8 February 1846 - Father Louis-Catherin Servant to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Futuna
Translated by Natalie Keen, February 2014
Source APM OW 208 Servant
One sheet, forming 4 pages with three written, the fourth bearing only the Poupinel annotation, address at the bottom of the first page. In the letter register, ED 1, bearing number 187.
- To the very reverend Superior-General of the Society of Mary
- Central Oceania * Futuna * 8 February 1846 * Father Servant
- Queen of Martyrs, 8 February 1846 Futuna
- My very reverend Superior and dear Father,
- You don’t often get news from us; you must put it down to the deep solitude which surrounds us. But this solitude which cuts us off entirely from the world I consider not a disadvantage but rather a source of peace for us and as a means of salvation for our dear novices. May it last forever!
- Here is what I do with myself each day: I keep extending my instruction for these people so dear to our Society; we are beginning to teach some of our young ones to read Latin and sing God’s praises in church language. We have already taught several children to serve as choir boys; they are most useful to us. What is more, a few of the more intelligent youngsters are successfully studying the Latin language. We must hope that if it is the will of God a few of these will later on be altar boys.
- We would like to give the youth here an expanded course of instruction but we consider it is essential for them to have a solid grounding in religion; it is right to stress what is important before what is pleasant and helpful.
- To all this activity , add as well long screeds I’ve just written about Futuna and the life and death of our good Father Chanel, followed by copious details on the Futuna mission. I guess I shall get these to you this year. Perhaps you would want to know where we are up to at the moment in temporal and spiritual matters. First of all I have only good news to give you about our general routine: many young folk busy themselves solely with temporal care, they never leave us in need. And so we live as a family in Futuna; our islanders would consider it shameful to ask the priests for the cost of the food they provide. This way of life is invaluable for the missionaries; it relieves them of all temporal cares. We ask central funds for nothing but what we need for clothing and liturgical objects, kitchen utensils and various tools necessary for a household. After all that, don’t you consider, my reverend Father, that we are blessed? Haven’t we blessings a hundred fold in this life?
- What shall I tell you about spiritual matters here? There is amongst us the greatest harmony; at the present time, crosses and trials no longer seem to be part of our lot, or at least they are minimal; alas! while so many missionaries have so much to undergo to gain the kingdom of heaven, God is considerate to us because of our weakness; may His name be praised forever. Perhaps it will not be out of place to lay before you a few details on the mission to give you some basis for enlightenment thereon.
- The killer mainly responsible for the death of reverend Father Chanel died recently after a long and painful illness. His death was that of a good Christian; his life had concerned us for a long time, but God looked down on him with pity and sent him an illness with great suffering; Musumusu withdrew unto himself, he never stopped saying he wanted to die for God, that he wanted to go to heaven. I am keeping more detailed coverage for you in the writings that I am intending to have sent to you.
- I have a plan to share with you. When our novices are sufficiently advanced in instruction, I have the plan to build two churches; the bamboo ones we have at present are only temporary. Oh! how happy I shall be when these two buildings are completed! But it is advisable to strengthen the spiritual church before undertaking material structures.
- The population of Futuna is increasing daily; formerly wars, infanticides, the chaos of paganism imperceptibly destroyed the Futuna population; today, thank God, religion has removed all the causes of destruction. In the space of about 18 months, the population has grown by 50. One can assume this growth will carry on increasing more and more. Add to this the number of islanders from elsewhere who gladly stop in Futuna, because of the peace which reigns in this island, the hospitality of its inhabitants; thus we have a native of Timor, Sandwich, several natives from Wallis. Latterly, we welcomed a large launch which brought a certain number of Fijians with a German and two Englishmen. To these we must add some Rotuman islanders who are just waiting for the moment to set sail with ministers of religion to share with their homeland the feelings they have derived from Futuna. May all these strangers come into the fold of the Saviour and come to know Him who is the way, the truth and the life.
- Here, my very reverend Father, I end my letter asking you to beseech our divine master to bless this mission along with those responsible for it. In the meantime, please accept my deeply respectful and warm good wishes with which I have the honour to be, very reverend and dear Superior,
- Your very humble, obedient and devoted servant
- Louis Catherin Servant
- Apostolic Prefect
- Your very humble, obedient and devoted servant
- Cf. Moyse-Faurie, Ecrits de Louis Catherin Servant