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30 December 1845 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Reverend Meydat, secretary of his Lordship the Bishop of Clermont, New Caledonia

Translated by Peter McConnell, June 2010

My dear friend,
It was with very much pleasure that I learnt of all your inspired enthusiasm which you have for the mission field in New Caledonia, and may God be blessed for ever for that! As far as we are concerned, excellent friend and great vicar, we will be capable of only one thing, namely beseeching the divine goodness all the days of our lives to take you into consideration for it.
I will not give you any detail in this letter, because I have to open my heart to you entirely. I found out that the Bishop of Clermont had been angered by a letter that I had the honour of writing to the archbishop of Paris which that prelate had made public, something I would never have expected, not having claimed to have written well enough for that. That’s what I am saying without any humility. The kind acts of that worthy prelate gave me a duty and an obligation and I was happy to pay him a debt so dear to my heart. It is true, I promised him that I should keep conscientiously namely placing under the patronage of St Denis the first church that I will build. This action was made on condition of receiving the help of twenty-five thousand francs, although I foresaw that that amount would serve more for the mission station at the centre of operations than at New Caledonia. As the heart of a bishop must be particularly all-embracing, I made that promise with pleasure not thinking that such a step could be interpreted in a bad light.
Moreover I thought of erecting two churches at the same time, one in honour of Saint Austremoine and the other under the patronage of Saint Denis. In all cases the mission station of New Caledonia always had and will always have, as long as I am responsible for it, Saint Austremoine as its first patron. Every year we celebrate his feast day although it is not in the roman breviary; we name in the suffrages and general prayers. Father Rougeyron who is alone with me at the moment could swear to it, and Father Viard, who has just left us to be with his new bishop as we agreed to, would swear to it also if need be.
The trials, my dear friend, are nothing for me provided that they do not hurt the mission station in any way; that’s what I must not be in the position of dreading, as this mission station is the work of God. However I would be very upset if the Bishop of Clermont stopped showing me the kindnesses of which he has given me so many proofs and which have made me so happy.
I have been able to forget myself when I was asking for a favour from my very dear parish. I thought a priest begging a favour from his dear children would be easily excused. I shall speak to you moreover completely truthfully and with all the frankness by which you know me. I am more than convinced that in the advice of the bishop or among people who are near His Lordship, there are those who are opposed to me without my knowing how and why. I would even be able to give some examples, but in this letter I do not want to judge anybody and I’ll leave to God the trouble of my justification. I have however some facts, all the bishops of France take pleasure in consecrating their diocesans and you know what happened to me, I had everything from the ministry for building the branch of La Tourette and you are still aware what that resulted in. Far from me the merest thought of the bishop; I have deeply engraved into my heart both his kindnesses, his actions and his words.
I give you full permission to use my letter in the best way you think. I know your prudence, your wisdom, and all interest which you carry for the Bishop of New Caledonia. There are few of us, a single priest, and me and three brothers. Jean Taragnat was so seriously indisposed on travelling with the Bishop of Sion, but God played his part and the good brother has recovered.
Father Rougeyron and your servant spare themselves in no way. If we had help, all New Caledonia would be so converted; it will be so because God will help us in that endeavour. I assure you, our past troubles, the cooling off of people so dear to us, or to speak more frankly, of the Bishop of Clermont, are for me a sure pledge of his help. God tests those he loves and it is only by the cross that we engender children for the church.
I have just obtained a beautiful property from the main tribe of New Caledonia. I am planning on founding our most important settlement and I am keeping for the church which I will be building there under the patronage of Saint Outremoine the beautiful stained glass windows which Mr de --- has given me. The name escapes me at the moment. You know him; it is not Mr Thibaud.
I will not finish without begging you to remember me to the people who are dear to me, my deepest respect to your family and a visit to Mrs Desternes who will not have failed to be put out by her dear son but still as a good mother if she found out that it had occurred that the bishop was antagonized against me.
Don’t complain, my dear friend, my sins deserve a lot more, only pray that God will never abandon me and that I may accomplish the work which he has called me to.
I am taking the same opportunity to write to the bishop. I am not giving you any details, I am in too much of a rush. I am leaving you in the hearts of Jesus and Mary where we are so well, and I ask your love which I am so desirous of, my feelings for you of which you are aware will always be the same,
Your very devoted Guillaume, Bishop of Amata.
I would be very grateful to you if you would pass on my letter to the former vicar of Saint Ours, Father Perrier, whose address I do not know.