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French Marists(?) to departing Missionaries

Translated by M Lindsay, corrected by Fr Gaston Lessard SM


My Reverend Fathers

Before we part, allow us to congratulate you on your good fortune in having been elected to carry the Good News to the distant shores of Oceania. Ah! We are well aware how pleased you are at this choice. You are leaving and so many others remain who will have known of these fine missions of Oceania only the desire to be sent there!

And yet, is it really congratulations that we must offer to men who, driven on by a sublime impulse, are going to carry light and peace to infidel nations? Moved with compassion at seeing those regions where souls still languish in the darkness of idolatry, they have felt impelled by the wish to shed their blood for these poor foreigners.

And why do you go to these remote shores? Is it to defend there the honour of the homeland? Is it to fight in the shadow of the French flag? The eyes of your fellow-citizens, will they be fixed on these distant islands where you are going to spend your life? No, you are leaving only to fight in obscurity, to suffer there perhaps a hideous death without glory, without witnesses, and all that for the eternal happiness of a few unknown savages. Oh! My Fathers, how great your courage is, how admirable your dedication. Allow us to tell you that we admire you!

But before exercising your zeal on these distant shores, there remains a long and difficult path to travel. How many pitfalls have you not yet to fear, dangers to face! If we did not know that the good God was there to guide your skiff, this prospect alone should frighten us. But we shall pray so hard for the ocean star to shine its soft light, that it will guide you safe and sound to the port you wish to reach. Then, when you have arrived in the islands which Providence assigns you, we will pray further that the Lord render fruitful your labours, that he send workers to his vineyard, because, as the Gospel says: The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.

We know that this prayer will please you, because your aim as missionaries is to win for the Lord all the islands of this vast continent of Oceania. Perhaps by praying thus we will obtain for ourselves that which we have asked for others, perhaps we will at last have the good fortune to come and assist you in your difficult work.

So then, my Reverend Fathers, we shall not say adieu but au revoir because we hope that a few of us will be able to come and join you again in these distant islands. Those who do not have this fortune will always remember that they can be of service to the missionaries of Oceania and they will be doubly fervent so that God will render their work fruitful and increase the harvest which they will have obtained by their sweat.

Au revoir then, my Reverend Fathers, here is wishing for many of us in Oceania and for all in heaven where we shall, one day, all be re-united.

Bertrand, A
Calosnel, S
Grand C
Guilliame, P
Henry, S
Hamet, Francois
Lacoste, P
Giden, Antoine
Maning, Jean
Le Vavasseur, SM
Barrier, J
Dauphine, A E
Lacroix, G
Coudert, Antoine
Girand, G
Ollier, Jean
Auberty, S
Mamond, E
Ravez, Jean-Baptiste
Jouzé, P, SM
Rousset, P, SM