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2 October 1842 — Jean Lampila (Seminarian) to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Bay of Islands, NZ

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, August 2015

To Fr Colin Superior, in Lyons
4 St Barthelémy Street, Department of Rhone

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

Very Reverend Superior,
Joyfully I am seizing such a fine chance to give you some news about myself; it’s the Bishop’s captain who must get this letter to you.[1] You will no doubt be surprised to find out that I have just been raised to the priesthood. The Bishop, only a short time after his arrival from the tropics, successively conferred on me all the sacred orders up to and including the diaconate, and I am about to receive the one which, being the complement of all of them, gives the divine power of bringing down the spotless lamb onto the altar. I am certain, Father Superior, that you will find a really striking contrast between the holy dispositions which the Church requires of those on whom she confers it, and the dispositions of him whom she has just clothed with it. I say this to you in all sincerity: if I hadn’t been driven by the real desire to completely devote myself for the glory of God and the salvation of the poor and unfortunate people entrusted to the mission, I would never have agreed to being responsible for the sacred tasks of a ministry at once so formidable and crucifying for all the comforts of body and spirit. But I have put my hope in the mercy of God and of Mary and relying on these two anchors, I will hold out, I have the gentle hope, against the enemies of my salvation; could you, very Reverend Superior, ask for me, from her who has placed you at the head of her attractive Society, that spirit of strength and resignation which is indispensable to the missionary, whose life is full of so many trials, because I am more and more convinced that ordinary virtues do not long resist the sufferings that disturb the soul, nor the many illnesses that crush the body. Without those dispositions, it seems to me that the good that one does for oneself and others is worth little, and anyway Xaviers and Clavers are needed here[2] to succeed among a people who are mainly heretics or indifferent. There you see one of the terrible results that the desperate heresy of Protestantism has gained through its lies and calumnies. So you see, very Reverend Father, how laborious is the mission entrusted to your children, and deserves your help. I believe that the real and lasting good that is being done by the care of your Fathers is in Wallis and Futuna. There, all of them, to the last person, are Catholic and fervent. The Bishop, in his visit there, has, I believe, confirmed everyone. For the rest, you will have fuller details from those who have seen things from closer at hand. Later on I will give you, very Reverend Superior, details which will concern myself, because I think I will be sent soon to some tribe. I am waiting for that moment, which I hasten with all my desires, as having to be my greatest consolation and the happiest of my life. In the meantime, I beg you to believe in all the affection that I bear you and all the Society of which you are the leader.
I am, with deepest respect, your most humble and obedient son in Jesus and Mary,
Jean Lampila

The Bay of Islands, 2 October, 1842
Father Superior, having asked you for spiritual needs, I am going to ask you for bodily needs. I took with me only the two soutanes that I had, and would they have only been new [et bien s’en faut qu’elles fussent neuves], that’s why I will need some when you can send me them. If your kindness would add to that a cloak of some sort, I would receive it with pleasure, because the New Zealand nights are very cold and you can’t sleep well in the open without being well covered. If the tailor in Lyons has lost my measurements, you could take the measurements from Father Decure, and enlarging the stomach measurement by 5 or 6 lines.[3] A bag like the Fathers here have is also very useful for journeys, because if you don’t have something fastened the Maoris will go through everything. You cannot find in New Zealand, Father Superior, any tricorne hats, and several Fathers need them. [-------------] the whole lot is excessively expensive. So a pair of pretty poor shoes costs 20 or 25 francs here.


  1. “The Bishop’s captain”, Louis Michel, is going to receive from Colin the payment of a debt contracted by Pompallier (cf doc 200 [3])
  2. Francois Xavier and Peter Claver were famous Jesuit missionaries; Xavier (canonised in 1622) carried out his apostolate in the sixteenth century, firstly in the Portuguese colonies in India, then elsewhere in that country, in the islands of the Indian Ocean, and even in Japan; Claver (beatified in 1851 and canonised in 1888) devoted himself in Colombia in the seventeenth century to catechising the negro slaves, baptising them and supporting their faith (cf Catholicisme, vol 4, col 1547 – 1550; vol 11 col 354)
  3. The Collins – Robert dictionary says that a ligne (Canadian) is about 3 mm – so 5 or 6 lignes would be about 16 to 20 mm

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