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10 May 1854 - Father Antoine Séon to Father Luis Rozet, Wellington

The recipient, Louis Rozet, former missionary in New Zealand, returned to France in 1853; he made profession in the Society of Mary in Lyon, 10 September 1854. [1]

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, August 2014.

Wellington – River Hutt 10 May 1854

To Reverend Father Rozet

Reverend Father
I received through Rev. Fr. Rocher the 150 masses that you sent me. He tells me you must have written to me about this. As I have not yet received any letter from you about it, I am waiting to see if it still comes. These masses will be faithfully offered; thank you. They are welcome although I was not expecting them, but they will still be useful.
Since the letter which I wrote to you after you left Melbourne, and which I see you received, I have had another from Fr Orourck[2] in which he wanted to know what had happened to his first one, because he had heard of your departure. I reassured him about this. He did not stay very long after that with Bishop Pompallier. He is in Melbourne now. Fr Cums[3] has remained in the diocese of Sydney. So the Bishop only has Fr Magdonal[4] with him. The Saint Mary College is closed. [5] His Lordship has bought 300 acres of land and some buildings for £1100 near Freeman’s Bay (Auckland) to open a college for the whites. Your library and room are still in good condition. Bishop Pompallier has been able to get some Canadian laymen who are teachers. He dines there every day. Mr Magdonal goes there to do something at ten in the morning. All that has not inspired much confidence in the parents. Priests[6] and the Bishop in Auckland, Fr Fynes at Howick, [7] Fr Claret at Onehunga, [8] 2 priests in Waikato, [9] 2 the same at Opotiki. [10] That’s the whole of Bishop Pompallier’s diocese.
Rev. Fr. Garin came back 5 days ago from an apostolic visit that Bishop Viard had him do – after the orders from Propaganda. [11] All that I have been able to understand from his important mission is that the diocese is in a very sad way.
As for the parish of the Hutt, it is still more or less as you left it. We have been two for the last 4 Sundays. Fr Forest has returned from Nelson. He is much better. However he is not as he was. He talks a lot about going to Sydney for the winter. He is only waiting for a big boat. He preached several times in Nelson, and here at Easter. You wouldn’t have thought he was sick.
Fr Garin is going back to Nelson. Bishop Viard was afraid of seeing Fr Forest return there for fear that he would want to choose that place to found a house for the Society.
Brother Luke was not happy here. He has gone to Hobart-Town. [12] Fr Comte[13] has left Otaki for good. However Bishop Viard has got him to wait a bit longer. He is to come and say mass at the Hutt while I make a trip to (--), Manawatu, [14] etc. for those who haven’t made their Easter duties yet. I leave next Monday, 15 May.
In case you have written to me, and your letter needs another reply, I will do it; if not, take this one as a reply to your letter which should have come.
Pray for us. I wish you a prompt and happy return. May peace, tranquillity of soul be the fruit of your journey, finally may the work of God, so long wanting, be raised up to go forward and repair the irreparable losses it has so far suffered. I say irreparable… I see them as such in New Zealand with regard to human efforts. Only God can make amends, if we show ourselves worthy. All yours, my dear Father.
Antoine J. Séon


