Islands on 24 August 1842 (cf. doc. 216, § 1; also doc. 194, § 8).