Father Jean-André Tripe to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Kororareka, 5 October 1843
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, July 2005
APM Z 208 5 October 1843
Begins by apologising for the negative tone of his letters. Writes to tell that he will be going back to France at first opportunity – subject to arrival of a ship to take him, and money for his fare being available. Has consulted and prayed over this decision a great deal.
Fewer ships are coming to the Bay, now that Auckland the capital. Summarises reasons for his decision – does not go into detail because he has given them before.
Is concerned for his mother and sister – money owed them is not being paid back – asks Colin to look out for them if the return voyage does not have a happy outcome.
Text of the Letter
- Kororareka, 5 October 1843
- Very dear and Reverend Father Superior
- It seems that I came to the missions only to give you occasions for suffering: almost all my letters have been of a sort that would sadden you, and this one will no doubt affect you even more appreciably, its purpose being to inform you of my imminent departure for France. When the Allier left, I had resolved to leave the missions, and if I stayed, it was only because of the urgent solicitations of the Bishop, who aroused in me fears for my salvation if I left. Since that time I again gave myself to serious reflection; I prayed, celebrated, consulted, to find out whether carrying out my plan would be against God’s will: Fathers Baty, Vicar General; Garin, Provincial and at the same time my spiritual director; Forest, Visitor, were of the opinion, as had been formerly Father Viard, also Vicar General, that I could in safe conscience return to France. The Bishop told me through Father Garin that I would leave at the first opportunity and as soon as the mission would be able to pay for my passage, which would be, as far as funds went, on the arrival of Le Rhin, expected daily; but as for opportunities, they are becoming still fewer, our Bay being visited almost only by coastal ships. It doesn’t seem appropriate to me to detail for you the reasons for my decision, most of which are already known to you; I will limit myself to saying that my health is suffering from the sedentary life which I lead and would lead at the Bay of Islands, the position which would be assigned me; that the cold spells from time to time bring me bodily illnesses which I can hardly prevent because of the lack of a fireplace in the house; that the journeys to the tribal districts where mountains, rivers and swamps have to be crossed, are not matched by my strength which weakens more and more, and that as well I find myself little fitted [p2] for carrying out the sacred ministry and instructing the natives, knowing little of their language as a result of my staying in a French colony, while I can still serve the Church in my country of birth. I am putting an end to my reasons at that point, keeping myself for going into fuller details if the Blessed Virgin, who has protected me up till now, deigns again to direct my steps to Lyons.
- My letter has a secondary aim of informing you of the position of my mother and my sister, and asking you to come to their help: this is a duty in conscience which I must fulfil in their regard in view especially of the uncertainty of a successful voyage. Their annual income does not exceed 300 francs, deriving from a loan to a person whose business affairs are not well organised and who is not exact in his payments, according to what I have been told, nevertheless I have always thought the money safely invested. My mother has been deprived of her sight for seven to eight years and is almost a nonagenarian, and my sister, aged over 50, has no profession. I was told of a letter containing details on their worldly affairs, in another which Father Bernard sent me on his arrival, but which is still in your hands. The upshot is that I think I have good grounds for believing my relatives are in need. During the stay I made in Lyons, I did not think of re-inquiring about their situation which I had discussed with you by letter, still being in a parish, because you had replied that other priests in the same circumstances as I had been able to follow their call to the missions. However, having reflected more seriously, I have realised that their income is in too great a disproportion to their situation. The Bishop, to whom I revealed my thoughts about this matter, shared my opinion and offered to encourage you to send them 300 francs annually if I stayed in the mission. I ask you and even entreat you to give consideration to my request and to suggest some ways of easing their situation, which must certainly be difficult. M[onsieur] Boyer,  rector of Collobrières (Var), my successor, is the man to whom you could turn either to get information on their situation, or to receive what you would send them. My mother is almost in [second?] childhood [ma mère est à peu près dans l’enfance], my sister is not a person who would ever make claims on you for the least thing, she would rather be determined to endure all sorts of privations, but if her imagination became too overworked, I do not know what the result would be. My conscience, for quite a long time [p3] has loudly called out and reproached me for not having done enough to provide for her who gave me life, after God, and for a sister who without me and my being a priest would certainly today be well set up in the world.
- Can you, please, remember me in your prayers at Mass, and commend a traveller to the prayers of the community?
- I am, with deepest respect,
- Very Reverend Father and Superior,
- Your very humble servant and son,
- Priest, missionary
- Mass, no doubt - translator’s note
- Akaroa - translator’s note
- Diocesan clergy were given the title Monsieur. Religious clergy were referred to as Père - translator’s note