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11 Jun 1845 Letter of Fr Jérôme Grange to Fr Jean-Claude Colin

Translated by Peter McConnell, May 2010

Feast of Saint Barnabas , Tongatapu 1845

Very reverend Father,
It has almost been decided that I should leave on board The Rhine, but after celebrating Holy Mass I am taking the decision to stay longer because although not well, I think that my being away would be prejudicial for the mission. Father Calinon does not know the language yet to make himself understood nor to understand and also it is good that the Bishop be alerted. Besides a very old soutane that I brought from France - does not allow me to appear properly on board a war vessel. I will therefore wait for a while and, if I pass away while waiting, heaven is as near to Tonga as it is to France.
Had I had only physical pains I would never had made such a request, but moral pains have pushed me to it. It is four years that I left France, and when I arrived at the Bay of Islands part of my trousseau, that I was given in Lyons, was taken from me, and since that time I have received nothing, not even a needle. Yet since then you know very well that the mission has received money. They give me nothing and even forbid me getting myself what is necessary. I have been told that I should not buy anything because as Bishop of Oenos[1] says, he does not want the natives any more than the missionaries to become accustomed to being merchants. It is the first time that I have heard that buying the necessities of life is being a merchant. The natives, like those of the Wallis Islands, can feed us well and for nothing. Firstly, they can do that but it is not a complete certainty; and also there is a difference in being able to and wanting to. The Wallis Islanders supply food for nothing—They do it for nothing, but they give them more than what would be required living in a good hotel in Paris. It is possible that I may be mistaken, but it seems that the Marist Society is being mocked. You are sending us a superior. The two bishops make themselves independent of each other. They take what Marist members they want without consulting the superior who is here. Bishop Oenos even puts this superior where he chooses without asking his consent and doesn’t give him a cent to carry out his job or to live on. The two bishops share the resources and then the others stay in poverty. --- I had certainly never thought that such would be the case. The Marist mission certainly does not function in this way anywhere else. All these matters and plenty of others have sapped my energy. I have much respect for those who can tolerate these difficulties but you know but you know what moral strength is and what physical strength is. All men are not equal. There is a chance that I can still be useful for the Society but I do not think I am of any use for the mission such as it operates here.
I am absolutely keen to do nothing without your consent. Yet, I will always guess your approval when I will be able to leave without harming the mission in the case where I would receive your orders.—When Bishop Oenos came to see us, I wanted to make a few remarks to him. He took them quite badly and I would not be surprised if he were to tell you something about me. However, I beg you to believe that I have suffered resignedly and in particular I have worked courageously at the mission when I have been able to. –
With the most profound respect, I am, very reverend Father, your very humble and very obedient servant,
Grange, apostolic missionary.


  1. Bishop of Enos (or Oenos) = Bishop Pierre-Marie Bataillon, vicar apostolic of Central Oceania