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Fr Auguste-Joseph Chouvet to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Kororareka, 28 October 1845

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, November 2005

APM Z 208 28 October 1845

V[eni] S[ancte] Spiritus[1]

Ave M[aria] sine labe C[oncepta][2]

Kororareka, 28 October 1845

Very Reverend Father

I think you must have received my last letter, dated, if I remember correctly, last July.[3] I told you that I was hoping to leave for France because of the weakness of my sight, which has, truly, reduced me to a completely inactive state. It will be only in the presence of God and out of obedience that I will explain to you, if the good God brings me to your feet, all the reasons for this inactivity. I tremble at the very thought of saying, before God who is present everywhere, the least thing contrary to the edicts and opinions of Bishop Pompallier. I even admit to you in my soul and in my conscience that I have no great inclination to do this, for fear of making myself responsible, before the Lord in something important, although I have difficulty in believing that judgments would be arrived at on the basis of my reports. No doubt if I were more perfect, or to put it more exactly, if I were less imperfect, I would resolve to live in prayer and without ministry for a long time and always. But I could hardly promise myself more than a future of tepidity in that situation. That is quite true. Just recently I have been a year eating without working,[4] while I enjoy good health. I will explain that to you better, as far as my conscience will allow me; because I assure you that with the exception of those who prepared me for the priesthood, I have complete trust only in you who opened the way for an apostolic ministry to me although I was so unworthy and incapable for it, I who am the Benjamin of the Queen of Heaven, my good mother.[5]

Oh! Believe what I say (I am speaking to you in this way because Bishop Pompallier has probably not understood it) in the midst of my shortcomings, especially a lack of self-denial, I have presented myself in my simplicity to your paternity, I have always spoken to you in that way, and have written to you similarly.

Seeing myself now in a degree of uncertainty when I leave, or rather if I leave, the Bishop giving me strongly [p2] to understand that he very much fears that I will harm the mission by my reports, while more and more the sight of my infidelities makes me think I am much more guilty than all the sinners of this island, and will be for me,[6] it seems equally to me that my weakness can promise to put a brake on my tongue on this matter. Besides, I have always written honestly. How could I go and declaim otherwise? (Besides there is no shortage of material for a sad story.) Anyway I will submit to you what I have to say on this matter, hoping to see you first among everyone I know in France, in order to hear and receive your holy advice. But I foresee that my words will not be followed [up?]. Seeing myself, I say, in a state of uncertainty as to when, or even if, I will leave, I have written to my parents who could have heard of the disturbances going on in this country, and to whom I have not written for a long time, and who could be over-concerned about me. I did not mention to them any extraordinary details about the mission. I spoke to them about pious matters.

Pray for me a lot to Jesus and Mary without sin, and, dare I speak to you thus, have people pray for me.

Your very humble and obedient son
Chouvet, priest.

I have not sealed any of the accompanying letters, and I ask you to obliterate or tear up or burn [them] if it is necessary.


  1. Come, Holy Spirit
  2. Hail Mary, conceived without sin
  3. Actually 29 June 1845
  4. A reference here to 2 Thessalonians 3:10 seems likely - translator’s note
  5. Benjamin refers to the youngest of Jacob’s sons, Benjamin, who was particularly loved by his father as a son of his beloved Rachel – Genesis 42:2; 44:27-34 - translator’s note
  6. ? – qui me fait juger que je suis bien plus coupable que tous le pêcheurs de cette île et sera pour moi