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28 & 31 July 1842. — Father Jean-Baptiste Petit-Jean to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, January 2015

[1] [In the margin and cross-wise]
In the same wrapping there will be several letters: 1 to the Propagation of the Faith on behalf of Father Brady, to Father Colin, 1 to Father Perret, and two others with 3 cuttings from newspapers, and a note in the form of a letter to Mr Perret, architect. He is not ready, it will be for another occasion; I will try to write a summary duplicate through Mr Cooper. I am going to try to take this packet to the French Consul. This letter should have 28 pages, I add as well an 8 to 9 page letter to my brother-in-law.

I am beginning this letter on 28 July 1842 – in Sydney.

Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Very Reverend Father,
You must have received from me a letter dated at the end of June or the beginning of July of the same year. It informed you that such were our needs that on the advice of all the Fathers, I found myself forced to undertake a journey to Sydney with the plan of going there to borrow some money.[1] I succeeded in doing that, but not without great difficulties, and so, through the agency of the house of Cooper I have drawn £400 (1000 fr) on you. You can imagine how difficult it has been to send you such orders. In Sydney I borrowed £300 in coin, less £30 discount; and £100 in merchandise which we needed less 5% discount. Mr Cooper at first only wanted to be £1000 in all, and I got him to agree to act in the way I have just described. Things are very bad in this part of the world, as elsewhere. Alas, it is pride that is ruining the world. Ambition has neither rules nor measure; everyone wants to stand out, to outdo his equals and God allows people to fall. Such is the great reason for financial failures, a reason also assigned by wise men. I am very much ashamed that my last letter was not signed. The reason is that while leaving Sydney with one of the priests from this town, I was made to hurry and I completely forgot to add my signature [to it]. That is, at least, how I recall it. As for the triplicate of letters, letters of advice, bills of exchange which I sent you as well, if anything is not in order, could you please excuse me. I didn’t have any models [to follow] and it was the first time I had written letters of that sort. The sum was shown as payable in pounds sterling. I observed to Mr Cooper that it would be better to put the sum as payable in French money; he did not at all agree with that; for the rest, I think that this indication will not cause you any loss, to the contrary, in Lyons there is a greater demand for French money that any other currency. You feel how cruel a thing it is to leave one’s mission to come and beg for a loan at great cost. However I will try to turn my stay in Sydney to some advantage, so as to compensate the mission a bit for the expenses we have had to undergo.
During this time some pounds have been subscribed for the future church at Kororareka. The collection will not increase, at the most, people will pay what they have promised. The times are bad, and I hardly dare talk about it in a country where the people are overwhelmed by collections for church and charitable organisation. Another reason also making me a bit fearful is that everyone is talking to me about that church in Kororareka. For a long time that chapel has been prominently discussed; people want it made beautiful and imagine nothing less than a fine brick building.
Alas, I really fear that we are convinced of our powerlessness, that our reputation is decreasing and that God’s glory suffers as a result. Let us console each other. God will perhaps make his glory shown in some other way. I will take to New Zealand 2 cows and 2 calves (2 of these animals have been given to me), a hive of bees (donated), some fruit trees (donated), others that I will buy, as well as rabbits and pigeons donated – perhaps I will buy some sheep. I am considering taking away some seeds, especially seeds of fodder crops. I will also buy some flour etc. We need some bread at the Bay of Islands. Now I hope that when I get back I will find an oven ready for use, and then we will not pay for bread, as we usually have, at 16 pence a pound. I am not mistaken, it was indeed 16 pence, and, as well, the English pound is less in weight that the French livre. I am saying what I will do. Let me add “if the good God so wishes” because in the missions and in this country especially everything is in God’s hands and we have to abandon ourselves to Him when we have done everything we can. My tried and true system would be to not see things as certain, and to give, if possible, more than has seemed to be promised. The state of our mission – I mean its state of financial need – is perfectly known and it would be perfectly useless to try to hide it. People exaggerate it somewhat. In these islands, a reputation flies from port to port and makes known all the news. So Mr Joubert in Sydney, who was in Akaroa on board our naval vessels, knows a thousand stories, true and made up. The priests and Catholics etc. I was very careful not to state anything exactly for fear of some inexactitude. Finally, I was so pressed to declare the number that, remembering that the Bishop has announced 15,000 catechumens at the end of a journey he had done, I repeated that number and said: “There are perhaps, indeed, 15 to 20 thousand Catholics in New Zealand”, and urging at the same time that nothing of this should be published. I will not hide from you, very Reverend Father, that about this matter I am very ignorant and I leave to others the responsibility of informing you exactly. Here is something which proves that the world judges a little maliciously various things that our administration does in New Zealand. So, Mr Joubert, in a social gathering, while speaking about the Bishop’s vessel, let these words be heard: it’s a whim which is costing the Bishop a lot. The point is that up till now no one has seen the real services this vessel has given us. Finally, a ship of this size which is not involved in commerce is a formidable undertaking in people’s eyes.
Almost all the people who came up to me told me that Bishop Pompallier had left for France, and the clergy added: “What a pity it would be to leave a mission still so young and in such circumstances.” The difficulties are indeed more serious than they see. There we are, almost without resources in terms of men, with debts up to 10% interest, a ship is going to arrive and is going to finish up swallowing us up. It will be sold cheaply, right now ships are cheap because of the languishing state of commerce. The Protestant bishop is now in New Zealand. Protestantism has arrived. In this country I presume [it is] all the better equipped and funded in the measure that our reputation has been declared to be more powerful. I have just received a letter from the Bay of Islands. No book yet ready to print, no publisher, Father Baty has not yet returned to the mother house. Everything is groaning except for the press which, as Father Garin says, is groaning at not groaning. People are getting ready to send two priests to Port Nicholson; one is going to stay in Auckland until Father Baty comes to take up his post in Auckland. It is obvious that for some time there have been too many of us priests constantly at the Bay of Islands. Did I tell you that the Sydney clergy, mainly Irish, are very generous and quite devoted to our mission? Two priests each gave me one pound so I could say a Mass for each of them, and if Father Murphy, the Vicar-General, had not endorsed the bill of exchange I sent you,[2] I think I would not have got very much. And Mr Perret has left for France. May God be blessed and eternally blessed. I said above that we were almost without resources; I was wrong, we still have great resources – in littleness and humility, through those we will certainly be saved, not however without passing through the fire which will test our work – to show whether it is of straw or something else. It was most necessary for us to be in a frequent and perfect relationship with the Bishop of Sydney and his clergy. We had nothing but profit from dealing with a Bishop who is so good, so devoted to us, he wept when he was asked to bless the people of New Zealand. He kept us informed of many things, especially at the time of the governor’s arrival.[3] He showed us how the English and Irish people were governed, how, in particular, land is got from the government for building churches, presbyteries, to have gardens, cemeteries etc. Alas, we bought a site at the Bay of Islands for a huge price, and the government gave us in Auckland, or gave to the Catholics an obviously insufficient piece of land. I noted the area of land which it (the British government) customarily gave for sites of churches etc in the towns in Australia.
It would be really very important to know a little of English laws and customs, and especially those which rule a colony. A good conversation and a good letter would be enough for that. In the time of Mr Bourke, under his government, the legislative council passed an Act called the Church Act which, in Australia, put the Catholics on an almost equal footing with the Protestants, and in the matter of rights, they are equal [in law] even when in fact they may not be always so.[4] This Church Act had to be observed in New Zealand from the beginning when New Zealand was like a branch of the government at Sydney. Now that New Zealand is a separate colony, will this Church Act be recognised, perhaps? If I have the time and the means I will get this Act and copy it for you, but I will certainly copy it for New Zealand. We are dealing here with a skilful people, who have means, and are going ahead and almost surely to their goal, without making a big show, in the same way, generally, as the Protestant leaders in these countries.
The English, whether Catholics or Protestants, have no greater concern than to see a church, I mean, the first thing all of them want for their religion is a church. The first thing they raise – is there a church? We have to head for real poverty and be seen as [poor]. In this way people will stop asking us if Bishop Pompallier is not very rich in France, and they will not be tempted to come and ask us for donations for different causes. Ego sum pauper et dolens.[5] We have, I will say, almost made a mania of giving a glass of wine to strangers who came to see us at the Bay of Islands – I haven’t noticed that custom among the Sydney clergy. As for me, I would sometimes allow myself to be tempted to serve someone some wine. We have, if I am to be taken seriously, to break that custom. It seems to me that we have been overwhelmed by visits because we tried too hard to be popular. Brevity, sometimes, even in the best conversations and gatherings. That done, St Vincent de Paul often said, let’s finish.
