From Marist Studies
5 September 1842 — Father Antoine Garin to Father Victor Poupinel, Kororareka
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, August 2015
- To Father Poupinel, 4 St Barthelémy Rise, Lyons, France.
- Kororareka, 5 September, 1842
- Very Reverend Father,
- I haven’t much to tell you, because the Bishop has told you, I think, all that could interest you, as far as circumstances allow him,; I remember that before Father Épalle’s departure, we were discussing the expenses incurred by the mission ship. And I think that they went up to 100 francs a day, in other words, to about 35,000 francs a year; if I have shared in some way in confirming this mistake, (I cannot remember), today I retract from it, because the Bishop, having heard that being said, called Captain Michel into my presence and asked him immediately what the ship could cost to run each day; after having got out his accounts, he found that it was roughly half of that, so that he thought that per year it could cost 18 to 19 thousand francs. The Bishop and the captain looked for what could have given rise to such a mistake, and an invoice was found that had been given to Father Viard, that contained the total of expenses incurred in four months. It seems that the estimate for the whole year was based on these four months, and the total was put at the end without any awareness that most of these expenses made during four months were made for two years, for example, the purchase of canvas for the sails, new sails normally being used for two years. So the calculation should not have been made on the basis of those four months, but rather according to what the ship had cost since it had been bought, up till now. Now according to that calculation made yesterday, it cost 750 pounds a year, that is to say, 19 thousand francs. Going by this glimpse, it will be easy to judge what some Fathers could have written to you, sometimes according to hearsay.
- Besides, I know that people have been able to exaggerate in talking about this, as Father Épalle will tell you.
- Someone is waiting for me, to take my letter to the post. Farewell, very Reverend Father. The Bishop tells me that Father Bataillon has become a bit melancholic, that he has been a bit severe in administering the sacraments, because he hadn’t had much experience in the ministry before coming; that Father Chevron is doing well, that he is very exact in observing his rule, that Brother Joseph doesn’t have at all a religious attitude, but that he is, anyway, full of zeal in serving the Fathers and in everything which can further the good of the mission. The Bishop finds that the Fathers in the tropical islands do not possess enough the spirit of poverty. In another letter I will speak to you at greater length about this, when I will carefully explain everything. Father Petit sometimes gets discouraged, he would like to go back to France. Scruples are partly a reason.
- The Bishop has asked me to point out to you that you have interpreted a sentence in his letters in a way that he did not intend. He told you that he had released himself from as many responsibilities as he had, and from the delegation which had been given him, in relation to the members of the Society, because of the difficulty of combining this responsibility with episcopal responsibility, but that he was very far from saying that he was distancing himself from what remained in him of the Society; he asks you to believe that that was never in his thoughts.
- Several of the Fathers have made vows before having done a year of novitiate, and see themselves as bound to the Society. Personally, I believe that these vows are not sufficient, and must be renewed when the time of novitiate has been completed. I propose to talk about it to all the Fathers, but I would be very happy as well if you were so kind as to name for me the Fathers and Brothers who are in order.
- I have heard it said as well that the Bishop’s power to appoint a provincial was contested by some - this by its nature is enough to worry me, but the Bishop has shown me the letters in which you told him to appoint a provincial. The Bishop told me as well that it wasn’t up to him, but to you to change the provincial. So please do not forget what I told you about this in a preceding letter. I think that Father Forest is more capable than any other man to occupy this position. Recently the Bishop received Father Chevron’s vows; I thought he had this power, but I am not sure. Please enlighten me.
- Your totally devoted, respectful and obedient servant, Garin, provincial.
- Please pray for me, I really need it. And ask people to pray for me.
-  [In the margin and crosswise]
- Father Baty left only a few hours ago to go and bring peace to some tribes who want to make war against each other in a bay that neighbours the Bay of islands. The natives had been making cartridges for a long time. I went there about a fortnight ago, believing they were already fighting, but they were only making their preparations. We are waiting!
- Garin had written to Colin on 7 May 1842: I was pleased to see that you intended to appoint Father Forest as provincial here (doc 149 ).