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30 August 1854 - Father Jan-Louis Rocher to Father Jean-Claude Colin, Sydney

Translated by Sr Marie Challacombe SM, December 2015

Very Reverend Father Colin superior general of the Society of Mary

Sydney 30 August 1854

Very Reverend Father
I hope you have received my letter of July 22 in reply to your esteemed letter of March 18. Since then, nothing extraordinary. For the last fortnight I have been buying food and various articles for New Caledonia. All of these things have been loaded for free on the French steamer Le Prony which left Sydney the day before yesterday. It seems to have been decided that the main town of this new colony will be placed at the very southern tip of the island where there is a magnificent harbour, known today as Port de France. The ground near the harbour is the best for agriculture, and what makes it even better is that charcoal is abundant there.
I asked the captain of Le Prony if he had the brother of Fr Montrouzier on board. He told me that he had a young man of that name, but he thought he was just the nephew of a missionary. This young man never came to Sydney; the captain had left him at Balade with his uncle, if not to say his brother. I have fulfilled Fr Montrouzier’s parents’ commission about his brother, and in writing to Fr Rougeyrin, I told him that you were preparing to send him some missionaries.
Our confreres on Ile des Pins are in good health; and at the end of July Fr Chapuy had still not had an opportunity to go to Caledonia. As for the mission, it is making no progress. The native people are completely indifferent and sometimes they even threaten to chase the missionaries from the island.
I had a letter from our fathers in Savai a week ago, Fathers Vachon and Palazy. They told me that they had a visit from Bishop Bataillon in July and he confirmed 28 native people.
Their schools are still going well and some of the locals write even better than their masters. And the devil is jealous of them and at present the protestant minister is waging open warfare on them to the point where the native people are roused to hunt them off or even to kill them. Fr Vachon says he doesn’t know what will be the result of his efforts. I trust that God will prevent this. The mission is going from strength to strength. At present they have three stations. They are in demand on all sides.
Reverend Father Palazy is keeping fairly well, in spite of his swollen legs which prevent him from busying himself with his ministry as he would like to. Brother Lucien is well.
Bishop Bataillon has left the Navigators. He is doing the rounds on the brig that I sent him last May.
It appears that the native people in Fiji are still at war. A sailor who came in recently from the centre islands told me that our confreres’ building on Lakeba was burnt by the locals; they had not harmed their persons but they were unable to save anything from the fire. He was unable to give me any details of this unfortunate affair, having learnt about it only when he was in the Navigators.
We are all well here in the procure. Only Fr Trapenard is getting more and more melancholic; sometimes he can scarcely answer me. I think he would really like a ministry. Just now I have an opening on Ile des Pins; if I was sure of finding another one from Ile des Pins in Sydney, I would send Fr Trapenard to go and replace Fr Frémont who would be very happy to come to the procure. But as boats from Ile des Pins are very rarely in Sydney, I don’t dare to take on myself being alone for 4 or 5 months.
Still no news and no money for the Italian mission.
Please accept, very reverend father the assurance of my humble respect,
I have the honour of being your very humble and obedient servant,
Marist Priest