Fr Garin to Fr Colin, Kororareka, 15 Feb 1843
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, June 2005
APM Z208 14? 15? February 1843
Garin had become the first “provincial” of the Marists in NZ in 1842, and is writing basically to update Colin on the situation in New Zealand. He begins by mentioning Father Comte’s failed attempt to get sent to the tropics (from Akaroa) – he had left there without proper permission, and had been sent to Opotiki instead. Brother Florentin, also in Akaroa, had gone eight months without confessing or communicating, had developed some original ideas about his obligations as a vowed religious, used for his own purposes money belonging to the mission, and so on, gaining a bad reputation in Akaroa. On his return to the Bay of Islands (he had left without permission because, he claimed, he had difficulties with Father Tripe) he was interrogated by the Bishop, Father Garin, and Father Baty; the upshot being that he was allowed to stay in NZ on probation as it were. Father Tripe, who was not a Marist, but a diocesan priest wanting to try his vocation as a missionary, was allowed to go back to France, as he wished.
Quite likely as an echo of Brother Claude-Marie’s complaints about his and other Brothers’ treatment by priests, Garin is of the view that some Fathers do not take enough care of their Brothers, and points out some of the difficulties the Brothers have.
Garin renews his request to be relieved of his position as provincial, saying that Father Forest is well up to the role.. He ends with a brief summary of his spiritual problems and weaknesses, but states that in spite of everything he is still happy in his situation.
- AMDG et DGH
- 15 February 1843
- To Reverend Father Superior General
- Very Reverend Father
- I am beginning my letter without knowing whether I can write at length, because it is two o’clock in the morning and the ship must leave in the morning, however I am going to try to keep myself awake to inform you of what has happened recently, although no doubt you already have some news of it.
- Father Comte left Akaroa pretty well eight to ten months ago, hoping to be able to be sent with the Bishop’s schooner to the islands in the tropics; in doing that, he acted a bit too much of his own accord, although, however, he had a certain semblance of permission, but the Bishop understood that if he came away, he had to come with Father Tripe so as not to leave him alone. But this Father was disappointed in his attempt; he arrived eight days too late and was sent to Opotiki where he is now. One of his main motives was to distance himself from the Bishop, because he is afraid of his presence, no doubt because he is too touchy and he does not know well enough how to yield to the will of his Superiors.
- Brother Florentin, finding himself alone with Father Tripe, believed he had a reason for no longer approaching the sacraments, as evidenced by his remaining eight months since Father Comte’s departure without going to confession and communion. He has formally disobeyed Father Tripe in some circumstances, saying: “No, I will never do that…” He believed himself sufficiently authorised to leave Father Tripe, or perhaps (because I do not remember right now if it is so) Father Tripe sent him back because he was not able to do anything with him. After his departure several accusations hung over his head. He had, it was said, used words so freely that he was told he was no longer a Brother… bought a little barrel of brandy… several times dined away from the house without the Father knowing – taken from a settler a book entitled Married Love – spent nights gambling – he was happy gambling – he had some money, had offered to lend a good sum: it was the secret income from the hens, the garden etc... He had said that Father Tripe told the commandant of the ship Allier the colonists’ confessions, that it was for this reason that he no longer went to confession. All of those things were so many rumours which got around. Father Tripe several times laid accusations against him which seem to have a basis in fact. The Brother admitted having lied once. Finally he appeared in the view of the colonists and the men on the naval vessel as a religious quite reprehensible, a liar and impostor. Having got to Kororareka, I made him submit, and the Bishop for his part as well, to several interrogations, the last one especially in the presence of Father Tripe; but, either this Brother is wily in malice or he is innocent almost of everything; whatever be the case, the Bishop, Father Baty and I, we were not able to get anything out of him; so I asked him today if he thought his salvation was in danger here, if he wanted to go back to France on this warship; to that he gave me a reply which led me to see that he did not want to return to France and that here at Kororareka he was away from dangerous occasion (of sin); he admitted to me having done wrong things but attributed them to his antipathy to the Father. From another point of view, as we have few Brothers, if he goes with the Bishop on his journeys and still stays with the Fathers at the Bay of Islands, I thought that being able to keep an eye on him at close hand we will be able to see how he really is, and we would send him back to you on the next departure of another warship, because on one of those we don’t pay a fare. 
