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25 October 1850 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, January 2011

Sydney 25October 1850

Very Reverend Father,
I arrived in Sydney five days ago. Brother Joseph Reboule, whom we were unable to cure from malaria on the Isle of Pines, is also at the Procurators’ station in Sydney. I would not have come so soon but I made use of the opportunity that the schooner the Mary Ann returning from Futuna gave me and I would probably not have been able to find such a chance later on. The same schooner will leave for Anatom in four days’ time and will take on board Father Anliard and the two brothers Michel Verrand and Michel Anliard to replace on the Isle of Pines Fathers Chapuy and Vigouroux who are still struggling with malaria and Brother Mallet who, without being sick at the moment, needs a rest. I am sending to that mission station supplies for a year and timber to complete the floor of the granary and the inner walls on the ground floor. If the island is converted to Catholicism, it would be a splendid post; the garden is beautiful and produces plenty; four cows give the missionaries more milk than they need and they will be able to kill some sheep from time to time; I am sending them 26 sheep and some poultry, not wanting them to be treated worse than those at the Procurators’ station where we have plenty of everything.
When I left the Isle of Pines, we had the war corvette the Alcmène in the harbour. A war corvette from Great Britain was at Hienghène with a war schooner from the same country. Brother Jean Taragnat had to go to New Caledonia on board the Alcmène; without that opportunity he would still be in Sydney. He is a young man whose health is ruined and he needs complete rest. The French warship, on its return from New Caledonia, had to return to New Zealand. Brother Jean will take the first opportunity in coming to join me and will tell me whether New Caledonia is English or French and how the inhabitants at Balade are. Father Rougeyron will have written to you, very Reverend Father, to inform you that on two separate occasions he sent to Futuna 65 New Caledonians among whom were almost all of our enemies. When they will be well adjusted and good living Christians, he will take them back to their country. Father Gagnères, who is with him, will learn the language of the Futuna Islanders to go later on, if circumstances permit and if the apostolic vicar is allowed to do it, and start up two mission stations in two of the islands of New Hebrides where that language is spoken. Their inhabitants are descended from the Futunans.
From these details you will be aware that I have neglected nothing of what was in my power to open the door of that wretched country to Catholic missionaries; and you will not be surprised to learn that heresy does everything it can to establish itself there. Even today there is in Sydney a meeting of six Anglican bishops and the newspaper says that the purpose of their meeting is to agree on sending missionaries to the New Hebrides, to the Loyalty Islands, to New Caledonia and finally to the Solomons. It would be impossible not to be shocked by an army provided with all the necessary English material and comfort because requests and subscriptions which will certainly provide a lot of money will take place next Sunday; it will be impossible, I repeat, not to be shocked were we not to reassure ourselves of the righteousness of our cause and the promise of Jesus Christ of being with his Church even to the consummation of the world.
Let’s speak now a little about me, very Reverend Father. From all my letters you must have thought that I was disheartened. Please dispel that idea! It is true that the mission station in New Caledonia offers and will continue to offer all types of difficulties especially if that country becomes English, something that is on the cards. Be that as it may, I have affection only for that wretched race. That affection is not sufficient to do it good; and I emphasize that to you that despite some qualities, I do not believe that God wants to use me for the conversion of those natives; and please allow me, very Reverend Father, to say in all truth that for the good of the vicariate that it is not the right moment to abandon the country. In view of the present circumstances, an apostolic vicar other than I should be chosen and he should be taken not from among my missionaries but from among the other vicars. The present superior of the Procurators’ centre would suit admirably; he is very pious, knows plenty of people and speaks English easily. At the central station Father Calinon would suit equally well and plenty of others whom I do not know. Melanesia has also a distinguished individual in Father Montrouzier; you would not be disappointed in choosing him as my replacement; he would like the missionaries as much as I do and he would not be more caring in all their needs as I am myself, but he would have more talents than I in furthering the improvement and success of the mission station. This thought, very Reverend Father, is not a passing one nor the result of some resentment and of all the trials which I have borne and still have. My spirit is broken by what Father Rocher had made known to you relating to what concerns a priest. No, very Reverend Father, those trials are nothing but I see a lot of good in action. I understand my short comings and that is why I beg you to ponder carefully over all these reasons.
I am not writing to Propaganda Fide to tender my resignation; I don’t want to do that without your consent. In the case of your feeling obliged to accept my reasons and agree to my request, this letter should be enough for his eminence the Cardinal Prefect and should be regarded as a formal renunciation of my vicariate. You know, very Reverend Father, that I have no ambition whatsoever and, if I am called back, I will work as the most insignificant of your children in all that you entrusted to me, as an almoner, missionary or any other job. The wide open spaces really suit me, but above all the greatest glory of God. Do believe that as well as the deepest feelings of veneration and filial love with which I will always be in Jesus and Mary truly yours
+G(uillaume), bishop of Amata,
Vicar Apostolic of New Caledonia.
PS. Thanks a lot to the committees of the Propagation of the Faith for the money that they have allocated me and you too, Reverend Father; I will not misuse it and I will always use it in the interest of my mission station. The money has come all the more timely as our expenses especially for the New Caledonians have been very considerable.