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26 August 1854 - Father Pierre Michel to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Fiji

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, December 2015

Hewa, 26 August 1854

Very Reverend Father,
I would like to have nothing but good news to send you; I would consider myself very happy to be able to inform you that the people of Viti were beginning to be converted, but that’s not the case. Far from wanting to leave the darkness which envelops them, some are doing their best to remain there forever and others throw themselves with abandon into the nets of heresy. Bau, the Paris of Viti, is actually all Methodist. Even Reva, after playing around with us for three years, is again receiving Anglicans into its midst. Lakemba is still in the same situation: recently the two Fathers, who have held this post for ten years, began to make moves to pull up sticks, but the boat they were expecting to take them has let them down.
Somosomo is no longer. Ovalau alone is giving signs of life at present: we are praying that this does not indicate a scrub fire. I am still at Heva with Father Mathieu. So far we haven’t any proselyte, and there is every indication that we won’t have any in the near future. It was the reign of Nero at Somosomo, here it’s the shrewd politics of Julien the apostate. It is totally forbidden to believe us. Every time we try to speak of religion, they begin to shout at us with pride: “If Jehovah, whom the French adore, is the only true God that we must adore, let him come and bombard ours: if he wins, then we will see which side we should take.”
That’s Viti for you: if you want to overcome it, show them you are superior; if you can’t do that, it’s impossible to do anything. Convinced as we all are that this is the truth, we continually implore the Almighty to show Himself somehow or another to this wretched people who will never be able to reach the true Light without a show of Divine might. But alas! What can the feeble prayers of six poor missionaries do, obliged as they are to struggle night and day against themselves, against the world and the hell that roams and roars around them, ever ready to devour them…
We need you, Very Reverend Father, we need the help of your fervent prayers, we need your lights and counsels; we need to hear from you, we need your letters; we need the help of all of our dear Society. Have we no longer any brothers, would we be orphans by mischance!!! What will become of the little child if its mother and father do not support it? – It’s three years now since we have been among the cannibals, and we still haven’t seen our chief. For six years now I have fought under the banner of the Society of Mary, and I haven’t received a single word of encouragement. It’s probably because I have fought like a coward. Ah well, please, send me the punishment I deserve and I promise to distinguish myself henceforth among the brave. Forgive me, Very Reverend Father, if I raise my voice somewhat; one little word, illumined by your gentleness and marvellous charity, would be enough to return me immediately to my duty, because I am always your very humble and very obedient servant,
Pierre Michel, Marist
I am adding to this a little letter for my brother; you can read it; perhaps you might find there a few details that you would like to have about Viti-Levu.