Br Marie-Nizier (Jean-Marie Delorme) to Fr Jean-Claude Colin, Futuna, 8 December 1851
APM OW 208 Delorme, Marie-Nizier
Clisby Letter 95. Girard doc. 1099
Introduction and translation Br Edward Clisby FMS
This letter was despatched on the mission schooner, Etoile du Matin, transporting the little colony of New Caledonian converts back to their native land. Servant says that these converts, coming from two different tribes, had formed an alliance strong enough to face the challenges of implanting the mission anew on the main island. And the Marists were not to be disappointed. “For some time later we learned that their mission continued despite the disappointment of a few individuals relapsing into savagery on their return to their native land (ES 305).
Earlier, in August, the Etoile du Matin had also carried Mathieu and Augustin away to Fiji. With both Joseph and Augustin gone, Marie-Nizier was once more the only brother on Futuna. But now he had the establishment at Kolopelu to serve as well as the two parishes.
In describing the ex-king Petelo’s approaches to the Protestants and the probable consequences , Marie-Nizier has in mind the troubles already caused on Wallis by political rivalries and religious divisions (rf eg L 70). Wesleyan converts from Tonga and Wallis had also earlier tried to gain a foothold on Futuna (L 49).
About half the letter is again devoted to his requests for books. The reasons for their delay in reaching him he has already referred to (eg Letters 86 and 93). Of the examples cited, he had asked for a Belley catechism as early as 1844 (L 51) and a treatise on medicine as late as 1849 (L 81). He obviously kept a list of requests since he was able to send an updated copy of what was missing with the letter. It has not survived. His next letter to mention them is dated 11 November 1859. Presumably some more reached him in the years intervening.
This letter, translated from the collection of copies in the AFM, is No 23 in Ronzon’s edition (pp 82-3).
Text of the Letter
- Very Reverend Father,
- In conformity with the express recommendation you made in your letter of 1848 to write to you as often as possible, I let no opportunity pass, I believe, of the ones I can take advantage of, without carrying out my duty in this respect. It is a pleasure for me, as I think I told you earlier. If my letters cannot satisfy your desire for interesting items of news, they will, at least, give proof of my good will.
- The departure today of the Fathers of the Vicariate of Caledonia provides me with a fresh opportunity. The good Fathers are leaving Futuna with their colony of new Christians whom they have been instructing here for the most part. It would be hard to describe the zeal, ardour, charity they have shown, and with which they have worked to form their poor converts in the practice of Christian virtues. May heaven bless such dedication, trials and labour! Among the converts are some who were once persecutors of their missionaries in Caledonia. May they persevere in the good sentiments with which they appeat to be animated, and contribute also to the conversion of their compatriots when they return among them!
- The former king Petelo is far from being converted. There is a rumour he has asked for Protestant ministers and has received a reply that some will soon be coming. What unbelievable damage he would do if he were still king. May the good God preserve this island from the threatened plague and thwart the designs of the wicked by causing their audacious projects to fail to their confusion. May the Father of the family not allow this little branch of his vine to be trampled underfoot by his enemies. Oh! May the reverend Father Chanel obtain by his prayers the grace that the island which was the scene of his triumph may not become the stage for heresy. It has been the cause of so much misery in the different islands of Oceania where it has already, unfortunately, planted its standard of disobedience and revolt.
- Since Monsignor left on the 28th of August last I am once more the only Brother on Futuna. As in the past, I have to travel from one side of the island to the other. Looking after the linen of three stations and as many sacristies is once more my responsibility. My other employments of various kinds are numerous enough, so I am not short of work any more than I was previously, provided the good God keeps me in sound health. Although my health is not very strong, it is not bad at present.
- As I was in a hurry when writing to you last August, I can’t remember exactly what I said to you, especially in my PS. I am returning to this latter to ask you for some clarification. First of all, I would like to thank you very much for the books I received recently. They are some of the ones I asked you for in 1847.
- At the date of my last letter, all I knew was that some books had arrived for me, for they had been left at a station more than two leagues away from the one where I was at the time. I didn’t know at all whether all the ones I had asked for had been sent and I had some doubts. My doubts arouse from the following. I was told they had been brought for me, and also that the people on Wallis had made a selection of the ones they wanted... On calling in I found only these: The Catechisms of Charancy and Belley, The Dignities, Praises and Virtues of Mary, The Life of the Blessed Virgin, Holy Thoughts, History of the Faith. It would seem unlikely, however, that you would have sent me only the ones I received. But, very reverend Father, if the others have been sent I despair of ever receiving them, for once they have been landed in a place, I believe it would be impossible for me to retrieve them. That is why I am including here the continuation of my list of earlier requests for things which have not reached me.
- I am renewing requests only for those you would have approved. If you grant me this favour, I ask you to be kind enough to have them carefully set apart and addressed to me personally, for they could take a roundabout route. Despite my boldness in repeating my requests, they are still, as in the past, entirely subject to your approval. I think I gave you before the reasons impelling me to ask for medical supplies and a good treatise of medicine. They are still relevant, for more than once serious cases have had us looking helplessly at one another, and the Fathers have anxiously asked me: Haven’t you any medical books at all?
- I don’t at all think you forget me, but it’s a consolation for me to recommend myself once more to your good prayers.
- Be so kind, my very reverend Father, as to accept this expression of gratitude and respect with which I have the honour of being
- Your very humble, very submissive and unworthy son in J. and Mary.
- Br Marie Nizier. cat.
- Your very humble, very submissive and unworthy son in J. and Mary.
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