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28 September 1845 — Fr Léopold Verguet to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, June 2010

J(esus) M(ary) J(oseph)
Sydney, 28 September 1845

Very reverend Father,
I am having some difficulty in telling you about what is on my mind because I feel it is not praiseworthy. Yet it is really necessary that I should talk to you about it. You yourself have asked me to write frequently, besides I am convinced that you will feel for me in my misery.
I feel so to speak an aversion in renewing my vows. On the ship, towards the end of the passage, I was of a mind not to renew them. At Sydney I was sent from one festival to another and it has been more than three months that we have been here without my being able to decide to make another step towards my final vows. Religious obedience frightens me now that I have experienced a little of it. I can’t put an end to my own wishes. I do not think that I have done anything visible that can give my colleagues some doubts about the state in which I find myself. I speak about it only to my chaplain. I can’t decide to talk about it to the bishop. If I listened to my own inclinations I would immediately leave the Marist Society because the bishop wants with him only those priests who are completely involved, but when I think of the confidence which you have shown you had in me in letting me leave before the end of my novitiate I would always reproach myself for not having responded to it. After a lot of hesitation I have finally decided to write back to you about it. I still love the missions a great deal; I am looking forward to being among the natives; dying there as a martyr would be for me the crowning joy. On the other hand I cannot cope with the idea of not seeing my parents again. I would like to return to my country in eight or nine years, if I am still alive. I would make the passage at my own expense and on arriving in France I would beg you to dispense me of my vows. I am of the firm opinion now that if this present state of worry persists, you will have no difficulty in dispensing me from my vows, when I beg you to do so. My wanting to respond at least in some small way to the trust that you have shown in me behoves me to renew my vows at the same time as my colleagues. I will pronounce them with the intention of committing myself in a limitless way on the sole proviso that you will be able to dispense me from them.
I have the honour, very reverend father, of being your very affectionate servant and unworthy son in Jesus and Mary,
Leopold Verguet
Society of Mary.
We all enjoy good physical health. Soon we shall steep our souls in a few days of retreat.
Bishop Pompallier is not well; yet from his voice we know that his chest is a little tired; If I can draw his portrait before leaving, I shall send it to you.
Father Montrouzier is very busy with Natural History; he proposes to send you a rather large collection of plants from this country. We are going from time to time to collect specimens together.
I have copied the plan of the intended store house; Father Dubreul will send it to you as well as that of Maryville which I have copied from of a government plan.
The hot weather is beginning to be noticeable; we often go bathing. If we knew how to swim a bit that would help us a great deal in the case of a shipwreck.
The news of a shipwreck in the Bass Strait in which 414 people lost their lives has just thrown Sydney into dismay. They were emigrants on board a vessel from Liverpool, (England), sailing to Port Phillip (New Holland).
The war in New Zealand is not to the advantage of the English; they have always been beaten by the natives. The governor has make some criticism of Bishop Pompallier for contributing a little to rousing the natives through his publications and books written in the Maori language. It is a calumny which will become a disadvantage to the one who has shamelessly put forward that suggestion without their being any proof.