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2 February 1853 — Father Jean-Baptiste Petit-Jean to Father Victor Poupinel, Wellington

Translated by Peter McConnell, April 2011

New Zealand

The Day of the Purification

Reverend Father,
I have just sent to His Lordship a note in which I asked France for a quilted overcoat [a raincoat] to replace my coat which I have had for almost fourteen years. Coats are not at all suitable. The sleeved garment which I want and which I will wear over my soutane will keep out the cold and especially the wind which is almost continually violent coming from Cook Strait where we live. Let the collar be broad and able to be turned up so that if I need to I can raise it and so protect my head a little from the wind and rain. It needs to be of heavy material; I think a dark grey would be very suitable. You know my measurements; I have scarcely increased in weight.
In a letter I wrote to you about three months ago, I asked you for six Masses weekly and even counting on your goodness and care I told you that starting from 1 May 1853 I would say or have said six Masses a week for your intentions. I intended to help a family making sacrifices to have one or two of their children to take up religious studies ; they are charming and have much to offer. Everybody talks to me about them and are interested in them. The fact is that at Wellington I am the only Marist missionary who is the most active and of course I am speaking on their behalf. Already Father Garin who has a school of that type in the little town of Nelson has promised me to take one of the children at mate’s rates. He will provide the child with books. I am earnestly begging the very Reverend Father to allow me to do this little favour together with Masses which you, dear colleague, will pass on for me to the Reverend Father Rochet in Sydney, mentioning in particular that he will agree to give me that money. The bishop can do nothing and does not concern himself with that matter for the moment. Usually I offer Masses for the souls in Purgatory or I put them in the heart of Mary; and indeed, if those two children or even one of them became priests, I will dedicate them in my heart to the souls in Purgatory; that is my profound devotion. We are getting old and are looking for and happy to find somebody whom we can regard, as we pass on, as our child and as our spiritual successor.
Pray for me. I am respectfully, Reverend Father, your very humble and very obedient servant,
Jean-Baptiste Petit-Jean
Priest of the Society of Mary
Apostolic missionary
We need to receive before the beginning of each year the ordos for the Society to use; I have had to do my own for the current year.