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3 February 1844 — Father Jean Forest to Father Jean-Baptiste Épalle, Bay of Islands

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, June 2007

From St Peter and St Paul, Bay of Islands
3 February 1844
To the Reverend Father Epalle, pro-vicar apostolic of the Western Oceania mission

Reverend and dear Father
His Lordship Bishop Pompallier, having arrived just now from a pastoral visit to the station at Whangaroa and being forced to set out again without delay to fulfil a promise given to the people at Kaipara, does not have the time right now to reply to all the letters which had come for him from France through your care and that of Reverend Father Lagniet in London, but he has made me responsible for telling you straight away what is very important for you to know, to wit:
1) Make sure of telling Father Superior General that the Bishop is very grateful for the letter he has written to him, that he regrets very much not being able to satisfy right now the desire of his heart to answer him in the way he would entirely want, but he hopes that very soon the good God will allow him to do so.
2) Do not send women religious here. The time has not yet come when they could do good without great and very great difficulties, whether caused by our adversaries the missionaries, or by a British government which is easily offended.
3) Do not bring groups of workers here but only Brothers as in the past, and as many as you can. The Brothers, especially Brothers who are truly religious and driven by a good spirit, do the greatest services for us. We need a lot more of them than we have.
4) If the plan that the Bishop pointed out to the Propagation of the Faith in his letter dated 6th November 1842 cannot be carried out, banknotes must not be sent any more to Port Nicholson but to Sydney and only to the Bank of Australasia. Links between the Bay of Islands and Port Nicholson are rare, and they are very frequent between Sydney and the Bay of Islands. Sydney is the only place where you can easily buy in reasonable quantity and at a good price, provisions for the mission. The money being in a safe bank in Sydney, you can, through the mediation of a well chosen agent, bring all you need without risking the money on the seas.
5) The special additional help of 80,000 francs and the 20,000 francs [£4000 altogether] from the Propagation [of the Faith] which you sent us arrived at the bank at [Port] Nicholson some time ago, and the letters informing us of this assistance got to the Bishop here at the Bay of Islands on the 6th November 1843. So three months have gone past since the arrival of these letters, and we have not yet been able to draw on that sum, because of lack of communication with Nicholson. Father Baty has just left for Sydney in order to withdraw these funds from the bank at Nicholson and to put them in doubt of Australasia in Sydney, a bank, it is said, which is very safe and almost infallible, but it is very likely that before all these activities are complete at least another three months will have elapsed. There, dear confrère and Reverend Father, is what I was asked by the Bishop to inform you of as soon as possible.
Please offer my respects to our venerable Superior and to all our dear confrères.
Truly I have the honour to be your very humble and devoted servant,