- Father Tripe, for his part, gave us real cause for concern over his spiritual welfare. He came back from Akaroa with the firm intention of continuing his journey on to France to rejoin you. He said he would always be unhappy with the Bishop. The Bishop, seeing him from the beginning a little attached to his own ideas and having a domineering attitude over others, wanted to make him undergo severe trials which Father Tripe did not receive in a religious spirit. It is true that the Bishop is sometimes overwhelming in his criticisms, and if one has no patience under trial and a lot of humility, one risks an outbreak of complaint. So Father Tripe, having arrived here, asked permission to go back to France. The Bishop gave him all sorts of good advice, strongly urging him to stay, that his position would not be as difficult; after having consulted Father Baty and me about this he at first agreed to stay, then afterward he changed his mind and began to pack his trunks, telling the Bishop he was leaving. The Bishop, not seeing his motives as sufficient, told me that Father Tripe was a runaway and that he would always look on his as one; then I made some remarks about this word runaway, and it was agreed that Father Tripe would write to the Bishop a formal letter to ask permission to leave, and that he himself would reply. Which was done [and a note in the margin by Garin: The Bishop’s letter was nonetheless quite charitable], and the upshot was that Father Tripe would have been seen as a runaway if he had decided to leave, so he stayed. Pray a lot, and get others to pray, Reverend Father. My thinking is that Father Tripe is getting alarmed too much beforehand. I hope that he will see that he is better off than he thinks; he is getting used to the Bishop’s ways; I can see it myself.
- The Bishop criticises the Fathers in general for not reading over again enough his notes and instructions, and for not carrying out his orders. For example, recently he sent Brother Augustin to Wallis to replace Brother Joseph who had developed a serious illness. He had pointed out the itinerary to the latter: he was to go with the Bishop’s schooner to Valparaiso to get it sold there and to return afterwards to the Bay of Islands; well! the Fathers on Wallis kept him with Brother Augustin.
- The Fathers in general or rather some Fathers do not take enough care for their Brothers; they are too demanding of them and discourage them too easily. A Brother who is treated in this way by a Father is in a most difficult position; he has no one he can talk to easily, because he fears the Father; he has perhaps lost his respect. He has a sort of work that is hard, tiring and totally physical [matériel], he can only with difficulty fulfil some exercises demanded by the Rule to renew himself in zeal and the love of God; apart from that he has no other consolations; So urgent advice should be given to the Fathers on this matter.
- I am still impatiently waiting for you to discharge me please from the role of provincial. I have already asked you for that in all my preceding letters. Father Forest is intended for this task and no one will fulfil it better than he. He is already in communication with the members of the Society, which relieves me a bit. The Bishop is pleased to see that Father Forest has this role. I am still, for the time being, in charge of the Procure, which keeps me fairly busy; I exercise the ministry a little among the English and the natives.
- My interior life is often affected by the multiplicity of my tasks. I do not attach a lot of importance to the faithfulness I ought to have in fulfilling my duties laid down by the Rule. My meditation is made when I am still quite drowsy. Seeing dangerous things arouses in me a continuous warfare. Self love makes me too sensitive to the criticisms I receive from my Superiors and I am always ready to excuse myself, even disguising the truth; I too easily make use of that recommendation you made us in a letter, of never going to bed without having said at least some decades of the Rosary, and (I do?) that for lack of foreseeing that in the evening it will be too late. For the rest, I fairly easily put up with the little difficulties, and I still find that I am very happy in my position. I bless the Lord for the share He has given me in his inheritance. 
- Please recommend me specially to the prayers of all the dear Society, as well as all the members of the mission.
- I have the honour to be, with deepest respect,
- Your very humble and very obedient servant
- Garin Prov[incial]
- Miss[ionary] ap[ostolic]
- PS You will also receive a big parcel of letters contained in one of the boxes of the dispatch.
- Brother Florentin – Jean-Baptiste Françon – never went back to France. He went with Father Reignier and Brother Basile to Hawkes Bay in 1851, and in 1868 to Villa Maria community in Sydney, and died there in 1903 - translator’s note.
- cf Numbers 18:20 and Ps 16:5 - translator’s note.
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