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28 September 1846 — Fr Ferdinand-François Junillon to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, September 2010

Sydney 28th September, the eve of my departure
Very Reverend Father Superior,
I am taking the liberty of submitting to you the following articles which are the result of reflections I have made on my travels:
Firstly. The mission stations of Oceania can’t do without being visited. For that task you can’t count on merchant ships and whalers.; the former never go into the islands of the central mission station, and when the others appear there, It is to re-victual and not to supply the missionaries with what they need.
Secondly. We need a ship which was used by the bursar’s office, stationed at Sydney or Tahiti, wherever it was thought best to have it, provided that it could serve its purpose best wherever it was.
Thirdly. For that to occur there should be somewhere in the mission station a depot facility where all the things coming from France could be placed, and from there sent out by the above mentioned ship into the different respective mission stations.
Fourthly. I have already gained enough experience by the one trip I have just made to think that a mission station can meet on its own all the expenses that a ship entails. Moreover, having a bigger one, we could have a well-established crew. There is no life more painful that that of a priest on board a ship with a bad crew. I would have given up such trips had it not been that I was doing it for God.
Fifthly. The ships coming from France could bring all that the mission stations would need, except for flour, biscuits, rice, sugar, coffee, and tea which are cheaper here, unless we take certain articles from the French colonies.
Tools for carpentry, cabinetmaking, masonry and agriculture could also come from France provided the missionaries paid for it.
As far as clothing, shoes and hats are concerned, they can’t come to us from any place than France otherwise they would cost a considerable amount. That is the point I must refer back to for buying material to make a soutane.
Sixthly. The missionaries can’t do without hunting rifles. They should all have them when they leave France and from time to time they should be sent to those already in the mission field. Choosing unsophisticated rifles but checked ones, you can buy them very cheaply. They must have a small calibre but not be short; then they are much lighter. English rifles are very dear, very heavy and very expensive to use
Seventhly. Among the Brothers whom you send, could you find some who knew how to make bricks and to do masonry work. In the islands we could find everything necessary for religious buildings and houses.
Eighthly. It is good that you should know everything that Bishop Epalle had to suffer, as well as his missionaries on the two English ships which they used for their voyage. Besides, a large number of things essential for life were denied them, although stipulated in their contracts. At table the captain came to an arrangement with the others so as not to leave anything edible for the missionaries. He took the liberty of treating the missionaries as dogs at meal times. A Protestant minister who knew English well got up several times from the table when this happened, angry that they insulted men who appeared so good and so honest.
The ship they took at Sydney for the Solomon Islands gobbled up a lot of their money by not taking the planned route, intending to waste time and being paid so much per day They were fed all the time with salted beef that had gone rotten. Accordingly they suffered terribly.
Ninthly. We should not be worried about sending hob-nailed shoes to the mission stations of the Solomon Islands nor of New Caledonia. will say the same for Futuna which is a very mountainous country.
Tenthly. I am still of the opinion it is appropriate to tell you that in the Solomons the married women are naked or pretty close to it and those who are not married are completely naked. Those of New Caledonia are dressed decently in comparison. But for your consolation, Reverend Father, you need to be told that there are special graces for the missionaries.
Eleventhly. I remember that I told you once of a great advantage that there would be in priests of the same country doing as much as possible together. It appears that close relationships would be greater and that this concession made to nature would make the deprivations, which are greater here than elsewhere, more easy to bear.
Reverend Father, I remembered what you said to me when I was sent to the Wallis Islands to establish a mission station there. When I arrived there I spoke briefly about it to my bishop, to get him to sacrifice in favour of this mission station, personnel who wanted to come and consecrate themselves to the salvation of the poor Pacific Islanders. That plan made him smile a great deal. In writing to Bishop Bataillon you can, if you think it appropriate, mention it to him. I did so shortly after my arrival. He recognized a great advantage in that plan.
Twelfthly. A house in the south of France where natives from various islands would seem to me as being greatly advantageous for the mission stations.
I have two of them with me. Everybody admires them for their good conduct and intelligence.
Father Dubreul must have spoken to you about a youngster whom he took to the bursar’s office; He is already beginning to speak English and a little French. It is inconceivable how everything they see opens up their minds.
Thirteenthly For the Wallis and Futuna Islands, we need classical books such as a Latin grammar, the sacred epitome, etc We haven’t a Latin dictionary in the whole island.
Song books as big as possible for mass and Vespers would be very useful unless we were sent some paper and the wherewithal to make some in the Wallis Islands.
Fourteenthly. I have seen Father Grange in New Caledonia. We chatted a lot together. He still believes that you are going to write to him telling him to return to France. I told him I did not think you would do so, and that knowing that he was in New Caledonia, you would tell him the opposite, namely to stay there, predicting all the good that he can do there. He is reasonably well. I asked the bishop to put him in a mission station where he would have light duties.
Your quite devoted and respectful servant, Junillon,
Apostolic missionary.