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30 August 1853 — Father Catherin Servant to his brother-in-law, Fleury Séon

Translated by Peter McConnell, June 2011

Based on the document sent, APM dossier Servant.

[p. 4]
Monsieur § Monsieur Séon marchant § Grézieu le Marché §Dép(artement) du Rhone § en Francea

[p. 1]
Our Lady of the Martyrs 30 August 1853.
My dear brother,
Here is another chance to write to you; God willing this letter will reach you promptly thanks to the new ways of crossing distances rapidly. I wrote to you last June. I don’t know whether this letter will arrive before the other one. In any case I am going to inform you that the state of sickness and exhaustion that I was in at that time has passed away. Some months of rest which I took at our establishment of the Hermitage brought me back to good health.
I now live on a mountain which is one hundred metric feet above sea level. It is a completely flat mountain where you are completely by yourself. In front and on both sides there are precipitous rocks; there we have a place where we teach children and youngsters numbering eighteen. One of my colleagues is in charge of running the place; he has as well the kindness of being in charge of my parish which is in the valleys near our place. I am calm in my bedroom which you would certainly not disdain because it is completely in the European style. I have a small garden out front; it comprises some local flowers and I have had to add as well balsam, everlasting flowers, night flowering tomato cactus, the ti from Rotuma with its pretty red foliage, acacia, the Futuna rose, lily and moss from the Futuna desert.
But why talk to you about trivial things? Will you believe me? I have just celebrated a jubilee in the parish of Saint Joseph and that lasted a fortnight, morning and night; we all were frightened that we would not be able to get to the end, yet thanks be to God, I managed. The jubilee succeeded; it could not have been better; everybody made his confession and approached the altar for Holy Communion with the exception of two women, relations of the king who was dethroned for bad behaviour and who went into exile to Fiji with some of his mates. I think that in three months time the parish of Notre-Dame will have only the prayers of the jubilee. In the interim I am resting at the settlement; next week I will probably go and get busy dressing some stones to use in our little chapel and then I am going to try out whether the red soil we have will be able to make us some bricks. What a job!, you will see; yes, but we have not reached our target, we are going slowly. If we succeed, what an advantage it will be to cover our chapel and pave it. What an advantage to cover our house which is not roofed except for leaves of a tree which they call pandanus. In this country you have to create everything; get everything you need from overseas; that is very difficult and it is very expensive.
Come on, dear brother, have courage! In this country down here you have to work by the sweat of your brow, but we try to do for God’s sake everything we can; soon perhaps the job will be over. As God wills it. And now you, dear brother, what are you doing? How are the dear nephews and nieces? Do they think of the Goodness of God? Do they love Him? How is my dear Jeannette? And then my good mother, what is she doing? Her health is at least giving her a little trouble. Tell her to put up with the infirmities of old age resignedly, to love God with all her heart, and not to worry about her dear son who is still very happy and cheerful. My dear Françoise, does she often think of her dear brother? May she grow in virtue! May she look after our dear mother for the love of God! May she think often of our final days! Be so good as to renew my sincerest love to my former friends whom you know or whom you have been introduced to. Please, give my respectful greetings to Father Buffard and to Father Blanchard. I will never be able to forget them.
All yours in Jesus and Mary,
my dear brother,
your very humble and very devoted servant,
Apostolic missionary of the Society of Mary.