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Fr Jean-Baptiste Petit-Jean to Fr Victor Poupinel, Auckland, 12 February 1850

Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, February 2006

APM Z 208 12 February 1850

Auckland, 12 February 1850
Reverend Father
Here is a very late reply which I, very much ashamed, dare to present you, to your letter of 28 October 1848. There is, however, a circumstance which lessens my fault. It is that this letter, somehow or other getting into one of the copies of the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith was, unsuspectingly, sent to the Reverend Father Pézant in the Waikato, on the East Coast, from where it did not come back until about the middle of November 1849. I will tell you quite simply that I am extremely grateful for the pious objects that you were so kind as to get for me in the midst of your many problems. Very dear confrère, be consoled, here in the Antipodes I, perhaps, [p2] have no fewer[1] than you.
Almost a year ago I was given responsibility for the most considerable establishment in New Zealand, a college with a farm etc … .[2] Everything seemed to be going along quite well; the government had made some progress, the building which was incontestably the finest in the colony had been finished, [3] already we were gathering harvests and other crops, and now, my very dear confrère, we have to give up everything, put everything into Bishop Pompallier’s hands. May God be blessed – if we have the patience of Job and the obedience of Abraham, the Lord will give us the hundredfold of what we are losing. [4] We believe that at any moment the ship carrying Bishop Pompallier will enter the harbour, because I was told by letter that he left Antwerp on the 10th September.[p3]
The Society in Europe has had a lot of difficulties – we have had to experience a really prickly one – our departure to the South, which has not yet occurred. Up till now it has been impossible for Bishop Viard to leave the Auckland district – particularly because of the College. Father Baty alone left for Port Nicholson about the middle of last December. A special act of Providence had lodgings and a small chapel ready for him quite close to Wellington.
We are relying on our guardian angels – if anyone is devoted to them it is Bishop Viard, who, I have noticed, often says votive Masses in honour of the guardian angels. With all my heart I thank Reverend Father Lagniet for the sympathy he had shown for us in our trials. In this way, in the body of the Society just as in the wider body of Christians, the joys and sufferings are shared – and the sufferings, dear confrère – let us take special note of that last word. We are part of the Church Militant, and even more involved in the battle – happy if the enemy sometimes does not charge, and if we are still well united and well prepared for the fight. Dear friend, pray for me. I entrust you to the hearts of J[esus] and of Mary. There it is that I renew my farewell to you. Your humble servant
J[ean] Bap[tiste] Petit-Jean
Marist priest
Missionary apostolic

[In margin p2]

The newspapers go from Paris to London, and from London to New Zealand, postage paid. As we are here without a newspaper from Europe and the Catholic Gazette in Sydney is defunct, if it was possible, with the permission of Father General, to send me or anyone else, a newspaper, even if they were old… after other people had read them in France, more than one Father would be very grateful.

[In margin p1]

When you have a chance, Reverend Father, please inform my brother-in-law, M Paillasson, that I received his letter of the 17th August 1848, and that I will write soon.


  1. problems - translator’s note
  2. St Mary’s College on the North Shore - translator’s note
  3. This seems to be a reference to St Patrick’s Cathedral, opened in 1848 - translator’s note
  4. Matthew 19:29