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Br Joseph-Xavier (Jean-Marie Luzy) to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Futuna, 20 May 1848

D’après l’expédition, APM OW 208 Luzy.

Clisby Letter 73. Girard doc. 702

Introduction and translation by Br Edward Clisby FMS


It would appear that Bataillon’s original intention in taking Joseph-Xavier with him on his tour of the vicariate was to help with the building, the repair, and furnishing of churches [2]. The amount of work required on Futuna necessitated his staying there when the Bishop moved on. This letter was written at the new “college” established at Kolopelu in the hills in the south of the island, not far from Alo. Founded to form brothers, it was named “Our Lady of the Hermitage”, after the Brothers’ mother house in France. Grezel had a dozen students there, Wallisians as well as Futunans, and Bataillon was so pleased with their progress on his return a few months later that he appointed Joseph to the staff. This is one of the few occasions a brother in his vicariate was allowed to teach.

Antoine Freydier-Dubreul (1810-1867), a Marist since 1840, had been helping with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Lyon until his appointment as superior of the Pacific procure in Sydney in 1844. At the end of 1845 he made a six month tour of the islands and was then delegated by Batallion and Douarre to represent them in Rome over the difficulties about the missions of Central Oceania. The missionaries obviously hoped that he would understand their needs, but in the end it was Bataillon, as usual, who had the say. Marie-Nizier has more to say about this redistribution of resources in his letters (rf eg L 86). This letter is found, in an edited and expanded form, in Annales des Missions pp 386-7.

Text of the Letter

Very Reverend Father,
I do not let any opportunity pass without sending you some news, and I will not fail to do so today, since you have been good enough to write me a few lines which have given me much pleasure.
I am writing this to you from Futuna. Monsignor has allowed me to accompany him on his voyage to this island to help him rebuild the churches, especially the church of Notre Dame des Martyres, which was in great need of repairs, if not complete rebuilding. Then I have made an altar, a confessional, a chair, a communion table, a cupboard for storing the linen and the various things needed for the establishment. I have also shaped and engraved a large stone to place on the spot where the good Fr Chanel shed his blood, also made a cross of hard wood which has been planted on the site where he was buried. I have done all that in less than 4 months with the help of one or two boys from Wallis who came with us. They sawed all the timber themselves. You see, reverend Father, how the children of Wallis are beginning to be of great service to us.
Since I have not done anything at St Josephs, Monsignor is leaving me on Futuna to do the same repairs as at Notre Dame des Martyres. He will return in a few months to see his little family at Kolopelu (the Hermitage) under the direction of Fr Grezele (sic), and take me with him to Tonga or elsewhere to set up the churches. It vexes me to be separated from Monsignor, but obedience before everything. It is necessary to give the children of the Hermitage more training in agriculture, carpentry, joinery, and cooking. The youngsters are all very willing, and I often regret I can’t give them something to encourage them even more. Monsignor certainly gives them what they need, but sometimes the reward is not much. Reverend Father, I haven’t asked you for anything since I have been on the mission. Today I appeal to your tender love for your children, which is much greater than mine, although I have the responsibility of teaching them how to work, to send me some cotton cloth, calico, or some blouses, even some little books. The Roman office in Latin would be well received since some can read Latin and others French. Fr Dubreuille (sic) knows a little of our needs and said he was sending us some blouses. But on opening the cases we found nothing addressed to us. Monsignor had decided to put everything together and then send each mission its share. I got only the miserable little parcel my relatives sent, with a few things His Lordship was kind enough to send me. A little plug of tobacco encourages a youngster as much as a packet of holy pictures can encourage a child who is getting to know his Good Mother.
There, reverend Father, are my pressing demands on you. But do not comply with them unless you think it appropriate. Let’s stop talking about these things and review our situation. I am still, as far as I can tell, much the same. I perform my exercises of piety as I can. I am not among the most virtuous; manual work, carpentry, the animals, the sick, and various other things often prevent me from completing my exercises. Often I recite my little office, my rosary, the way of the cross, and other little prayers as I go, sometimes at a trot, sometimes at a gallop. I don’t think the good God and the Blessed Virgin are always angry at that. They are well aware of my wretchedness and weakness.
And you, my reverend Father, because of my fickleness and weakness, you are obliged to pray for me in particular from time to time, and to have prayers said for me, and to call upon the blessed Father Chanel to intercede for me with the One who has given him his crown, to deliver me from all sorts of bad thoughts and the temptations of the demon. The swelling of my leg and the other illnesses give me no relief. I unite my sufferings to yours so that you may offer them to God.
Accept my reverend Father, my humble and obedient respects,
Luzy. Br Jos. Xa.

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