From Marist Studies
Fr Antoine Garin to Br Florentin (Jean-Baptiste Françon), Kororareka, 18 October 1842
APM Z208 18 Oct 1842
Translated by Fr Brian Quin SM, June 2005
- Kororareka, 18 October 1842
- Dear Brother Florentin
- It has been a long time, dear Brother, since I have had any news of you, at least directly and from yourself. However, I very much want to know about your interior life, all the more because we are more separated from one another. I understand that your position is fairly difficult and that you must sometimes have worries. So I would like to be able to be near you or at least know the state of your conscience, so as to be able to give you advice and counsel appropriate to your needs. How many merits, dear friend, you can gain where you are, merits greater perhaps than if you were among the natives, because it would be preferable to have to suffer on behalf of the savages than on behalf of the rich, and that is precisely what is the subject of your merit. Yes, you are truly a missionary if you know how to profit by your position, because what creates the missionary’s merit is not being in the middle of pagan savages, but having to suffer a lot for the name of J[esus] C[hrist], and I am convinced that you suffer quite a lot, especially interiorly. So be brave! Do not allow the beautiful crown which you have come to find to be snatched from you, and do not delude yourself by thinking you would do better in another position, because you take yourself wherever you go, and if the situation does not bring our faults, the source of them does not exist any the less, so that if certain circumstances arise in this place we have chosen, we would see that we are not worth very much. I don’t want to criticise you, very dear Brother, however I will not hide from you that I have been very saddened to read some words which led me to see that instead of growing in virtue, you were diminishing in it. What a piece of news, dear Brother, and how great would be the sorrow of Reverend Father General if he came to know about it, he who loves you so much, he who bears us all in his heart. Ah, consider it, and consider it seriously. What indeed? Ought you have left your homeland, made the sacrifice of your parents, your friends, your goods, to come and condemn yourself to damnation? Alas, yes, because when you abuse the graces of a vocation like this, you can expect a severe punishment. Do you not have a terrible example in that Brother who, having left the Society here, going hunting on the beautiful day of the feast of the Blessed Virgin, accidentally received from his rifle the shot which caused him to die several days after; he himself said before dying that he had abandoned Mary and that she was punishing him for it on the very day of her feast. Reflect, very dear friend, have pity on your soul, do not make excuses out of circumstances, occasions, or places, because it is not places which sanctify men but rather (it is) men who sanctify places.
- I really hope that you will look a little into yourself, you have… a little time to make the annual eight days’ retreat, do not forget it, make it, and make it well. Read your Rule over again, the letters from Reverend Father General and your good resolutions. A little good will: Peace to men of good will, said the angels, and I heard a professor at the major seminary say, One has only to desire, and one can do everything… If you want to, you can be a good Brother, some efforts and you will soon climb what seems to your to be a mountain, and [p2] once you have got over this mountain, it will seem to you no more than a little hill.
- I have this quiet confidence, and I am going to pray… Father… Mother Mary as well as to the good Angels that they go with this letter, bear it to you and help you to get from it all the benefit that I wish you to get from it.
- Farewell, good Brother, please receive the assurance of the affection and devotion I bear to you.
- Your very devoted and very humble servant
- Garin, Prov[incial] miss[ionary] ap[ostolic]
- Garin is referring to Brother Amon/Ammon (Claude Duperron), who arrived in New Zealand 10 July 1840 and immediately asked to leave the Society of Mary. Bishop Pompallier asked him to delay his final decision, but he left in August and got local employment as a cook. On 8 December 1840, while out hunting, he accidentally shot himself, and died the following day, according to Father Epalle, writing on 12 December 1840 - translator’s note
- Luke 2:14 - translator’s note