I said, in my letter at the beginning of July, that it was important to multiply as quickly as possible the missions by prefectures apostolic or vicariates. With the grace of God and wise management, it seems to me that many things are easy. But no promises to the natives, no undertakings. Today the natives are generally kept down by fear of the whites and especially by warships. Then, it is true, God sometimes allows particular things to happen in order to prepare a chosen person for the forewarned grace of martyrdom. Truly, when you are in this part of the world, you find that occupying the islands at least physically, settling there to preach the gospel, is not a difficult thing or, at least, not as dangerous as one might imagine in France. Here, I can assure you nothing seems more simple. Look at the Protestant missionaries, they sweep up almost everything, establishing themselves with the Bibles so tenaciously that no one knows afterwards how to get the people back from these false pastors – for that you need many weapons and the use of costly means without which you don’t succeed. St Francis Xavier always said that for the greatest part of his mission he didn’t need learned men, but only solidly trained men. That is what is enough for so many islands where among the Protestants the most mediocre men, humanly speaking, seem to have some success. Ah, good heavens, for lack of those priests who are devoted and solid in virtue, with good will, souls are perishing, in particular the souls of so many poor little children who do not know how to distinguish their two hands from each other. Things must be done as quietly as possible, so as not to raise alarm in the enemy camp. When you are ready, then you act. And so, with stories of conversions, but if one were to publicise these conversions in the very place where they occurred, that could annoy the Protestants themselves who have abjured [Protestantism] and also arouse rage and fury in the devil and his supporters; we have to silently undermine Protestantism as much as attacking it head on.
I said in my letter at the beginning of this month that, at a meeting where I was urged to make a little statement, I had spoken about Lyons, as the clergy wanted, I had even exalted that noble city. It has to be noted here that this name “Lyons” is extremely dear and precious to all the Catholics and in particular to the immortal Catholics from Ireland, and Father Brady, a priest belonging to the Sydney mission, today about 40 years old, told me that from the age of 8 years he had heard Lyons praised as being a city remarkable for its faith and already heard it said, “Fine Catholics there”. There are excellent Catholics in Lyons. What noble competitiveness that must give to the dear children of Lyons, what holy pride, what humility, to not respond to all the attention of the Catholic world! While ascribing to Jesus and Mary all the good there is in that city, what fear is there, alas, of it degenerating? Oh, how much we need the glory of the grace of God! As I observed to Father Brady, a pious priest, that the spiritual wealth of Lyons came to it from its martyrs and the shrine, blessed a thousand times, dedicated to Mary. It is the same thing, he said to me, Ireland has great devotion to Mary; it is through it that Ireland has preserved its faith in the midst of so cruelly prolonged persecutions, and which is at last raising its head because its deliverance has come. It is the same, he went on, with all the countries who have been devoted to the Mother of God. This man told me about a beautiful Catholic chapel in the middle of the city of London, dedicated to the most Blessed Virgin and in which are carried out every day pious exercises – the chapel of the German Catholics. Lyons is a beautiful flower in the Church’s garden, spreading its sweet scent everywhere. Reverend Father, that good city of Lyons truly gives lustre to our little Society and, certainly, we really hope we will not dishonour it.
Please excuse the lack of order in my thoughts. I said in my letter mentioned above that a gentleman from Sydney named Milne, certainly a fine man, has been visiting for 12 years the following islands: New Zealand, Tahiti, the Friendly Islands [Tonga], the Navigators [Samoa], the Sandwich Islands [Hawai’i] and even occasionally anchors in New Caledonia, which is not far from Sydney. I believe he has not done any voyage, for 12 years, other than visiting these islands – sometimes one, sometimes another, as well he has carried Protestant missionaries into several of these islands and has carried them the supplies they need. He anchors from time to time in Tongatapu and Vava’u. If I had the map before me I would speak to you more knowledgeably. There are Protestant missionaries in Tongatapu, Vavao and, I believe, in the Navigators and New Caledonia – I doubt if there are any in Fiji. There is a large population in that islands group. There is a fine river in one of the main islands of that last named group, I believe, Ambow or Amboine.[6] (Other island groups to the north, less known, more savage – in the direction of Torres Strait – reefs. I don’t have my map in front of me. Tongatapu is well disposed towards us in the main, according to the report of several people and even from French whalers. In Vavao humanly speaking the Protestant mission seems well run. There are good people. After Wallis, it seems to me that the Fiji islands would suit well our Reverend Father Bataillon. There is a good people in New Caledonia, there is not yet, I believe, anything advance in the Protestant mission – it’s no doubt only a sort of forward position occupied by some peaceful man.
New Guinea would no doubt be the theatre for a fine mission. Perhaps some understanding with the Belgian or Dutch governments could be reached – it’s said one of them has a station there –so as to send missionaries to this great island, with the idea of getting some material support, for example, having them transported free of charge on one of their ships. Java and Timor – especially Java – seem to be the central places of the Dutch for their colonies in these seas. I say this because I have heard it said that there is a Dutch station in New Guinea. Perhaps the court of Rome would do well to suggest this New Guinea mission to some Belgian congregation of priests, if there is one, for example to the Jesuits, because it’s really necessary to provide, or get provided for, the salvation of so many pagans for whom the good God will demand an account from those responsible for them. The Dutch government’s reply could be seen, and if it was not favourable, the missionaries could be sent quite carefully without saying too much about it to the Dutch and always pretending to have an agreement with them. Anyway, the Dutch are known to be a jealous people, claiming a monopoly, hardly letting people know of their discoveries. The seas around the coasts of New Guinea are not very often sailed in, many reefs can be seen on the map, several frighten people from the Torres Strait. My letter should be carried by a French ship which is going to go through it, that strait. I am deciding to have it sent through England. This ship named, I think, Amelie Raymond, is on a return trip to Bourbon whence it came loaded with sugar for this colony, and it must come back from Bourbon to here immediately. Reverend Father Épalle will give you, I hope, all sorts of explanations.
I wear the soutane in the streets of Sydney without any problem and, as a priest and religious, I have reason to congratulate myself. The Fathers who came after us put off the soutane in Sydney. The Lord be blessed. Unity as much as possible. Everyone, I think, acted from good motives. It’s for you to decide, very Reverend Father; as for me, I sent to France the advice that we had the soutane in Sydney. Father Brady doesn’t wear it still in the streets except for religious ceremonies. He wants Bishop Polding to re-establish it.
It is clear that to be allowed to draw money on you in Sydney, very Reverend Father Superior, two or three permissions, correctly drawn up, would be needed; one from you, authorising the Bishop, the other from Father Cooper authorising his correspondent to act, because without him, our name, very Reverend Father, would not be very well known in business circles, and an authorisation from the Bishop for the priest who would go to Sydney to carry out a negotiation of this sort. But it is useless to set such conditions. I know very well that you do not want to profit by this; certainly not, you do not want your name known in the various business places and then… and the rest… there remains to find out about the easiest, quickest and least expensive ways of getting [them] to our mission.
Well, it seems the best would be to deposit this money first in one of the big London banks and send it then to one of the big Sydney banks, so that the time that this money would stay in the bank would buy back through interest the cost of transporting or exchange of money, or perhaps better, our Fathers, going through London, would take their money from the bank and would bring it here in cash. I mention big banks, because experience shows that private banks are not very stable, as shown by Wright’s bank.
It really seems to me that it would be appropriate that the mission reserve be left here deposited in one of the general banks in Sydney. One of the main reasons is that the money there is not exposed to robbers, to fire, and it has besides all the safety measures that are desirable and possible in business. In Sydney everyone acts in this way. The businessmen don’t have money in their offices. They have an open credit at the bank, and when they pay someone, they quite simply give a voucher for so much payable at the bank. The clergy do this and this way of doing things is very convenient; when you deposit your money in a bank, you get a receipt for it. All the time this money remains deposited, gets 4 per cent (that is the least earning rate nowadays). If you keep the right to withdraw it when you wish, if you deposit it for at least 6 months, then the interest is higher. And if, in that time, you need money, well, I presume that in losing interest you can no doubt have it from the bank. Or what is better, you profit from the same credit you have, to make out a voucher payable in six months. I suppose the creditors will be happy with it, and you will not lose the interest from your money. I haven’t examined the matter. But it seems fairly certain that it is in this way permitted to put your money in the bank; even the most pious churchmen in these countries do not do otherwise, it seems.
