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25 October 1850 — Bishop Guillaume Douarre to Marie-Louise Boutarel, Sydney

Translated by Peter McConnell, January 2011

Sydney, 25 October 1850
My dearest daughter in Jesus Christ,
You have suffered a equally deep and more painful wound yet before the first wound has healed. It was not by accident that you chose a name which, according to the hidden plans of Divine Providence was a warning of suffering and trials which were assigned to you. Who knows yet what tribulations you shall be subjected to? Only He who said to us, “Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will comfort you.” So be brave, my child, you need courage, patience and resignation too. You need all those qualities: you will suffer, your heart will be broken by sorrow; you are alone in the middle of the world and in some way you are now a foreigner in its midst; and if you did not have that faith which consoles you right now by its certainty that that loss would be only transitory, I would tell you that you were very unhappy. And how could it not be when one loses one’s parents? A father and a mother, such as our dear departed, are they replaced? No. So a person tested in that way becomes resigned but he suffers. He sees only the void around him; his friends are certainly able to bring him some comfort in his time of sorrow, to calm him a little; to make the sadness disappear, never! I too, my dear child, don’t intend to try to console you, but I want to weep with you for that worthy father who loved me as his child. You told me that so very often and he gave me many proofs of it. Yet that death while distressing your heart should be very consoling for you as a Christian because he died a holy death. You saw him, that good and so pious a father, passionately fulfilling all his duties as a Christian; I envied his passion; More than I, you witnessed his trust in Our Lady and you know that the servants of that good mother will not lose their souls. But, I am forgetting myself, my dearest child, you certainly have no doubts about that --- the good fortune which that good father enjoyed with God, that is something which prevents poor human nature from suffering and you have the impression that I am trying to remove from your heart all those feelings of regret, such as they are. So weep for those good parents; weep for them, but with the tears of a pious soul, a soul which does not want anything else but God’s sacred will. It’s now that you will be able to say more truthfully than ever before, our father who is in heaven, you have nothing more now than the one whose total tenderness you know. It is today that you are truly the child of Mary, because there is nothing more on earth for you now. You poor orphan! If only the hearts of your friends, if only their tender fondness, could replace those who merit your tears so much; but I repeat parents like those whom you have lost can’t be replaced and nothing on earth can make you forget such a loss. Dearest child, I have only prayers for your parents and I can assure you that they are ever present in my prayers for the dead. Also I have a heart which knew and which continues to know suffering; you know that I could not be unmoved, after all you have done for my desolate mission station, by what happens to you good or bad and if while sharing your grief it could be a comfort for you so that if you are not happy at least you will be a little less unhappy.
What will you do? What will become of you? I am asking so many questions. Will you stay in Pontgibaud or else will you go and settle elsewhere? I am too far away to be able to advise you, while wanting to see you continuing that work which has brought you so many heartbreaks.
I could tell you so much concerning my own situation. My cup runneth over. Perhaps God who strengthened my weakness will manage me if not with less burdensome days at least with a little less sad ones than those which I have encountered since my leaving France. I have neglected nothing for the return to New Caledonia. On two occasions I sent 65 New Caledonians to Futuna, among whom almost all of our enemies. Fathers Rougeyron and Gangières are in charge and as soon as they have been taught sufficiently, they will return to Balade where I hope passionately to return although six Anglican bishops, who have gathered right now in a synod at Sydney, may be on the verge of sending an army of missionaries to the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands.
When you receive my letter, New Caledonia will be either English of French and more likely English. Warships belonging to both nations are here, I believe, with the intention of taking possession of the country. The poor country, what will become of it?
My dearest child, I would like to chat for a long time with you, to share with you all my troubles, but a migraine does not allow it. I have attempted to finish this letter several times without succeeding. My heart is heavy with my suffering even heavier than yours and gives me only tears and not a word of consolation for you. I found out in this situation that being exiled albeit voluntarily, could become at times a little painful and that idea upsets me and would have upset me had I not known your spirit of faith, sacrifice and prayer. I learnt that while meditating on the death of your worthy parents that you would have stopped gazing on Mary to contemplate her Divine Son who died for us, and that the sight of that heart broken mother will have done us some good. So I finish this letter repeating the qualities of patience, courage and resignation, our life is nearing its end. Soon we will wait for the conclusion and be reunited with those whom we loved on earth; we will not leave them again. It is in this happy resting place that I hope to find all those who are dear to me. Ask God for my salvation; offer him on my behalf some of your sufferings. Not a day goes by that I do not think of you and of your dear departed. I assure you that I will not forget them less than ever and now especially. I hope that you will often give me news about yourself; I enjoy them so much. Goodbye, poor orphan and dearest daughter. Always do the best you can, listen to your brain a lot and not so much your heart in the good works which you do, that is don’t deprive yourself of everything. Give my regards to Miss Bargheon!
Ever yours in Jesus and Mary
+G(uillaume), bishop of Amata
Vicar Apostolic of New Caledonia