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1 May 1842 — Father Jean Pezant to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Tauranga

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, June 2008

To Very Reverend Father Colin, Superior General of the Society of Mary, 4 Montée St Barthelémy

J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)

Tauranga, in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, this first day of May 1842

Very Reverend and well-beloved Father in Our Lord
It is with deepest respect, most complete submission and most lively gratitude that we received your letters, so full of tender solicitude and the fatherly advice you offer us from the other side of the world. I was particularly moved by the concern you showed for us, Father Tripe and myself. For me, it is a two-fold duty to write to you; firstly to renew to you the expression of my respect and submission, and then to relieve you of worry. So I am happy to be able to tell you that the business about the Arabella, the British frigate which, people said, was pursuing us, was only a story; after a week short of 5 months we arrived at Kororareka, (Bay of Islands) where the Bishop lives. We had not even experienced any danger, although we were pushed along rather briskly for a month. You cannot really blame whaling ships for small things. So the Cachalot which reported to you that on the 17th June we were in good health, knew nothing at all about this. From the 25th March (our departure from Gorée[1]) until the 11th July we spoke to no ship; those which we saw were always very distant. We would have arrived with our hearts full of joy, but for Brother Amon’s defection – he left the Society and the mission on his arrival in New Zealand. Various factors contributed to this defection: for my part a lack of experience and skill in managing Brothers, even a lack of kindness on three or four occasions; for the rest, the company of the people on board and the atmosphere among them. I was desolated by all that; I did, while on board, everything I could to bring back that poor Brother; but he was invincibly obstinate. It was only on the point of death that he came back to an appropriate disposition; because he died the day after the [feast of the] Immaculate Conception, in the same year 1840, piously and with repentance.
I must admit to you as well, Very Reverend Father, that the difficulties of the first post to which I was sent, at Akaroa, and the whole situation of the mission, which from a distance seems rosy and wholly successful, discouraged and saddened me, and so led me to very much criticise, although without bad intention, the leadership of this mission; but I must add, for your consolation, that God has given me the grace to entirely draw back from all that, and now I am, and wish to remain always inviolably attached to the anchor of obedience.
The Bishop sent me here pretty well a year ago, and I am the sole priest here with good Brother Euloge, who is my consolation. But I am between Father Séon and Father Borjon; I see them alternately every month, first one and then the other. We mutually encourage each other to do good. I can only gain a tremendous amount from this double proximity. I must tell you, to quieten your concerns, that up to now God has kept us all from serious faults, and that your children are still what they were when they left you. It seems to me that spiritual dangers are much less here than in France. There are special graces for missionaries. I am stopping there, because I know that you do not have the time to read long letters. I urgently commend myself and the Tauranga mission to your prayers and holy sacrifices, and will receive with respect, submission and gratitude all the criticisms and advice you will be kind enough to send me. Only allow me to be and to still call myself,
My dearest and Reverend Father
Your most humble and obedient servant and son in Our Lord
Jean Pézant
Missionary apostolic priest of the Society of Mary.
Tauranga 1st May 1842


  1. Goree was on the West African coast - translator’s note

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