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25 June 1848 —- Father Mathieu Gagnière to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Anatom

Translated by Mary Williamson, June 2017

Based on the document sent, APM ONC Gagnière.

Sheet of paper measuring 170 mm x 223 mm, forming two written pages, with Poupinel’s annotation at the top of the first page.

[p.1, at the top of the page in Poupinel’s handwriting]
1848 / Father Gagnière

Saint Joseph’s Bay / Annatom 25th June 1848
To the Reverend Father Superior general
My Reverend Father, [1]
I would have liked to make, or finalise my vows at the time that I started in the mission. But the Reverend Father Rougeyron did not consider it suitable: he was not sure to what degree he was able to represent you in such circumstances. He asked me to wait until we had a provincial with us. Whilst waiting till I can tighten and strengthen the gentle bonds that attach me to Mary, I am going to endeavour to make myself more worthy to bear them. Providence has greatly helped me in this.
Here I am, for the time being at least, with Father Rougeyron. He has both the religious and the Marist spirit. I would be pleased if you would bear in mind this sincere testimony to him, that I present. The Society is not something foreign or indifferent for him. He recognises that we owe everything to it, as with a good mother. He respects its wishes and institutions as verbi gratia his desire that we might always be together as one. Also he knows how to put each thing in its proper order. Things spiritual occupy first place and despite the manual work required and care given to his fellow man he knows how to find time for devotion and instruction. His secret, so he tells me, is to have a particular discipline which has us do each thing in its own time. I am telling you this quite simply as my own conviction is that the Reverend Father Rougeyron has all the qualities necessary to make a good Superior for the Marists in our curacy. My intention in letting you know of his fine qualities is only to give you pleasure and to serve the Society by bringing to your attention things that are far removed from you, or in confirming what others may have told you.
I do not think that I am making myself less acceptable to you by letting you know about our way of life. I have often born witness of my satisfaction to our good Father. I say to him that the first ones we have to sanctify, after ourselves, are our Brothers. They are good workers, we agree, but they do not all have the religious spirit that we would wish of them: besides, these ones are numerous. If then each one was left to his own devices what would happen to us. But on the contrary, if we always have a well regulated community where God is well served ….. Is it not important, is it not a thousand times more so, than if we converted a whole island whilst forgetting about ourselves. Our Father has thus made a simple organisation by which we live in our community: it is easy, suited to the climate and to the work of our Brothers; but conscientiously observed, it suffices to keep us happy and virtuous and piously obedient. Arise, meditate, holy mass, meal, personal contemplation, scripture reading, go to bed, everyone does the same and is regulated by the sounding of a bell that rings a first peal to announce the end of work and a second, five minutes later, to give the signal for the beginning of worship. Our controller is Brother Malet: [2] He carries out his task conscientiously. Meal times are blessed with readings.
Please accept, my very dear Father, the sincere expression of affection from your obedient and devoted son,
missionary priest.
Post script. Allow me, my Reverend Father, to attach to your letter a few words for the Reverend Father Maîtrepierre. I only take this liberty so as to write a double letter to both of you without you having to pay a double postage. [3]


  1. [note from the author in the margin] Note Well. My letter having been written before the return of our Fathers from Uvea, it needs to be completely modified. — Excuse a child who knows very well that he is writing to a father.
  2. Brother Aimé Mallet
  3. It certainly seems that the “few words” that Gagniére wrote to Maîtrepierre were written on the other half of the sheet of paper which, no doubt detached at the time, has not been conserved at APM.

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