The French consul in Sydney has given me the address of his banker in Paris: M Hérard, rue St Honoré, n°371. At the same time he told me that there was a firm that corresponded with M Hérard, and so that one could use these two firms; but I think the French consul should be thanked (Faramond is his name) This way of doing things is not, perhaps, as safe, and as well I am of the opinion that these two firms do very little business and, as well, that they do it through London. Which is more advantageous, is what I inquired about, and found that the consul sent a part of our correspondence mixed up with despatches to the French government. This consul seems to be a good man; he did his philosophy [7] it seems, he even acknowledged he had been called to tonsure.[8] We owe, at Sydney, £59 – to Mr Joubert. His father-in-law owes us 100 of them, but Mr Joubert does not intend that the loans be mixed up and that there be compensation. We owe 9 or 10 pounds to a doctor at the Bay of Islands. Father Épalle did not have that note when he left. The Bank of New Zealand seems to me all the less secure as the affairs of this colony are less prosperous, and the little money in the country goes out of it to pay for the supplies that the ships bring.
If I didn’t think of it, people should do what St Francis Zavier recommended, that is, to get the children in the schools to pray for the missions. Along with this great saint, I believe that there are no better ways to get what we ask for. I have read recently in the Annals of the Propagation (it was the statement of a Jesuit) that a missionary living in a country, remaining in one spot, would be less fruitful in his work than when he went from country to country, from town to town, so truly living his call as an apostle. I read also (in the life of that saint), St Francis Xavier deliberated over leaving this or that place, I believe in the Indies, because he could not achieve fruit there, and the peoples did not provide it. These examples can be useful.
I have not yet clearly seen that our Brothers in these missions could not, on Sundays, for example, wear a habit that distinguished them from lay people; there are many reasons in favour of it. The edification which would arise from that for the people, even for the Protestants seems to me to be a great reason; it would be seen that those are good Brothers who are wholly devoted to God and not to money, as is customary here.
Recently I expressed a wish that missionaries apostolic in our Society could keep three Masses each week free for their own special intentions, which is exactly the number of the 3 privileged Masses they can apply to the souls in purgatory. I am allowing myself to say this with the freedom of a child. I would like that in our Society, after the rosary, the de profundis was added, which is the ordinary practice among the faithful.
Father Murphy has just now received letters from Heptonstall which assure him that he has received letters to Father Colin’s address, and that he has taken care to entrust them to the French Embassy.[9]
The Customs regulations at Sydney are such that one cannot land any French merchandise coming by a French ship, the duty on which goes over 7 or 7½ per cent, so sugar from our colonies is allowed in because the duty on the sugar is only 7 to 7½per cent. Our wines are rejected because the duties on wines are higher. In England it’s not on the amount of the merchandise but on its value that Customs laws are applied so that, if you deceive the officials and they find that the price is too low, then they can take the goods for themselves and refund you the money.
Now I have only one task to fulfil. It concerns, very Reverend Father, introducing to you a very fine man who was already known to me, but whom I have been able to appreciate better during my present stay in this country. He is a priest who is a parish priest at Windsor, I think about 7 or 8 leagues [about 35 to 40 km] from Sydney.[10] I am going to picture him to you and say a little about his life. This will be before a request I want to make of you in the name of Jesus and Mary in union with this gentleman and Bishop Polding. This good priest, surnamed Brady, did his clerical studies in one of the seminaries in Parish open to the Irish. Ireland is his home country. He had some difficulty in entering the clerical house of studies at Maynooth in Ireland because of a scruple, which derives from the fact that those who leave it are held to a sort of oath in favour of the government,[11] and this young man, he was young then, although a very submissive man, and was afraid of this oath and gained a place in one of the seminaries in Paris, the one where are trained the priests who are to be sent to the French colonies. His family is a family of fine people and, I can say, a family of saints. Very Reverend Father, please put up with these details, the matter is really worth the trouble. On the day of his ordination to the priesthood, he heard of the death of his pious mother. Then he renounced going to see his family, and while each of the newly ordained priests was expressing his preference for going to this or that colony, pious Father Brady, this priest, according to the heart and will of God, was ready to go wherever he was sent. He was sent immediately to Bourbon Island.[12] He spent 13 years there, God knows with what edification, his name was blessed by all the inhabitants by all the naval officers who knew him. He was the one who brought the Brothers of the Christian Schools to Bourbon Island. It was with some of his savings that he built their school, and some of the money he had destined for this pious plan has not yet been paid back to him. He could have sent from his savings some help to perhaps needy members of his family, alas, those poor Catholics of Ireland have for so long been robbed, bled, devoured by those ravenous Protestants thirsting for the blood of poor Ireland; but no, he left his savings in the French colony and used them for the good of his beloved flock. I know that more than 600 children have, through the services of the good Brothers, become sharers in the benefits of a Christian education. I know only a part of the good he has done, and I assure you that I have seen the most moving letters which the most estimable people on the island of Bourbon sent him. In 1837 he was in France, in Italy he was able to bring to the feet of the sovereign pontiff the petitions of the Catholics of the Cape of Good Hope who longed for a pastor. Providentially he had visited them and these good but abandoned Cape Catholics asked for him as a priest. At that time that part of the Catholic flock, as well as Australia and New Zealand, were under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Mauritius or Ile de France[13] and the Court of Rome did not think it good that the Bishop himself had not written concerning the extreme needs of the Catholics of the Cape and others.
(Here Father Brady made an observation to me that experience has proved him right, which is that the holiest bishops (they are at least liable to it as other people) think in such ways that, being able to satisfy the spiritual needs of a flock that is too scattered and numerous, especially in overseas countries, do not ask that this flock be split up so that part of it is given to others; they want to do everything themselves and cannot and do not adequately set out its needs to the Court of Rome, and I mean by this, its special needs. So the former Vicar-Apostolic of Mauritius perhaps found himself in this situation, similarly Bishop Polding, complaining that he could not care for his huge district and, in particular, extend his care to Van Diemen’s Land. Father Brady, who enjoys the full respect of that worthy Bishop, was the first one to tell him: Bishop, suggest to the Court of Rome to appoint a bishop for it, this or that man. And if the British Government would not pay for this new bishop, he would at least receive the pay of Bishop Polding’s Vicar-General, perhaps if Bishop Pompallier had been more strongly advised, one would have already been provided for the interesting mission in the tropics.)
In short, this Father Brady was ready to return, with Rome’s approval, to his mission or even to the Cape of Good Hope when he was met in England or in Ireland by Bishop Polding or his Vicar-General, who laid out for him the huge needs of the Australian mission, its state of abandonment etc. Responsibility was taken to get his superiors to accept his move, and, if necessary, the Court of Rome as well. This good priest thought he could see the will of God in this, and allowed himself to be taken to Australia. He didn’t even wait to travel to Bourbon. He was appointed to Windsor, at the place I have told you. He’s been there only 4 years. Here is the good he has done there. Under his administration a fine church has been built there. The two arms of the transept of this church were to be destined, one for a school, the other for a presbytery. This priest had asked as a favour that the whole building be then consecrated as a church, saying that he would be easily able to find somewhere to live. In fact, he lived in cramped conditions, and, it could be said, in the view of the British, wretchedly in two or three little rooms which were taken from what would have to be, later on, an extension of the choir. There he had everything including his sacristy. His church will be finished later on. Bit by bit he is having a house built which he will use as a dwelling and a school. All at his own expense. He himself cut down the trees for the building. He goes as fast as his means allow. He has the bed and furnishings of a St Vincent de Paul, which contrasts strongly, I assure you, with the great ways of the British who want everything to be outstanding. In the English way of doing things he could have rented a fine apartment some distance away from his church, but no: he is a lover of simplicity, and then he wants to live near Our Lord. That’s not everything. In these 4 years he has brought into the bosom of the Catholic Church and right now he has 12 of them who, in his way of putting it, are travelling towards Rome. He has founded 3 or 4 schools among which is a boarding school for girls run by pious people.
(The woman who was in charge of this boarding school has just handed over her situation to another, and is going to enter a congregation, which will have a house at Windsor, of esteemed religious women, devoted to works of charity in Sydney, but they are too upper class for ordinary people to join, and as well they do not involve themselves in education. What Father Brady feels very strongly about, what he longs for, are the religious women of France, or the Visitation or of the Sacred Heart, for education, and some good Sisters of St Joseph to lay the foundations. Vocations to perpetuate these religious orders would be found abundantly in these countries. There are many fine Irish young women. Of course, I have not mentioned our Marist Sisters to him. I have rather told him to cast his eyes on the good Sisters of St Joseph. I am getting side-tracked.)
