From Marist Studies
17 December 1841 – Father Catherin Servant to his parents, Hokianga
APM Dossier Servant.
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, September 2014
- M Jean-Antoine Servant, in the village of Grezieu-le-Marché, Canton di St Symphorien le Chateau, Department of Rhône, in France
- Hokianga, New Zealand
- 17 December 1841
- Dear Father and Mother,
- Your letter of 17th November 1840 is almost only a story of deaths. It seems that our former friends keep on dying. Life down here is very short. A few moments more, and we ourselves will go and appear before God: so why attach ourselves to this passing world? The most important thing for us is to ready ourselves to die well.
- I am very happy to hear that everything in our family is going well. I bless God that He is pleased to give you all good health, but is the soul in good health? How many prayers I say in God’s presence so that my dear father, mother, sister, uncles, aunts, and cousins will each day work towards their salvation! How I wish that we all merited to see each other again in Heaven. For that reason, let us love God in this world, and never cease to love Him.
- Now, dear father and mother, I see with pleasure that you are quite resigned to the will of God concerning the vocation I have to follow; I really think that the sacrifice which cost so much in natural ways is no longer painful for you. How gently God disposes hearts [to accept His will]. Even though I am far from you, I do not cease to love you, and if you knew how often I place you in the holy hearts of Jesus and Mary! For your consolation, I will say that I am very happy in the mission. My health, which you believed to be weak, is holding up very well indeed. It seems that the good God is blessing this mission of Western Oceania. From every direction people are asking for ministers of our holy Church. But the number of workers for the gospel is still small. So pray to the master of the harvest that he send a great number of workers. As for the Hokianga mission in which I am employed, it is not doing badly – good is being achieved, and without fuss. But the work is quite great. Will you have compassion for me? I have a great load on my shoulders, I must give an account to God for several thousand souls among whom are a good number of Protestants and several hundred pagans. But God wants it this way, may his holy name be blessed. Now that our beloved natives are cultivating their fields, I am staying in our house; soon I hope that, with the grace of God, I will be able to visit these poor people from time to time – I love them very much. We don’t yet have a church building in Hokianga. Several Catholic tribes have already built one of them for themselves, but they are only made of certain plants found in the area. The Hokianga has little in the way of resources. You cannot build in stone here because it is hard to find any. So churches have to be built of planks, but planks are expensive. I don’t know when we will have the happiness of having a church. We will have that church when it pleases God. The most important thing is doing His holy will.
- Come on, dear Father, will you not come to see me a bit, and you, good Mother, you do not forget to be charitable to the sick.
- Dear Françoise, let us help, with joy and patience, our dear Father and Mother. Are we applying ourselves to being their support and their consolation?
- Dear Jeanette, are you thinking of becoming a saint? How is that little child doing? I hold it against you that you have not sent me his baptismal name. Are you being patient in the trials of your situation?
- Dear brother Séon, will you still be kind enough to write to me? I think your health is better.
- My respects and greetings to Fathers Buffard and Blanchard, to whom I will write in a few months. My greetings to all my relatives and friends.
- All your,
- Missionary Apostolic
- All your,