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June 1854 Father Catherin Servant to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Futuna

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, February 2015.

Very Reverend and dear Superior

First of all, in almost five years I have not received a single word of reply from your reverence or from the Society. Do you no longer have fatherly feelings for us? Was it not your paternal care which sent us to Oceania? Have we lost the right to communicate with our good Society of Mary? Do you not know that our sole consolation in this distant world stems from communicating with the Society of Mary? That we have renounced everything to belong? As missionaries we make it our greatest happiness to live and to die in our dear Society. Do not tell us that you cannot and do not wish to improve our lot; for the happiness of your children you must find the means of communicating with us. Did we not make our vows into your hands? We have urged the bishop of Enos [Bataillon] to put us in touch and in union with the Society of Mary; His Lordship promised us that he would do everything possible to succeed in this.
Another source of distress is that subjects are no longer being sent, consequently the stream of pastors is entirely disrupted, so that although the bishop is especially charged with this, there is a terrible consequence for your servant with regard to the Futunans; if one of the fathers should happen to be unable to exercise the holy ministry, will there be no- one to replace him? So must we abandon the Futunans and let them die without the sacraments? Wouldn’t they be right to reproach me saying ‘Why do you abandon us after showing us the path to heaven?’ Wouldn’t it be better to have never come to Oceania?
The business of native priests has not yet succeeded because of the lack of constancy in the Oceanian character. Bishop Bataillon thinks that once they are removed from their environment they would be better able to receive a clerical formation. That is why His Lordship is going to start a college in Sydney. Let us hope this project comes about! But this is for the distant future. Meanwhile we will always need replacements and when there are indigenous priests they will need indigenous priests to guide them. So these are some of the preoccupations of your servant, who is, more than ever,
your most unworthy and devoted son,
PS If God should grant me the health, it is possible that I could continue to devote myself for the salvation of some of the Islands. But, please, union and communication with us!