But here is his most admirable institution – a shelter for Catholic orphans. The rich Protestants, through this world’s resources and by philanthropy rather than through the real charity and poverty of Jesus Christ, had an institution of this sort, and were so much in a hurry to put it up that they hoped through that to rob the Catholics – in fact there were already 300 Catholic orphaned children fed by the cruel institution and snatched from the Catholic Church, the true mother.[14] Father Brady found resources in his poverty and in the generosity of the faithful and even of the Protestants, etc. Today 25 of these poor children live and are brought up in a Christian way through his care. People give money, food, clothes, cows for his little children etc… He finds cantors, servants among his children etc… Oh, what a fine seminary for the institution, a cradle of vocations, of the Brothers he longs for.
He has gathered together some deported Canadians in his parish, he already has one of them in his house; he is only waiting for Bishop Polding’s return to make, at least out of several, of all the Canadians, if it pleases God, a society, a community of builders, or pious workers etc. But he would need some Brothers from Europe to get these fine people to absorb the principles of religious life. You know, very Reverend Father, that these Canadians were deported for a political offence. Alas, they were seduced, dragged into revolt. They were threatened that if they did not take up arms, they would be driven out of the country like the British. Several of those who were exiled did not take up arms… Ah, these dear Canadians, I love them with all my heart; they have a devotion to the faith that I could not imagine. Out of 50 or 60 there were only, I think, 4 who were not religious, pious. They were ship-captains. But the others, it was really fine to see them. The British were edified to see their piety and their constantly hardworking lives; the ignorant or angry Protestants were astonished on seeing the Canadians and they said – are they also Roman Catholics? Nothing surprises this Protestant community more than seeing, as so many witnesses of the virgin and ancient faith of Rome, people from all parts of the world. Those Canadians were inconsolable at having to leave their homeland and children. You see, Reverend Father, how far love of country goes and what it means. People say to some of them, “Ah, if at least you came into exile with your wives and children!” No, they say, if we had to die here and never see our families again, we want our relatives to die in the country of the grandparents. Oh, they say, if only our exile had an end put to it! So they were inconsolable on leaving what had been most dear to them; well, they were still more inconsolable on leaving their priests, and what tormented them more was thinking that perhaps they would never see priests where they were being sent. Oh, the strength of the faith which raises the soul so much above the forces of nature; O priest, O religious, these are the feelings of ordinary people, mercenaries in the home of the heavenly Father, O apostolic man, O man of God, what are your own feelings? I am really afraid that these beloved Canadians, finding themselves scattered and far from their priests, will experience a diminution of fervour. Good heavens, what Christians! I pray that the Lord preserve them. You couldn’t imagine the depth of their joy when the Bishop went to say Mass on board of, I think, the Buffalo, which carried them, and who almost immediately went and was wrecked on the coasts of New Zealand. I heard the confessions of several of these good Canadians. Some must come to me, again.
Today, July 31, I have got a Frenchman to allow me to baptise his child, aged about 10 months. He refused it[15] alas, with a good heart, he has allowed himself to be led astray by the sad beliefs of our times. I am pretty sure, they were not married; God willing, I will sanctify their union with the sacrament. Alas, there would indeed be enough work in Sydney and its surrounding districts for two French priests. Bishop Polding has asked for them several times.
A few months ago, precisely at the time when the colony of Sydney was most depressed, when bankruptcies came one after another, wonderful things about Australia were published in France. All sorts of people, even certain young people, were given hope of brilliant and assured futures, and were invited to come to Sydney. Alas, they were deceived. It was the work of a few English or French who wanted to make some profit. Nevertheless, I tell many people, the French would make a living here more easily than in France, especially working people. Here there is a real and growing need for wine growers. The great difficulty is that the French are coming into the midst of a people and hardly know a word of their language. Apart from that, it can be said that the Irish especially give a real welcome to people from our country.
I was not able to resist the solicitations of this Father Brady, he had to go and spend some time at his home, he is a St Vincent de Paul, he wanted to spend part of this time on retreat. We lived constantly as two brothers (he is 41, my elder), doing our exercises of piety in common. He even asked me to give his people a little exhortation. It was the Sunday following the feast of St Vincent de Paul.[16] I thought I should accept. I am still a long way from the level of English I should have.
The problem, the great problem, is that I don’t have strong enough a desire to learn this language; when we are together, we speak in French; no, I don’t have enough real desire to take hold of this language of my new people. Those who want to practise this language, even in conversation, not seeing themselves supported, are afraid of being seen as unusual – they languish, they get old, they are unable. Courageous men are needed to really devour languages. The essential thing is to make prompt and constant use of the new language that they want to acquire.
I am finishing this article by saying that this Father Brady has the unreserved confidence of Bishop Polding and that he acts especially according to his advice – another note for edification – this good priest makes his own bed – he is served by his orphans. A brother and two sisters came to find him at Windsor where he is the parish priest. One of his sisters died in the odour of sanctity. The surviving sister lives a life that is hidden but glorious in the sight of God. She provides for the young orphaned boys and girls. The brother is in charge of some work, he cultivates a piece of rented land for the poor orphans. This gentleman or, rather, this good priest has in his house a good Canadian who owned a fine establishment in his country and who seems, if he was to receive his pardon and his right to return, determined to consecrate himself irrevocably to the Lord, along with some others of his friends.
Very Reverend Father, I urge you to come to the help of this good priest. I urge you, on my knees and almost with tears in my eyes: give him 3 Brothers, 3 good Brothers, one to supervise, to make sure the rule is observed, to look after the novices, and two others to do the work: may these good Brothers be, as much as possible, suitable for every requirement. Please give, at the same time, two priests. These two Fathers (Bishop Polding, I know, is asking you for them, as well as this good priest) will be either like missionaries, or giving retreats to the priests. Men of God understand very well how much a clergy formed of men gathered from so many different countries, however perfect they might be thought to be, needs to absorb unity in piety, fervour, clerical manners, in a regular house. French priests would be busy hearing the confessions of their fellow-countrymen; Frenchmen who, once settled in and mixed with other people, lose the bitterness against religion and holy things that some of these compatriots have absorbed from the plague-stricken schools of France.
But I am increasing the difficulty of the work – they would especially be concerned with the souls and bodies of these poor natives of Australia. Alas, these poor natives are languishing and dying of bodily and spiritual hunger. Up till now several have risked their lives too easily [Committed suicide?]. They have of course been driven into the interior, the Catholic religion has not yet tried to do anything for them. Will it be said that this race will die out without the flame of faith becoming lit in its eyes? Some Protestant missionaries, richly bribed, make a pretence of doing something for the natives. Hypocrites, they collect the money and that is all, it seems. Bishop Polding has seen these natives as poor abandoned children and so has been moved to his very depths, like a prophet. Very Reverend Father, we are destined for hidden works, let us be brave and take on that work, let us plant the banner of Mary in Australia right beside the cross. The Irishman, so devoted to Mary, looks for and tries to find here an image of his homeland in every aspect and principally in devotion to Mary. Listen, very Reverend Father, an abundance of vocations to the Brothers will be found among the young Irishmen. There is already a good number of edifying young men especially since several have joined the pious association for total abstinence from intoxicating drink.[17]
These two Fathers will set up a procure house for our mission and will receive the members of our mission who come to these seas, and from there will be moved to the various islands. Sydney will always be the great communication centre for all these islands. Notice even that he who would have to go from England to the Bay of Islands would do better to go through here than, for example, to go through Port Nicholson. Going via Sydney he would spend less time and money; there would be more opportunities from Sydney to the Bay of Islands or to Auckland which is little less distant than from (Port) Nicholson to the Bay of Islands. So it is important to have a procure house in Australia. It would be, I suppose, at Windsor, where everything is cheaper. There, at the same time, a college could be built. It seems to me that for a long time there will not be enough children able to pay board in New Zealand to begin a college there. There the college would be our responsibility. At Sydney or at Windsor, the college would be to our advantage. Our house would be supported by the mission of Australia, and not by our Society, nor by our mission. We would not be short of material means. People are generous, and, then, we will be founding something worthwhile.
