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Antoine Garin to Jean-Claude Colin, Kaipara, 25 April & 2 June 1844

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, September 2005

APM Z 208 25 April 1844 Kaipara, Hato Rohario [Holy Rosary]

25 April, Feast of St Mark 1844

Very Reverend Father, and very worthy Superior General,

Perhaps you already know that seven or eight months ago I left Kororareka to carry on the sacred ministry at the Kaipara mission station. If I looked to my own liking, certainly I would prefer this station to the first, but in considering it in terms of the spiritual good of my soul, I can see, without any help, that the first position was preferable. At Kororareka, indeed, I could profit from the example of my confrères, and advance more easily in virtue by following in their steps, but here I have no other model but myself, and in deciding what I can do with such a model, I need to be warned, stimulated, and I am quite alone in being my own monitor and examiner, but thanks be given to Divine Providence, I am aware that the good God gives his graces in accord with our needs. I recall that once I wrote to you from Kororareka that I was experiencing strong feelings at the sight of the nakedness of the natives, and that, as in France, I was subject to strong temptations; but since I have been thrown among the natives, and have been called to live with them, I find myself entirely changed: where I was formerly impressionable I am now toughened; what formerly aroused concupiscence in me, on catching my eye, now [repagne – repels?] me, I find it distasteful; to sleep in Maori villages [Kainga Maoris] in a jumble with the natives was for me an occasion for evil fancies, now even women are for me like logs of wood; which makes me believe that Providence is watching over me, and is proportioning its favours according to my needs. However I am not entirely complacent; often after a peat fire, when the fire was thought to be entirely put out, blazing flames have reignited and produced a new fire.

The isolation I find myself in, and the variety of my work bring about a great slackening in various points of my Rule. Apart from that I am very happy with my new position. I like this sort of life very much; visiting the natives, sleeping among them, putting my house into order – those are my main occupations. Although I have no Brothers [with me] (I would like one very much) I am very happy and content with two young natives who obey me and love me. I also have a European man, and if it was not out of necessity, I would prefer not to have him, even if he was a man of faith and worthy of trust. [p2] 2 June 1844. Since I began this letter several weeks have gone by. In the meantime I have been told that you intend to write to everyone individually [vous devrez nous écrire à tous en particulier]. I cannot bless Providence enough for providing us with so many means for salvation. I admit that I really need them; often I become anxious in seeing myself getting slack, and when I hear that our beloved confrères in France and you especially, Very Reverend Father, are concerning yourselves with the salvation of each person individually, I gain new heart. Yes, write to us and give us salutary advice to help us carry out our tasks as good religious and holy missionaries.

Commend me, I beg you, in particular, to the Reverend Fathers and beloved Brothers of the Society, so that the Blessed Virgin may keep me in the religious spirit, so that I do not fall into laxity, and especially that I do not fall into mortal sin. May those who pray for me not forget to pray as well for the flock entrusted to me.

Receive, Very Reverend Father, the signs of the sincere affection and respect with which I have the honour to be

Your totally devoted and very obedient servant
Garin miss[ionary] ap[ostolic]