  1. Cf. « La vie missionnaire du P. Rozet », n° 10, in Pax (monthly bulletin of the parish of Saint-Martin-en-Coailleux, 1938-1939) (APM dossier Rozet).
  2. Timothy O’Rourke from Kerry in Ireland, in minor orders when he left, arrived with Pompallier in Auckland 2 April 1850, ordained priest 8 December 1850; Pompallier sent him to Maketu (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 11-13, 39, 44).
  3. Francis Kums, from Malines in Belgium, seminarian when he left, arrived in Auckland with Pompallier 8 April 1850; he spent the rest of the year1850 at North Shore College (seminary established by Pompallier near Auckland), then was given direction of the college, and was finally ordained priest in December 1851; he was sent to Rotorua (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 11-13, 39, 43-44).
  4. James MacDonald, from Ireland, ordained in 1851, arrived in Auckland 9 March 1852; Pompallier sent him first to North Shore, then to Auckland in 1853 and named him vicar general. He would become known for his great devotion to the Maori (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p.43-44, 52).
  5. The Saint Mary college, North Shore, was begun in 1849 under the direction of Louis Rozet. In 1851 it was made into the seminary for the formation of the seminarians Francis Kums, John Breen, and Hilarion Dale. Saint Mary’s College, North Shore, was transferred to a property next to Mount Saint Mary’s on the point to the west of Freeman’s Bay. Nevertheless the name of St Mary’s College continued to be given to the establishment at Takapuna (North Shore), so that the institution found itself in two places, North Shore and Freeman’s bay. The college at Freeman’s Bay was the seminary and the school for catechists, as well as a boarding school for Maori boys; this college remained at Freeman’s Bay until 1869. (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p.34, 39, 43, 45)
  6. James McDonald was transferred to the cathedral church of Saint Patrick in Auckland in 1853 (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p.43-44)
  7. The priest Henry Fynes was sent by Pompallier to Howick near Auckland in 1853; he replaced Louis Raynaud who had returned to France in April 1852 (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 43-44).
  8. Read Clery, Onehunga. Edward Clery was recruited by Pompallier from the All Hallows seminary in Dublin in 1849; he was in minor orders when he arrived in Auckland 8 April 1850; Pompallier ordained him priest 8 December 1850, then sent him to Onehunga, where Clery opened a new wooden church 5 October 1851 (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 10-11, 39, 43-44).
  9. After the departure of the Marist missionary Jean Pezant from Rangiaowhia in the district of Waikato (see his long account, doc. 866), Joseph Garavel came to replace him and had great success continuing what Pezant had started, the Catholic population of this station reaching 5000; Pompallier viewed him favourably and, in 1859, named him vicar forane to the Maori missions (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 47-48; see also mention of him by Garin, doc. 1321, §38, 43-45). The second priest is Francis Kums who was at Rotorua, also in the Waikato district. (cf. above, §2, n. 3).
  10. Jean-Louis Segala, French, came from Mende, arrived in Auckland with Pompallier 8 April 1850 and ordained shortly after by Pompallier; He was sent to Opotiki the same year and stayed there until 1856 when he was called to Auckland by his bishop to direct St Mary’s College at Freeman’s Bay (cf. Simmons, , p. 11-13. 39, 47). The second priest is certainly Jean (John) Alletag, in charge of Whakatane (about 30kms west of Opotiki); the latter, originally from Freiburg, in minor orders when he left, arrived with Pompallier in Auckland 8 April 1850; ordained soon after, he was sent first to the Bay of Islands, but in 1851 was named to Whakatane (cf. Simmons, Cruce, p. 11-13, 39, 42, 47)
  11. After numerous complaints against Pompallier by several diocesan priests and the Marist missionary Louis-Maxime Petit, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide asked Viard to make enquiries about these them. This was when Viard called Antoine Garin to Wellington to confide to him the mission of making this enquiry by listening to what the priests and lay persons of the diocese of Auckland had to say. After Garin’s investigation, Viard made his report 25 March 18854 under three headings: (1) temporal administration, (2) intemperate use of wine and liqueurs, (3) imprudent behaviour towards religious women. According to Simmons, the accusations were rather exaggerated (Simmons, Cruce, p. 48-51)
  12. Brother Luc Macé left for Hobart in Tasmania on board the brigantine Mumford, on Thursday 23 March 1854 (according to the Journal of Viard, vol. 2 (1849-1854), p.103, cited in Bourtot, Coadjutor Brothers, p.249). It seems that he left religious life; his family were without news of him in 1860 (Bourtot, Coadjutor Brothers, p.248).
  13. Jean-Baptiste Comte left the Society during 1853 (cf. Societatis Mariae, Liber religiosarῦ professionῦ [Register of Professions], t. 1, p. 2, n. 35).
  14. Manawatu is the name of a region on the western side of the southern part of the North Island of New Zealand. Nowadays, Palmerston North is its main town (cf. Encyclopaedia of NZ , vol. 2, p. 391)