From Marist Studies
1 September 1845 — Fr Antoine Dubreul to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney
Translated by Peter McConnell, June 2010
- No 3. N(ew) Holland, 1 September 1845
- Very Reverend Father
- Bishop Epalle arrived in Sydney on June 22 with our dear colleagues. During the passage he had been rather seriously ill but through the prayers and attention of our good priests and bothers, he was cured in a few days and has since recovered. All the others had some passing indispositions and a week of rest in Sydney have been enough to restore their perfect health and make them forget all their troubles. We did everything which depended on us to make them happy and content in the little base house which we rented. Our daily meals were a little too modest for the stomachs of the travellers; we have changed the,. The first five weeks have been pleasant for everybody. But then we got bored with doing nothing and being in Sydney after two and a half months stay as unsure of our departure as on the first day. However on he outside everybody seems always cheerful and content. We laugh like fools and we enjoy ourselves like children. Bishop Epalle is never so well as at those moments. Since he landed he has put on weight and looks refreshed.
- Our dear colleagues have sent me our letters and the rule of the provincial to the foreign mission stations. Your good advice and your forgiveness for my failings will bolster me in the midst of difficulties which we have our share of here. Even your reprimands will always be received with all the submission and gratitude that I have promised you and that I renew from the bottom of my heart. Therefore, very Reverend Father, don’t fail a single occasion to send me this help, for your letters do me such good I will relate to you all the failings that I discover in my behaviour and I will pray to god to make you know the others. Ask Jesus and Mary for my sake the blessing of having with you a great sincerity of heart. I regard that quality as one of the most essential for a missionary religious who lives far from his superiors.
- Herewith the third letter I have written to you since we left London. Here are the most important things that they contain, in a few words. We embarked in London on November 27. We were very well on the ship except for a few verbal altercations which served as making us more prudent and more disciplined in the midst of dangers which we had relatively exposed ourselves to three male and female passengers. On April 12, a Sunday, we landed at Sydney after four and a half months without any break. We entered the port on Saturday night. Our first care on disembarking was to have us taken to the church to thank God and Mary for our successful passage. After Mass Bishop Polding received us at the seminary. He gave us a very kind welcome. Then he appeared embarrassed for some days. But soon we received from him trust and marks of interest that convinced us to believe that he considered us as friends. When Father Therry gave us Maryvil, he spoke to me frankly of the way he dealt with administering to several different societies in his diocese. But when I told him that we were not intending to make a noviciate nor even a college without his permission , he lost his anxiety and he understood that we only wanted to establish a base house for the service of our missions. We have always been on the very best terms with Bishop Polding. I have never done anything without consulting him and this excellent prelate, capable and holy, will favour us one day as much as he can. That; is my hope.
- Our trip, the considerable amount of furnishings we have bought second-hand when our 14 colleagues arrived, the considerable household expenses, when we have to buy everything without growing it ourselves, etc, puts us in a quandary this year. A pound of butter 50 pence, a pound of onions 24 pence, an apple 8 pence. It is true we never eat any. If we had not been obliged to think of our dear colleagues arriving two months after us we would now have had at Maryvil (a property given by Father Therry ) a little house that would be very necessary for us. Because without accommodation we would not be able to have the 47 acres of land that we have there cultivated. We get from the property only our fuel for heating. That saves us 400 a year. It is urgent that we find as soon as possible something for us in Sydney. Consequently, very reverend Father, we beg you through the charity of Jesus Christ and of our good mother to send us at least 20,000 for two years and so you can spare yourself worrying about the base. But if you miss this moment, I do not know where the expenses for purchasing a base will go to. If we miss cultivating Maryvil we will have heavy expenses for food. If we do not but to build in Sydney where lands increase and diminish considerably from year to year, we will regret it, in my humble opinion.
- Bishop Pompallier arrived four days ago,. He came to Sydney with the only English priest whom he brought with him nine months ago. This priest did not return to New Zealand , I believe. Our first conversation with Bishop Pompallier was only one of friendship because of the presence of several people. The second one took place between Bishop Epalle and Bishop Pompallier alone, Bishop Epalle was keen on that. I allowed them to do that, but it seems that they had rather unpleasant disagreements with each other. The third visit was a start to explaining what we have with Bishop Pompallier. I have the impression that too much is placed on personalities and things become personal before getting to the essential matters. That is to say the main questions which are included in the last letter you wrote to me. Bishop Pompallier seems disposed to an arrangement; in today’s meeting he attempted as on previous occasions to exonerate himself from accusations which have been made against him. We read the ruling of the provincial; we hope he will agree to it. In the next meeting we will get his consent, with the grace of God and the protection of our mother for the articles in your dear letter. The temporal separation of the bishop will make some difficulties.
- The ship is going to leave; I’ll finish my letter of which I shall send you a copy by the next ship with details on a lot of things which it will be useful for you to know as soon as possible. Do excuse me with the members of the Propagation of the Faith and of the chairman in particular. The inconveniences of this week have prevented me finishing my letters.
- Brother Auguste and Reverend Father Rocher are well. Father Rocher can’t express himself in English. That sometimes makes him annoyed and usually very unhappy when he is asked to do the slightest task. For what can you do when you do not know how to speak with somebody. You could not imagine how much trouble I have had in this role. Father Rocher said too that Brother Auguste had been forced to come to the base and he said it in so many words in front of all our colleagues. But it was during recreation and not done seriously, I think. Besides he is the best colleague, the best friend you could give us. I always want to keep him near me.
- Very reverend father, do accept my respectful embraces with the most sincere assurance of obedience and devotion to all your wishes in Jesus and Mary,
- Antoine Dubreul,