We will find fine vocations, both for the Brothers and the Fathers. It is something seen to be needed, we need both English and Irish priests; with the Virgin Mary’s help, we need to make our work worldwide. Now here is a way of recruiting. In Ireland there is an abundance of subjects [vocations]; there are many of their young men who have finished their course in philosophy but who do not go on because the bishops are in difficulty and do not know where to appoint them. Now Father Brady has told me that there were many of these good potential candidates in his home district in Ireland, and that he would give us letters recommending us to his bishop, who, I believe, is Dr Bron,[18] so that we might have some well-chosen men who have done their philosophy and need only to do theology and novitiate. All will go well if the Blessed Virgin really wishes to remove the barriers. Here in Sydney, how many pious sons there are from good families, and others, who are fit for the eccelesiastical state. Men are needed to train them…
Reverend Father, here again is something which I see as prophetic. When I set out for Sydney, I took, as a pledge of happiness and protection, some hair from very Reverend Father Chanel. Without reproach, as people say, I promised 6 Masses, 1 for the intention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the others for the intentions of the holy angels, the Sacred Heart, the holy martyrs, the souls in purgatory and, I believe, St Joseph, yes, St Joseph. Now you are going to rebuke me. Father Brady being my friend, our Society’s friend, and I, presuming my Superior’s permission, gave him some of the Reverend Father’s hair, not, or rather, if not as relics, but at least as precious remains of a good priest, of a good missionary apostolic, etc… charging him not to give any to anyone. Finally, I took all sorts of precautions in respect of this man, this good priest so full of discretion; now, Reverend Father, he will be as the good God and the good Virgin will wish, but I gave this hair as if it was a forecast that our Society would come, I said to myself: I am, myself, beginning some small works and, coming for another plan, God is taking me by the hair like the prophet Habakkuk [Cf Daniel 14:33-39] and setting me to do what I wasn’t thinking of. Then: this hair is a seed of our Society; the brothers who are living will come back to rejoin the remains of their dead brother, and I do not know what relationship, what attraction will be set up between those remains and the living members of our Society.
Have I already said to you, Father-Superior, that it was good Father Brady who gave me a cow and a calf for New Zealand? Another reason, Reverend Father, we will easily be able to have good flocks in the good pastures of Australia, and so provide for our needs, and populate even our missions with cows and sheep. Finally, be persuaded that Father Brady prays that his plans succeed.
Here is a sign that proves that he is a man of God. In a burst of conversation, he told me about an event which impressed all the naval officers who saw it. In 1837, I think, when Father Brady was going from Bourbon to France on a naval vessel, the ship being commanded by a very pious captain name Macet, the voyage was, at first, very bad,. They languished in a terrible calm on the equator for, I think, 13 days. The officers were joking about the devotion of the captain who, they said, preoccupied with his rosaries and other prayers, had led them poorly, bringing them too close, I think, to the coasts of Africa. The ship being still in these same places, Father Brady said to the discouraged crew, who were asking him when they would get to France, he told them, I say, on the feastday of the conversion of St Paul (25 January) we will anchor in the harbour of Brest. Here is the outcome. On the 24th, after fast sailing, rapid and unexpected, they were off the harbour of Brest; on the evening of that day a pilot came and told them: Gentlemen, the wind is contrary, I cannot be responsible for bringing you in tomorrow. On the next day a favourable breeze got up, and on the 25th January the ship was anchored in the harbour at Brest. This circumstance amazed all the officers, and while not, however, ceasing to speak in a jocular way, they said that if there was ever a possibility of canonising Father Brady, they would go to Rome and make declarations as witnesses if they were still living. And indeed, that surprised me as well, and I kept this fact in mind as one adoring the already holy and productive life of this good priest.
A short time ago, in a flood which occurred, there was only his field of barley which was preserved out of all the fields round about, and everyone noticed that and said, “Look at the priest’s field; it alone is growing green again while all around everything is being drowned and ruined.”
M Perret left us the day after my departure for Sydney. He went to Valparaiso to meet up with Father Épalle. Alas, Lord, take pity on me. How much here is to be regretted. But paper would not be enough. These last two years have been years of real trials for this gentleman. Rightly, Father Brady, having realised, through me, that we had such a fine gentleman, and seeing the need for him in Australia, got a letter ready to invite him to come to him. He earnestly wanted him to come, God be blessed, God be blessed, God disposes of all things.
Here are the main features of the Church Act 29 July 1836.
1° When people have collected, by way of a special subscription, a sum of at least 300 pounds, and it has been used for the building of a church or chapel, or dwelling for the minister, in a place in any part of the colony, it will be lawful for the governor with the advice of the executive council, to draw from the colonial treasure, to help the undertaking, a sum of money which will not be greater than that raised by the special subscription. As well, it will not be greater than 1000 pounds. It will also be required that the special contributions will be paid and used during the three years from the date of the first payment made by the Treasury.
2° It will be lawful for the governor, with the advice of the executive council, to authorise from time to time a salary to be paid from the colonial treasury to support ministers of religion duly appointed to serve a church or chapel [already] erected or before being erected etc. If, at a reasonable distance from the aforesaid chapel there is a population of 100 adults, and if these people support a declaration expressing their desire to enjoy a divine service, it will be lawful to draw 100 pounds each year from the colonial treasury for the use of the minister of the said church, and if it is evident to the governor and executive council that there are two hundred people living and presenting the above-mentioned declaration, the salary will be 150 pounds. If the number of adults is 500, the salary would be 200 pounds a year. The convicts and the deportees who are in the service of the colonists will be counted, and will be able to be included in the number for the above declaration.
3° In the case where there are fewer than 100 adults, if the governor and executive council judge it expedient, they will lawfully be able to allocate to a minister 100 pounds a year.
4° If it is clear to the governor and the executive council that the number of people who are members of a certain religion, for the benefit of which the colonial treasurer has given a sum of money to help with the building of a chapel, church or home for the minister, has grown; in this case, following a declaration supported by as many people as is set out and required in this act (as has been seen above) the governor will lawfully be able, with the advice of the executive council, to add to the salary of the minister who serves that church, according to the number of people it has gained.
5° Every time that a sum of at least 50 pounds per year has been formed by the special contributions intended for maintaining a minister in whatever place in the colony where there is neither church nor chapel where the people who share the belief of the minister can reasonably gather, and – (the rest of the summary of the Church Act) – there are reasons to delay the erection of a permanent chapel for the use of these people, the governor can lawfully, with the advice of the executive council, have paid to such a minister a sum of no more than 100 pounds, and which will be equal to the sum resulting from special contributions. There then follow provisions which say that there will be trustees – guardians – administrators of the church’s goods – of the church itself, of the minister’s house. These trustees will be able to accept buildings, gardens, land for a cemetery etc.
Other provisions say that there will be pews for the poor who will not pay for them. As I understand it (if you admire this concern for the poor, you would be equally astonished at the care taken to move the poor away, to separate them from the rich). Some examples will give you an understanding of these almost crazy customs. Let us obliterate this word and, let us say, and say pedantic Protestantism. Recently in the town of Sydney there was a procession (processions are quite plain in comparison with those in France) of people who are called Teetotallers, those who completely abstain from alcoholic drink. In the procession I do not remember whether the total abstinence association formed by the Protestant and Catholic clergy for their part… Two priests went in carriages while the faithful, humble Irish people went modestly on foot. During this same month, a Catholic priest accompanied on horseback a patient on his cart going to the gallows. People say that a Catholic priest must be a gentleman, an important person in the sight of Protestants. Ah Reverend Father, Protestantism spreads its thinking everywhere, or at least, it give its colours and slight nuances to Catholic attitudes. In truth, the poor in England are very abased.
Fortunately in Australia there is a bishop who is a friend of humility, simplicity and goodness. He is on the side of ordinary people, especially the little people. It is easy to see that where the evangelical virtues are most abundant, there also are a thousandfold more fruits. As a witness to that is Father Brady, who has, in 4 years, brought in more than 150 Protestants, founded a boarding school, an institution for Catholic orphans, etc. Ah, Father, send some religious here, and perhaps their example will offer the people here an example of simplicity. It really seems to me that I had told you that it was Father Brady who gave me a cow and its calf for our mission. Some important things to tell the Reverend Father Procurator about: to ask the little association at Caen for church vestments for the church at Windsor where Father Brady is the parish priest. He is going to put up two altars, one to the Blessed Virgin and the other to St Vincent de Paul.
Even better would be a gift of this sort to the Catholics of Sydney. Send from France to Sydney as soon as possible, to the address of Reverend Father Geogeghan, parish priest of Port Philip[19] (this gentleman has given me a gift of 25 francs, let this be done for him, here we will be quickly repaid): 1° the history of the Church by Henrion; 2° with the biography by/of Feller – send that to Sydney, to the (Catholic) Bishop of Sydney – the money will be repaid; 3° the History of the Popes by Henrion;[20] 4° some works on the truths of natural religion, on psychology, for example, on the immortality of the soul. Let the cost of everything not be too much over 10 pounds. If there is something by way of an import duty to be paid in London, this gentleman will take care of it.
