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11 July 1848 — Father Jean-Pierre Frémont to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Rook

Translated by Mary Williamson, October 2017

Based on the document sent, APM OMM 208.

Sheet of “Bath” paper, folded to form four pages, two of which are written on, the third remaining blank and the fourth having only the address and Poupinel’s annotation.

To the Reverend Father Colin / Superior of the Society of Mary / in Lyon.

[in Poupinel’s handwriting]
Island of Rook 11th July 1848 / Father Frémont to the Reverend Father Superior General

Island of Rook, Port Saint Isadore 11th July 1848

My Very Reverend Father,
I am like the knights errant: I do nothing but pass from one island to another. If this style of life continues, I am going to finish up knowing a multitude of languages, because in each of the islands that we have seen up till now, the languages are different. I am writing to you from the island of Rook where I have been for a few days. From this island, situated in the Dampilerne strait, [1] we can see New Guinea and New Britain. Ha! If only we could transport our bodies as easily as we can in spirit. If we knew the language and if they wished to listen to us, we would soon be able to infiltrate these vast lands. But the day will perhaps come when you will learn that happy news, as we are given to understand that our islanders communicate with those of New Guinea. God, who directs all things, will no doubt provide the means, if this is within his providential plans.
On Woodlark, we have left Father Montrouzier and Father Thomassin, with Brothers Genade and Aristide whilst Bishop Collomb, who has come to guide us, intends to return there. Father Montrouzier, being provincial, I have left him with the title of sub-provincial.
At the moment of writing to you, the health of the Bishop is causing us serious concerns. All food causes him discomfort. He cannot nourish himself, and needs the help of a doctor. If God does not take pity on us, I do not know how we will be able to support him. But in the end, God is the Master; we labour on his works, it is for him to treat us as he sees fit. For myself, I only wish for the gift of being able to bless His name in all things.
I am remaining on Rook with Father Villien and Brother Optat. I have become accustomed to the fever. I consider it as a companion that God has given me. Nevertheless, it is less frequent and less virulent since I left Muilla. [2] Father Villien and Brother Optat are keeping very well; they seem content with their lot; piety sustains them. We are hoping that all the trials that we endured up till now and those that we still expect, are the means employed by God to establish his church in these lands of infidels.
At the moment we cannot yet utter a single word about religion to our poor savages. But just a few more weeks and, if God gives us his help, we will be able to speak to them about Him and his works. So, I commend myself, my Reverend Father, as well as our mission, to your prayers and holy masses and also to those of the Society. I cling to that Society in heart and mind and I console myself that it is my mother and I am its child. It is with these sentiments that I beg you, my Reverend Father, to look upon me always as your most unworthy and yet very affectionate son in Jesus and Mary.


  1. Read: Dampier. For William Dampier who discovered it in 1700 (cf. Sharp, p. 92) and gave the name of Rook to the island of Umboi, in honour of Sir George Rook (cf. Brigham, p. 139).
  2. Perhaps Makira or Murua: (1) Makira is the name of the bay where the mission was established for a certain length of time on the island of San Christobal and that Frémont left in 1847 to spend several months on (2) the island of Murua, the native name for the island of Woodlark (cf. Pacific Islands, vol. 4, p. 290, 293); but this identification remains uncertain.

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