From Marist Studies
20 October 1846 — Fathers Joseph-François Roulleaux, Jean-Baptiste Bréhéret and Brother Annet Pérol to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Fiji
Translated by Peter McConnell, October 2010
- Mother of Sorrows, pray for us
- Fiji, station of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows, Lakeba, 20 October 1846
- Very Reverend,
- At the moment Reverend Father Junillon is visiting us. He is returning to Wallis after a journey of nine months, the delay being caused by the martyrdom of Bishop Epalle. In brief the ship is leaving this morning. Our little mission station has made some progress this year, but only among the native Tongans who come here to build their canoes. We have about 85 to 90 and count in that number about a dozen baptized children. They are all from Tonga Tapu and come to us with heretical ideas. However the Fijian natives seem even less disposed to embrace the faith; those people are still immature; massive amounts of prayer or perhaps martyrs are needed to win them for God. They think only of material things and up until now show no taste for religion. War broke out in several parts of the archipelago, but if you waited for peace to come before preaching the Gospel to them, you would wait until the end of the world. It has been like that from time immemorial. Heresy makes some progress among them especially in this little kingdom, where it has increased considerably over the last two years. It has a swarm of instructors who spread out everywhere. How evil heresy is, very Reverend Father! I had no idea of it until I saw it at close hand I think we need an apostolic vicar with five or six tough missionaries who are all ready to do everything to put the mission station on its feet and make its mark on these coarse people who judge things only by appearances. As long as we are missionaries in small numbers, as if lost in this big archipelago, I don’t think the mission station can take root and be able to fight against heresy. Warships would also be needed from time to time to make an appearance and to frighten those wild beasts. I recommend them with all my heart to the prayers of our Society and of the associates of the Propaganda of the Faith.
- As for us, very Reverend Father, we are having our little retreat at the Assumption, a little more distracted than last year. We would very much like to have had the visit of Reverend Father Provincial, but we don’t hear a word about that. I have been very satisfied with Father Bréhéret; he is a good priest, gentle, obedient, patient, peace-loving, hardworking and well disciplined in all aspects. The good Virgin had pity on me by bringing him to me. Brother Annét Pérol who serves us has annoyed me all year. First of all he is incompetent; he doesn’t know how to do anything and in particular he is resentful and grizzles. He takes all corrections in bad spirit. I swear that I have avoided as much as possible giving him chores not controlling enough my feelings of impatience which he gives me. I pray a lot to the Holy Virgin to help me be more gentle and more patient. Moreover, he has some good points; he is prayerful and he likes praying. I wrote to the bishop to send him to other priests. As for me, I am still quite imperfect and quite wretched and recommend myself earnestly to your prayers. Deep down I have a certain amount of arrogance and a domineering spirit that I do not work on eliminating; I feel I give in to those feelings from time to time. I am very short tempered with others. I do not give myself completely into the hands of God, of the good virgin, when I feel like that. I am not even meditative enough; I look for outer consolations too much. I feel full of sadness caused by worries which come to me frequently at night time, in my sleep, while striking my chest. These worries I have tried in vain to avoid. It is like a type of obsession which must be a punishment from God, who is just in all things. Justus es, domine, et rectum judicium tuum [= Lord, you are just and your decisions are right]. Very Reverend Father, I beg you to beseech the Holy Virgin, my Holy Mother, to have at last pity on me and not let me die in this affliction from which she had rescued me on a former occasion.
- As for their health, the priest and the brother are rather strong; I alone am still languishing. Beside the secret infirmity which I have written to you about last year I have had asthma for about three months, a pain in the kidneys and thighs. It gives me a lot of pain and hinders me from doing chores. I wrote to the bishop; he will do with me according to his judgement. Yet I am still of good heart and I still want to serve.
- Reverend Father, these are the main things I had to tell you. We have to suffer a little as far as food is concerned, but Providence surrounds us still with a lot of worries on that score.
- There is still a request I have to make to you. I haven’t time to write to my father; if Reverend Father Poupinel would be so kind as obliging me by writing to him a few words informing him about me and assuring him that I never stop praying for him and for all my brothers and sisters.
- All three of us ask for your blessing and we recommend ourselves especially to your prayers and to those of our Society. With a profound respect, a tender love, and in humble submission, we are your children in the Fijian Islands,
- Joseph-François Roulleaux
- In charge of the mission station
- Jean Bréhéret
- Apostolic missionary