There are engravings of St Francis Xavier with a prayer on the back of the picture, and these words: “to gain the indulgence, each day recite the Pater, and Ave and the Credo and then make a gift of 5 centimes”. This practice, although very good, can’t it prejudice the outstanding work of the Propagation of the Faith? Denounce that to the Council of that organisation. I would not like to see the “5 centimes a week” on that picture.
I have read in the Annals something wrong – it’s the report of a Russian or Prussian traveller which is quoted, and according to which the Protestant missionaries in New Zealand are Americans – they are British – and that the natives being busy doing this or that have little time for their own work. This last situation seems random and false. Let the Council of the Propagation keep an eye on what basis the work is set up in various countries.
In Sydney on every first Sunday of the month [there is] a gathering of all those who want to come for the Catholic Institute of England and for spreading the faith. The money collected is shared these two purposes. There you have the offerings of a generous people. The books are being distributed here, there, and everywhere. These gatherings are excellent, but that is not all. Fr Brady understands the work and, when Bishop Polding returns, he is going to do his best to set it up everywhere on a firm foundation.
This letter is going to go, I think, with one from Fr Brady, for you, Father–Superior, directly for Bourbon, and from there it will go to France. I am enclosing as well three other letters,[21] You will do well to hold on to, and not deliver, the one addressed to Fr Perret,[22] unless his brother the architect has already returned to France. I am going, perhaps, to drop a line to the latter.
According to what I have transcribed to you of the Church Act, you can see how important it was for us who were first-comers, for us who had public opinion in our favour, for us who were in the presence of a new government, apparently rich and generous, to make the first moves, to complete the formalities and have applied to us the favours given by the Church Act, which are the same for Catholics and Protestants, by fulfilling the required formalities. Alas! If we knew, and could, we could do a lot of things. At the time I am speaking of, New Zealand was a dependency of Australia.
I am enclosing also in this envelope a letter for my sister – the wife of Mr Paillasson.
In my letter written at the beginning of July, I expressed my opinion that it would be better that the Bay of Islands were our procure house site than other places in New Zealand, thinking that the Bay of Islands would be a more central locality, and with better communications with the other islands of Oceania.[23] But right now I would be in a hurry to set up my procure and my college in Sydney. Men suitable for becoming priests and Brothers would abound there, and there would be offerings from the faithful. There are a lot of Catholics, in Sydney alone over 9000, and we would have many Protestant children. There, in the presence of God, is the situation as I see it. In or near Sydney, setting things up would cost us nothing. The cost would be borne by Catholic money provided by the country, or the bishop of the area would take what was allocated to him by the Propagation of the Faith.
Rev. Fr Épalle will tell you how Governor Hobson[24] in the beginning, to give himself some credit in the sight of his superior, Governor Gips [Gipps], and being driven by some devilish Orange Protestantism, magnifying the difficulties over which he had triumphed, he said, took the liberty of speaking about Bishop Pompallier in a most inappropriate way, picturing him as an .... arousing opposition to the government. A protest from the Catholics of the Bay of Islands appeared in the papers, totally in honour of Bishop Pompallier. I personally took to Sydney two letters from a certain Mr Maning of the Hokianga who as a Catholic Irishman[25] was accused of being an active agent of the Bishop. This gentleman’s letters were a complete and ignominious [p290] refutation of a man who, in whatever state of blindness, had seen as a Catholic someone who was of the same religion as himself, the Church of England. Now, having been given permission, I had these letters printed. After having reflected, consulted and prayed, I had an article published in the name of an anonymous correspondent, in which article I showed the accusation to be unfounded, because of what the Bishop had done precisely for the British government, as a pure favour on his Lordship’s part, eg his presence at the meeting, the gathering of chiefs at the Bay of Islands which seemed to accept the government, I said, and gave their signatures. The Bishop’s presence must have had its effects on the Catholic chiefs.[26] I showed that no-one could form any suspicion of that sort , neither against the Bishop, nor his priests, nor against his disciples.
Those who had disturbed the public peace were Protestant natives. Murders, and especially a frightful massacre with a fire, were the work of the latter group, recalling here a new covenant stained in blood... which however public misfortune, far from making us bold, only served to sadden our hearts, but we needed a complete justification... that the Protestant missionaries were not responsible for the faults of their disciples, communally speaking, any more than we – (for ours) – that anyway the natives had been astonished that the murderer had not been a Catholic, in view of what had been repeatedly told them so many times about fire, iron, that the Church used to cut throats, to burn - adding here while lamenting that the disciples of the Protestants in this country (and on that matter you can ask the disciples themselves) were better informed about the claimed cruelties of the Church than any truth concerning eternal salvation. Forced to praise the Bishop, I had him say: “I have not desired anyone’s wealth nor anyone’s land... [I have not been] supported by any government”. Those hands (mine) were responsible for the spreading of the faith, which is the work of every nation – sent by no-one if not the successor of St Peter: Feed my lambs – my sheep.[27]The priests forgave everything - pater ignosce illis[28] – they were happy... ibant gaudentes[29] - certainly they were not inclined to the least conspiracy – agere romanum est pati christianum - to suffer and to die is the lot of a priest, I say – nonetheless a reason for affliction. How shocked, on his return, would the Bishop have been to find, to read the reports about someone so honoured by him - reciprocal marks of friendship – having eaten at each other’s tables, tu homo unanimis.... dulce capiebas cibos in domo Dei[30] – and to stop there, there only were they divided, and it is no doubt that that had inspired in some slanderers the thought of denigrating the Catholic Bishop (I placed the blame on the slanderers and excused the governor as much as possible.) The Catholic missionaries love New Zealand because of the sweat they have poured out on it – sufferings – dangers which, if however they were culpable occasions for storms, new Jonahs, they would have to abandon the ship to bring about peace... and especially if they were not afraid to leave these young churches as orphans, as soon as a legitimate Father was provided there, at the least sign of ?? would have to be ready to speed to new works and dangers... Then there was Mr Maning’s letter – and there was this reflection afterwards, which aroused deep sighs, which was to see the prejudices of a great number of separated brethren – prejudices which blinded some Protestants to the point that if they saw even one of their people pay a civility to a bishop or a priest, they would take that worthy Protestant for a papist. Such, in effect, seemed to be the case with Mr Maning.
I am too long, very Reverend Father, I need space to say something to all our Fathers. Dear Society of Mary, rather than forget you, let my tongue... let my hand[31]... I give thanks to Mary for the increase in her children.
Your unworthy but affectionate son,
J. Bap. Petit-Jean, Marist priest, Miss(ionary) ap(ostolic).
There is still a postscript to this letter. I am going to entrust it, with other letters, to the consul.
Postscript. I do not know how long the Church Act, whose principal articles I have transcribed for you, will remain in force. I hear that for Sydney it will last no longer than for six years. I spoke in my letter about putting the Propagation’s money, our money, in an English bank. The general banks, people say, are backed by the State. But is the State truly solid, and the London consuls, are they really strong? England can do no more, a serious war in Europe would be enough to bring England down. Today politics are money. The bankers decide on war or peace. When a state wants to make war, it has to find money to borrow. Now such are the relationships between the banks and the State, and the fortunes of the bankers often relying on the State, England, the State, if its foundation was lacking, all the other related banks would be ruined, everything would collapse. According to the principle set out above, it therefore seems that the Bank of New Zealand is safe like the others, perhaps, but nevertheless if these little banks get into difficulties, they remain in difficulty, and things are not hurried up as they would be in a big city where there is a firmly established government. I put forward these little ideas, not because I am perfectly informed on these matters, but I am pointing out what can be studied and researched. You have Mr Viennot who (or Rev. Fr Viennot) will give you precious information.
I am again considering, as something very important, the establishment of a Marist house here in Sydney. To place ourselves, in this way, in a relationship of communion with Sydney’s clergy and Catholics, few people see the strength that gives to religion; the light which results from it for a country more than half Protestant. Let us show them what it is to be Catholic, they do not understand it. In this same sense how much a gift coming from France and especially from Lyons, and addressed to the Catholics of Sydney, for example, a fine banner of St Patrick, how much good, I say, would be done by a gift of this sort, how it would be welcomed! And even, I believe, I would prefer that our New Zealand mission was deprived of a banner and it was sent to Sydney. It would be a source of holy pride for the Catholics in the sight of the Protestants. Something like that would create an enormous sensation. They totally lack fine things like this. Well, if I were in France, it seems to me that I would try to make this idea a reality. I am very certain that the people of Sydney would return that [gift] in another way.
