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19 October 1846 — Father Jean-Louis Rocher to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, September 2010

Ad majorem Dei gloriam & Dei Genitricis Mariæ virginis
Sydney 19 October 1846
Very Reverend Father,
Fearing that my letter dated the first of this month may not have reached you, I am taking advantage of a ship leaving for Europe tomorrow to give you a short résumé of that letter.
I would like to give you a good piece of news at the beginning of my letter. Mary had watched over our dear colleagues at San Cristobal; they have all been spared. At the moment, the missionaries can go rather far into the interior without any danger. The natives seem to be afraid of them and love them. The island is full of yams, taro and coconuts. In addition when Bishop Douarre and Father Junillon arrived they still had a small amount of their original supplies; so they have not suffered from a lack of food, but God has not spared them trials. Fever has more or less weakened them all. When the schooner arrived, several were still very ill. Nonetheless, they are still full of courage and are really keen to return to Isabel.
Bishop Douarre and the letters of father Junillon which His Lordship is bringing will give you all the information that you could want on the situation of our dear colleagues in Melanesia.
In this same letter I am advising you that I was about to draw 3220 pounds sterling=8000 francs from the form of Mrs Guérin (widow) and Sons at Lyon to pay for expenses incurred by Father Junillon on his return to Sydney from San Cristobal, but fortunately having learnt by a chance that 825 pounds 14 shillings and 6 pence had been paid to the Commercial Bank of Sydney in the name of Father Dubreul, I stopped that draft to give you more time to honour it. (That is what I am hoping for in most gently and most confidently). Father Dubreul on his arrival in Lyons should tell you about it. It was agreed that I should not spend more than 6000 francs, but despite every possible saving I could not restrict myself to that amount.
Several days ago I received a letter advising me that 825 pounds 14 shillings and 6 pence had been paid into the Commercial Bank of Sydney. As Father Dubreul had taken the trouble of giving me powers of attorney for these matters before he left, the money has been immediately available to me.
I have also received the balance statement of our accounts with the Rothschild Bank at Paris; having found it correct I have sent them a letter confirming that I have received their letter and confirming the statement. In accordance with our rules, I have sent a copy to Father Poupinel, It is easy to see that the amount spent to cover the deficit at the Econome (bursar’s office) owing to Father Dubreul is absolutely excessive. This is what has made the deficit of our first statement much greater.
I am waiting very impatiently for the money which you were good enough to get for us from the Propagation of the Faith. I desperately need it right now for our mission station.
Bishop Douarre will leave Sydney at the beginning of next month. Brother Jean will be with him. The prime goal of his trip to France will be the independence of New Caledonia from the central mission station and also manpower and plenty of money.
His Lordship arrived in Sydney having no money; so he had to be given an advance despite the overdraft which we are incurring now. His advance is for more than 1,000 francs. This amount includes 500 francs for the purchase of clothing for the missionaries, brothers and workers. In a few days time I will have to advance him another amount to cover the costs of this trip to France. You know that includes: beds, clothing, etc
Bishop Douarre protested a lot that last time he had paid the bursar’s office for his food. In point of fact that is a little strange, and I will be well advised that that will not occur again. Yet as the expenses will be completely too great to be sustained by the bursar’s office, because of its present circumstance, we would need to have a certain amount given to us in secret to cover the costs that the missionaries are occurring during their voyage. And that is what I am hoping to realize soon with the help of Mary until the bursar’s office is suitably put on its feet.
I am very sure that, after the difficulties which the bursar’s office has met in establishing itself in Sydney, we will attempt to set it up elsewhere. Bishop Douarre would like it in New Caledonia; Father Dubreul who has become grand vicar of Bishop Bataillon wants it in Wallis. As far as I am concerned my feeling is that it should not be put in any of the apostolic vicariates of the Marist Society so that it can be of use to all the missionaries alike without their being the slightest suspicion of preferential treatment. In my opinion, Sydney is the most suitable place. I think that gradually difficulties will disappear.
Conversations and a letter that I have received from the islands advise me that I have not been served well by the apostolic vicars and the Marist missionaries. It had been said that I am useless at the bursar’s office in Sydney, etc. the reason for my telling you that is not to try to defend myself, but solely to reassure you that I would not take offence were you to send me elsewhere, whatever the vicariate is.
As the post is going to close, I will end my letter at this juncture, promising to write to you again when Bishop Douarre leaves
Very Reverend father, accept the assurance of my respectful feelings,
your very humble and
very obedient child in Jesus and Mary
Marist priest.