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26 September 1853 — Father Pierre Rougeyron to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Balade, New Caledonia

Translated by Peter McConnell, July 2011

Based on the document sent, APM ONC 208 Rougeyron.

[p. 4]
By the Wolloomooloo § France § Monsieur § Monsieur Colin, supérieur des Maristes § Montée s(ain)t Barthélemy no 4 § Lyon

SYDNEY FE 22 1854 N S W — GO 12 JU 12 1854 — COLONIES &c.ART.13. — ANGL. 13 JUIN 54 CALAIS — PARIS 13 JUIN 54 (60) — LYON 14 JUIN 54 (68)
[In the handwriting of Poupinel]
Balade, 26 September 1853 § Fr Rougeyron
[p. 1, at the bottom of the page]
[Short Address]
To the superior General

[p. 1]
Balade, 26 September 1853
Very Reverend Father,
A great event has just taken place in New Caledonia. The eastern island, to our great surprise, has become a French possession. For two days we have seen the national flag fluttering in our tribe. We have a large steamship with the admiral on board. Two other large ships are to arrive some days hence. Today the admiral is leaving for the Isle of Pines to raise the flag here.
Here we are then, Reverend Father, in a French colony; it seems certain that our wretched island was about to fall into the hands of the English, had the French not hastened to take possession of it. New Caledonia, from what the admiral has assured us, has been chosen by the emperor as an important colony. The costs must be accordingly. The admiral received his orders directly from Napoléon. His Majesty spoke of the mission station in the most kindly fashion and has recommended being on good terms with Bishop Douarre in all matters and for all matters. Because the bishop is not here, what should we do? Very Reverend Father, be so good as to map out our policy which we are to hold fast to in our new situation. We have done nothing for or against; we have kept out of politics, which is not within our competence; besides the admiral has not consulted with us on that matter. When he arrived he told us that he had orders from Napoléon III to take possession of New Caledonia. We went along with that. That’s all. We were happy to give the best welcome to those gentlemen and to give them information they ought for that purpose.
The admiral told us that a large number of missionaries was needed for the colony and for the natives who can be assuaged only by us. See, Very Reverend Father, what you have to do in that regard; do work in with His Majesty the Emperor!
Outside the colony, we would need missionaries as soon as possible. There are five tribes who sincerely want us and have done for a long time. What has just happened in New Caledonia calls out for the prompt presence of missionaries in those tribes.
Very Reverend Father, as I wrote to you recently about the mission station in a very long letter, I won’t say anything more about it in this letter which I am writing in haste. Everything is going well for the moment in the mission station. We are all very much of one mind.
You understand, very Reverend Father, that the present state of our island now requires a leader of the mission station, a priest who stands out in all regards. Facing the great authorities of our nation, a priest of average ability would be the wrong choice and would harm the good of the mission station and of the church.
As for me, I find nothing which suits me in the post which I hold for the moment, and for the good of the vicariate, I beg you, very Reverend Father, to release me as soon as possible from a position which could not fail to crush me. I am now more than ever unable to be head of the mission station. Although a mere missionary, I will not give up working as hard as I can for the mission station and render the apostolic vicar all the services that are in my power;--- being in a position which suits me, I will work, I hope, more effectively for the salvation of the next man and for my own salvation.
It is with these sentiments that I have the honour of being
your very respectful and devoted child,
Marist priest.