Let us say something about English meetings. These meetings are public gatherings, the law protects them, they are orderly, everything in England is done by meetings – associations – plans for petitions – planning for, and carrying out of public actions – collecting donations for this or that purpose - at each meeting or gathering there is a chairman. Each person can speak in turn, people agree with each other – get angry – applaud each other, the offerings, the donations of each person are recorded if that is the purpose of the meeting. So, each Sunday there is a meeting to receive donations for the unfinished St Patrick’s church. In the same way there is a meeting each month and donations for the Propagation of the Faith. It’s up to each of us to see if in France we couldn’t more closely imitate these English people who so perfectly have the idea of doing things together.
I will say that I knew that Messrs Holt and Cooper would not attach importance to a draft payable in France, even if it were signed by Bishop Pompallier. So that Mr Cooper’s correspondent in Sydney can do things in a proper way, he has to be authorised by Mr Cooper from London, and you, Fr Superior, you must authorise Mr Cooper. If then, up to now people have drawn like this, on France through London, that has been, so to speak, an abuse of our character and the confidence people have in us. Let’s think about the money allocated to us. I wouldn’t be at all afraid of bringing my money directly from France if I was coming from there, and even more French currency – coinage is becoming so rare in comparison with paper money, that people would be satisfied to take French coinage at least to New Zealand, perhaps even 20 sou coins would pass as shillings for some time.
We are assured, in this country, that the French Government has taken possession of the Marquesas islands, [so] a new way of communication for us. From the Marquesas to Tahiti is only a short journey, often sailed; and from Tahiti to New Zealand there are many ships, in particular the Julia, which I have mentioned to you, and which this time is again going to visit several islands in our mission, Navigators –Fiji etc as I understand. Certainly, let us not break our relationship with Mr Cooper, nor with any of the Englishmen who up to now have obliged us. Mr Cooper is Sydney[32] has a business which seems very strong and enjoys great confidence. Let us continue to use the world. But we have to be careful to properly understand the word use.
The good God has really blessed me in Sydney. I have baptised a New Zealand child, another New Zealander, originally from the Navigator Islands, in danger of death, and as well, another New Zealander who manages what could be called the mother house for New Zealand sailors in Sydney. Just in one single whaling ship there were, on board, 16 New Zealand seamen. I baptised this last one on the eve of the Assumption. I have baptised the son of a Frenchman. This father wanted to blow his wife’s brains out if she had this child baptised; but anyway the child has been baptised and everyone is still alive. I have taken a French Catholic child out of a Protestant school; he will go into, I hope, a Catholic school. I heard the confession of a French seaman who was on board the Julia. I heard the confessions of 5 or 6 Englishmen, that of a Frenchwoman, but the ministry of Jesus Christ in my hands has nowhere been more fruitful than among the exiled Canadians. I visited them on foot in their various localities around Sydney. I was accompanied by a good Canadian patriarch, 58 years old, who had come from 30 miles away with a cow he brought to me. I am sure that the story of my visit would be of interest. We were joined on our way by a little dog who could tell the difference between all the Canadians and the English... But I will save this little story to edify my sister and brother-in-law in a letter I am writing to them. During my visit more than thirty Canadians approached the sacraments.
I looked for a protector for them in the town. In their favour I wrote a letter signed by the vicar-general of Sydney[33] and addressed to the Sulpicians of Montreal, all powerful, it is said, with the British government. Good heavens, how deserving of pity are these Canadians, most are good country people who know neither how to read nor write, and are very faithful to their religion; they have been misled and several of them have been sent into exile in a way that proves that human justice is subject to error. I thought I had to arouse public concern in favour of the Canadians by a modest little article which I got published in the Catholic newspaper. I hadn’t signed it, but the journalist betrayed me.
At the last monthly meeting people collected, in Sydney, 13 pounds sterling for the church of St Patrick, which is being built (that is the collection for all the Sundays), then 13 additional pounds for the Propagation of the Faith and the Catholic Institute.
A few years ago several crosses had been put on the Protestant cathedral in Sydney. The Protestant bishop[34] was astonished and during the night he had them all removed except one which remains on top of the steeple.
Recently an honest sailor came to ask me for some Agnus Dei because, he said, he would very soon be going to sea. Not having any agnus on hand, I offered him a medal. And he said to me in his simplicity: will it do the same thing? And when I saw his trust, I got animated and told him, certainly. And he accepted my medal joyfully.
I have been told by the French consul in Sydney that he did nearly all his theology at the major seminary at Bordeaux.
Reverend Father, by means of the work I have suggested to you, let us unite ourselves with Ireland which has so much devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Sydney is a big town, Sydney is a town with wealth. Would you believe it, this town is now almost entirely lit by gas, its steamships ply the rivers and coasts.
I believe it would be a good thing that if later on the bishop in New Zealand was British. In that situation we would be parish priests and curates. It seems to me that we would be better away from these places in New Zealand, responsible for our natives; I am almost sure that the British government would encourage our work and help us. In Sydney and in Australia, yes, not in New Zealand. This is not well thought out, let us get from the British government what we can. There you have my initial ideas without yet having thought them through well.
I will take about half-a-dozen cows – some trees – cherries, apples, pears, olives, mulberries, perhaps a good vine, about 20 sheep, - flour, salt, soap – panes of glass, about half of what we need - we will put the glass in, in part, in little planks and blankets.
When you have an opportunity, please send these names to the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart of Mary: John Henrick, Cornelius O’Brien, Dudley Ceter, Victoire Ceter. Now please, enrol the following people into the Third Order of Mary: Eliza Boddison, Elizabeth Stafford.
I am sending you some newspaper cuttings which I thought needed to be written and published; really beside the pride I experience and the desire I have, unfortunately, to be well-known, it seemed to me to be necessary to enlighten the public and to make them aware of the spirit of the missionaries of the Catholic Church. That is needed to bring down the Protestants who are Pharisees and enemies. A good number of them are fine and honest friends.
[79] [In the margin and crosswise]
I think I will send in this envelope, through the French consul in Sydney, three newspaper cuttings, etc.
J- B Petit-Jean, Marist priest, missionary apostolic.


  1. Cf Doc 176 [207]
  2. Cf Doc 176 [2] f/n 1, Doc 177 [1]
  3. William Hobson lieutenant-governor since 30 January 1840, became Governor of New Zealand in 1841 (Cf Encyclopaedia of New Zealand vol 1, p 867, vol 2 p 91)
  4. Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales from 1831 to 1837, so when Bishop Polding arrived in Sydney in 1835, is seen as responsible for the Act in view of encouraging the building of churches and chapels and providing for the support of ministers of religion in NSW, which was accepted by the Colonial Council on 29 July 1836. By this law, the government recognised Catholics as equal to the other churches, and, at least in principle, broke the link between the State and the Anglican Church as the established church (Cf O’Donoghue: p66 & 67 Australian Dictionary of Biography vol 1, p 128-133). Petit-Jean describes its provisions below (Cf [43-48]
  5. Cf Ps 68 (69): 30: “And I, humiliated and suffering, your salvation, God, will put me beyond harm.”
  6. Amboina – an island in the Moluccas, residence of the Governor-general of the Moluccas, controlled by the Dutch (Cf Rienzi vol 1 p 205-06). None of the Fiji islands has a similar name.
  7. presumably meaning the first part of major seminary studies - translator’s note
  8. official recognition of being a cleric - translator’s note
  9. Francis Murphy, Vicar-General of Sydney at the time (Cf Doc 176 [2] f/n 1). Thomas Paulinus Heptonstall, a Benedictine monk of Downside Abbey in England, first cousin of Bishop Polding of Sydney (O’Donoghue p1, 4, 49). Some letters which Poupinel (Cf CS, Doc 73, 30 May 1829; Doc 80, 29 June 1839; Doc 73 144, 6 March 1840 and Doc 178, 20 June 1840) and Colin (Cf CS, Doc 153, 22 April 1840) addressed to him and mentions in other letters (Cf CS Doc 82 [7, 12, 18, 24] 20 July 1839; Doc 89 [3, 9] 21 September 1839; Doc 97 [13] 9 November 1839) also, in this present work (Doc 59 [2]), inform us that he was responsible for sending letters between the general administration in Lyons and the Marist missionaries in Oceania, and evidence of this is found beside the address of three letters (Doc 216, 219, 222). In a letter dated 19 September 1844 (Cf CS under this date) Colin calls him “our correspondent in London… a venerable Benedictine religious already fairly old”. Through other letters it is known that he was “official procurator for the Bishop of Maronea” (Cf CS 4 November 1846), “since 1843” (Cf CS 20 November 1846). Cf also CS 15 July 1845, 26 December 1845, 25 March 1846, 2 April 1846, 23 December 1846).
