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28 June 1845 — Fr Isidore Grézel to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Wallis

Translated by Peter McConnell, June 2010

Reverend Father,
I am up to the neck in work; I have scarcely time to take a breath, yet I want to take the opportunity of answering your lovely letter dated May 9 1844 because the corvette Le Rhin has come to pay us a visit. What joy I experienced when I caught sight of your signature. It is impossible to explain that pleasure to you. That joy was even increased after reading your letter. I was not content with perusing it but I read it and reread it attentively. I still get much pleasure from it even when occupied with so many things.
I was expecting only criticisms or condemnations from you; the words and attitude of Bishop Pompallier towards me during our travelling here led me to believe that response. I made up my mind on that score without trouble and anxiety. I knew how to get by perfectly well. But I see how things are; you really care for me; you want me to be generous, fearless, an apostle. Well, so be it, Reverend Father, I have already put my hand to the task; and I can tell you without boasting that Bishop Bataillon must be happy with me or else he is not happy with anybody; nothing frightens me; I plug away as best I can night and day. God had done great things in me. I could pretty well claim it to be a miracle; oh how powerful his grace is! I am dumbfounded. A short time ago I thought and behaved as a young man, now everything had disappeared; my thoughts are more mature. Everything about me is consistent and stable.
My heart burns with the desire to enlighten people especially the youth. Soon I will have a huge field to clear; my job is a good one. A college is going to be built for ever in the Wallis Islands. It seems that that will be my job. So I will need twice as much energy and twice as much work. I will ask Jesus and Mary for that extra energy and I hope my prayers will be answered; besides, Reverend Father, I am indeed counting a little on your good prayers and on those of all the rest of the Marist Society. I have taken up the battle; I need strength; and I can do nothing by myself---
My situation is not really to be pitied. I like it and I wish fervently that my colleagues in Europe are coming to share it; I invite them and I urge them with my heart and affection. At the start of my sojourn here I was a little bored; I was somewhat left to my own resources. Mr Roudaire on noticing that behaved towards me with all the kindness and care of a good missionary ; his quite paternal instructions and advice contributed a great deal in effecting this change which I spoke to you about a while ago. He alone thought fit to look out for me and in no time at all he dispelled all those negative and annoying thoughts that were bothering me. He rescued me from innumerable worries which I now know where they came from. In a nutshell he made my stay here in a distant land bearable and enjoyable. He helped in making me a good and brave missionary for the future. I am very grateful to him for all the trouble he took for my sake. Here I am on a good footing; all I need to do now is to improve my wisdom and knowledge. As far as I am concerned I will never be ungrateful in his regard. I will pray to Jesus and Mary that they will always be with him and will keep him for us for a long time.
His advice for printing has been very useful for us. He has brought me up to speed on all matters. We have both printed several volumes for the Wallis Islands. One volume for Tonga is still being printed. We have four youngsters from the Wallis Islands working with us at printing. One deals with the composition; two deal with the ink; and the other one alternates with me at the printing press, which is working wonderfully. Send us a good printer to replace me and hands for the printing; then we will overthrow the Protestants; we will invade Central Oceania and Jesus Christ’s realm will sweep over this distant land.
Our four printers (young natives) have asked me to offer you their ofa (love and respect). They often speak to me about you; they want to see you so that you can bless them. They love you, but they are poor; that’s what they say. I am sending you the fruit of our labours; it’s a volume of devotional prayers in the Wallisian language. I am also sending some copies to Fathers Cholleton, Eymard and Morcel. I will end this letter so that I can go back to the printing press.
Reverend Father, receive the expression of my respect and absolute obedience,
your very humble servant,
Isidore Grézel (missionary)