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January 1844 – Father Euloge-Marie Reignier to Father Victor Poupinel, with a note added by Father Jean Forest, Rotorua

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, May 2007

January 1844


Very Reverend Father
You accuse me of not writing letters to Europe; what can I say in reply? Instead of being on the defensive, I am going on attack. For two years and some months -- complete silence from Europe. No letters, they remained buried in your office. If I had received them, I would have replied to some; what better can we do than to mutually forgive each other; it seems that some of my letters had not yet got to you at the time you were sending me your friendly reproaches.[1]
I must say you have paid me a dirty trick by taking from me, without exception, all the things sent to my address from Brittany, I didn't notice having received the least share of these things in the distribution made of them. Because of the charity which must bind us together as brothers, I bear no resentment towards those who have benefited from the situation. As for Madame de la Riboisière’s box, you did well not to send it to me directly; no one said a word about it in the letters I received. I would have wished it had been otherwise with the box sent by my parents to my address: another destination vexes them. What they have sent me has been mixed up with the gifts from other people, I do not know how to speak to them about those items. I foresee that the spring will be soon dirtied because of the system of general mixup of all the items.
You are keeping back for me a fine package of pictures; in fact, I will admit to you, Reverend Father, that that is not the matter of most concern to him who has more debts than credits, and who has continuously to struggle against the endless demands of the New Zealanders.
When Bishop Bataillon found himself responsible only for Wallis, he was quickly sent a number of consignments. Having the same needs, the same population and a quite differing extent of country, 50 or 60 leagues [250 to 300 km], I would have the right to the same alms. I have just completed a journey of more than 100 leagues [500 km]: mountains, swamps, rivers, lakes etc. All sorts of pleasures are to be found; I will not amuse myself by describing to you all the wretchedness of food, about sleeping, about trials, about the pious practices we give our beloved children.
One of the things that gives us the greatest difficulties and hindrances in doing good, is the poverty of our material resources. The islands of the tropics attract affection out of interest and partiality, but, according to what I am told about them, there is almost no travelling to be done there. That is precisely what overwhelms me here; I am always travelling -- finally the body breaks down. I am getting ready to leave, with Father Pézant for a pa in my mission territory where I must grant the grace of holy baptism to 36 adults and several children. Perhaps you want from me some details on New Zealand. I am giving some of them in the letter I am writing to Father Feret (a fine Norman), director of the major seminary at Nantes. Be so kind as to read it, if you wish. I am perhaps gloomy in my letter: please forgive me. I love you, however, very much; I have the greatest esteem and the most lively gratitude for your zeal, and your tireless activity in interesting the faithful in our works.
Pray for a very poor missionary, Reignier, missionary priest.

[In the margin and written across]
Reverend Father Pézant begs you to send him two pairs of spectacles, framed in silver, periscopic lenses No. 10 or No. 9 -- and I for my part beg you not to forget me in the presence of the Good Mother at Fourvière. Alas, we no longer have anything here which prompts us to piety. But we see almost everywhere nothing but cold indifference and heresy which confronts us everywhere and does great harm to us. Pray, please, and get others to pray. I hope at some time in the future to be able to answer the letters which had come to me from France. Forest.


  1. No letter from Reignier to Poupinel before this one is to be found at APM, where his only earlier letters addressed to Europe are those of 1 June 1842 to Father Colin – Doc 164, and of 23 December 1843 to Father Feret, director of the seminary at Nantes – Doc 287 – C Girard footnote