  10. John Brady (Cf Doc 176 [17] f/n 11)
  11. At Maynooth, about 20 km from Dublin, St Patrick’s College, the Irish National Seminary, was funded by the British government at the time (See Kerr p 224-230)
  12. Reunion Island (the official name since 1793) now a French overseas department in the India Ocean to the east of Africa.
  13. William Place Morris was appointed Vicar-Apostolic of Mauritius island, of the Cape of Good Hope, of Madagascar, of Australia, and the islands of Oceania in August 1831; he made the Benedictine priest William Bernard Ullathorne his Vicar-General for Australia and the latter arrived in 1833; in May 1834 the Pope erected Australia and Tasmania into a vicariate, to which he appointed Polding as Vicar-Apostolic; in June 1837 Patrick Raymond Griffith OP was appointed to the new vicariate of the Cape of Good Hope; finally in February 1840 Morris was replaced on Mauritius by William Bernard Collier OSB (Notizie 1840, p146-7; O’Donoghue p19-21, 33; Wiltgen p189-94). So Morris was the former Vicar-Apostolic of Mauritius of whom the present author speaks some lines further down.
  14. When he established State orphanages, Lachlan Macquarie, governor of New South Wales 1810-21, decreed that all the children be taught in the faith and doctrine of the Anglican Church. Reverend John Joseph Therry, a Catholic priest who came to Sydney in May 1820, found himself banned from entering these establishments to teach the Catholic orphans, and protested, but in vain. The Anglican archdeacon Thomas Hobbes Scott in Sydney from May 1825, consolidated the effort to make the Anglican Church the colony’s established Church. In the schools subsidised by the government (including the orphanages) religious instruction was exclusively Anglican, and even if the Catholic parents could refuse to send their children to those schools, the Catholic orphans had no choice. Therry denounced the proselytism of the rules which, he said, forced or resulted in Catholic children abandoning the faith of their ancestors. In an article published in 14 June 1825 he proposed a Catholic Education Society to ensure a Catholic system of teaching, the Protestant reply came soon; at the request of Archdeacon Scott, Therry was deprived of his status as official Catholic chaplain and his annual salary of £100 was stopped. The governor, Sir Ralph Darling, expressed his dislike of the priest whom he called rather indiscreet and perhaps dangerous. It was only after the promulgation of the Catholic Emancipation Act (giving civil liberties to Catholics) in London in 1829, the adoption of that law in New South Wales in January 1830 and the arrival of the new governor, Sir Richard Bourke, clearly more tolerant than his predecessor Darling, that the impasse could be cleared. The Clergy and Estates Corporation (which had assured the Anglican monopoly in things concerning religious instruction) was dissolved in 1833, Bishop Polding, the first Catholic bishop of Sydney, arrived in 1835, and the Church Act of Governor Bourke finally ensured the liberty asked for, for so long, and allowed Catholic orphanages to exist. Therry was finally reinstated in 1837 (Cf O’Brien p31, 35, 70-96, 163, 166-8, 180-184; Cf O’Farrell p22-4)
  15. for himself – seems implied - translator’s note
  16. The feastday of St Vincent de Paul being September 27th, in 1842 the following Sunday was October 2nd.
  17. This “pious association” is not the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of today. That was formed in Ireland in 1898 by Father James Cullen SJ.
  18. James Browne, Bishop of Kilmore in Ireland (1829-65; established his episcopal seat in the town of Cavan (Brady came from County Cavan), in 1839, he founded a seminary to provide education for candidates for the priesthood (Dictionnaire d’histoire et de géographie ecclesiastiques vol 10, col 871-872). Cf the letter which Brady sent him 10 August 1842 (Doc 187).
  19. Patrick Geoghegan, an Irish Franciscan, arrived in Melbourne (Port Philip) in 1839. He carried out his ministry in primitive and difficult conditions, not being able to erect a temporary church until 1842. In 1858 he was appointed Bishop of Adelaide, succeeding Bishop Murphy. He died in 1864. (Cf O’Farrell, p54, 61, 84-86; O’Donoghue p117, 133, 135-6)
  20. The first and third works are by Mathieu-Richard-Auguste Henrion (1805 -1862), a magistrate : “l’Histoire generale de l’Eglise” (1835 – 36 12 Volumes) and l’Histoire de la Papaute” (1832, 3 volumes) (cf Dictionnaire de biographie francaise, t. 17, col 964 -65). The “biographie” mentioned in the second place is certainly the work of Francois-Xavier de Feller (cf Doc 147 [15]n.3); the « Dictionnaire historique ou histoire abregée de tous les hommes qui se sont fait un nom par le genie, les talents, les vertus, les erreurs etc depuis le commencement du monde jusqu'à nos jours, published first at Augsburg from 1781, then in 1833 a new edition appeared under the title of « Biographie universelle ou dictionnaire historique des hommes qui se sont fait un nom par leur genie, leurs talents, leurs vertus, leurs erreurs et leurs crimes followed by other editions in 1841 (this one in 12 vols), in 1845, and several times later (cf Bibliographie de la Compagnie de Jesus t. 3, p 616- 618)
  21. Concerning the letters mentioned, see the note added in the margin of page 1 [1]. On Louis Perret, a layman and architect in the service of the New Zealand mission from September 1841 till May 1842, see above:[5] and 42, also Doc 178[42], f/n 3
  22. Felix Perret, a deacon (or subdeacon?), a brother of Louis Perret “the architect”. A Felix Perret was ordained a subdeacon at Lyons on 24July 1825, but the ordination registers between 1820 and 1839 record no other Felix Perret receiving tonsure, minor orders or diaconate; the register of the major seminary at Lyons (St Irenée) records no Felix Perret between 1816 and 1839. Various mentions of him in Colin’s letters and other sources are listed in the rest of this long footnote, which I am not translating (B Quin).
  23. In that preceding letter, Petit-Jean favoured “a procure house in Sydney”, adding “although New Zealand might be a central communication point for our missions” without otherwise advantaging the Bay of Islands. (cf Doc 176, [12].)
  24. William Hobson (1792 – 1842) was, in 1839, appointed British consul in New Zealand and lieutenant-governor. Coming from England with his family, he spent three weeks with George Gipps, governor of New South Wales, and his superior at the time. Having arrived at the Bay of Islands on the 30th January 1840, he proclaimed the next day that he was the lieutenant-governor of the British settlements that were being set up. On the 6th February, at Waitangi, he presented a treaty which received the signatures of more than 40 Maori chiefs who in this new way recognised British authority. On 21st May of the same year, Hobson proclaimed British authority over the whole of New Zealand. In November, New Zealand was made a Crown colony, separated from New South Wales, and Hobson began his role as governor on 3rd May 1841. (Dictionary of NZ Biography, vol 1, p 197).
  25. Frederick Edward Maning (1811/12 – 1883), an Irish Protestant, a trader who settled in the Hokianga. He spoke against the Treaty of Waitangi when Hobson presented it in the Hokianga in February 1840. He was then attacked by Hobson as a Catholic, “an agent of the Bishop”, which was not true, and as an “adventurer”, which was at least plausible. In 1841 Hobson refused his request for a government position because he had heard rumours that Maning had encouraged among the Maoris of Kaipara attitudes against the Government and in favour of the French, (Dictionary of NZ Biography, vol 1, p 265)
  26. On the presence of Pompallier at the gathering of chiefs on the 5th February 1840 and at the actual signing on the following day, in response to Hobson’s “appeals”, see Doc. 52 [14–16].
  27. Cf John 21: 15 -17: After the meal Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do? “. He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs”.... etc.
  28. Cf Luke 23:34. Jesus said: Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.
  29. Cf Acts 5: 41 The Apostles then left the Sanhedrin, happy to have been found worthy to suffer for the Name.
  30. Cf Ps 54 (55): 14 – 15 But it is you, a man of my own rank, my intimate friend. We shared our most intimate thoughts.
  31. Cf Ps 136 (137): 5-6. Jerusalem, if I forget you, may my right hand wither. May I never speak again if I forget you!
  32. Read as “Cooper in Sydney”, or “Cooper who is in Sydney”
  33. Francis Murphy, vicar-general of Sydney until his appointment to the see of Adelaide in 1843 (Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 2, p 270.
  34. William Grant Broughton (1788 – 1853), Anglican bishop of Australia from 1836 (cf. Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 1, p 158 – 164).