Page 4, 19th October 1951

19th October 1951
Page 4
Page 4, 19th October 1951 — MISSION TO illOTS ON THE MAP'

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Locations: Firenze, Florence


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The Holy Father's missionary Oceania." Below is the intention for October is " The Church in story of the Marist missions there.

0 N Christmas live, 1836, fOur priests and three brothers of the Society of Nlary—Marist Fathers—set sail from .Le Havre for those numerous dots and splashes on the world map which we call Western Oceania. Earlier in the year this immense mission field had been entrusted to the Society, and now the first missionary hand was setting out under the leadership of a secular priest, Mgr.

Pompallier, the recen t 1 yappointed Vicar Apostolic of the territory.

On the journey one of the priests, Fr. Claud , Bret, died and was buried at sea off the Canary Islands.

The first mission was established on the tiny island of Wallis by Fr. Bataillon, who later became Bishop. The second station was at Futuna, where Fr. Chanel took charge.

In 1841 Fr. Chanel was martyred and is today Blessed Peter Chanel.

The third mission was started in New Zealand, then part of the mission field.

Rapid progress has been made. Today the original Western Oceania now consists of eight vicariates, still under the care of the Wrists.

The vicariate of Wallis and Fatima was begun in 1837.

Wallis was completely converted shortly afterwards.

Futuna was the scene of the martyrdom of Blessed Peter Chanel. The island was completely converted — at the request of the natives themselves—within a few months of the martyr's death.

Fiji Islands

IN the Fiji Islands the first attempts at missionary work were made in 1844.

Enormous difficulties were encountired, particularly from the natives who were far-famed for cannibalism.

The hero of the early days was Fr. Breheret, called Captain Breheret because he seemed to live in his boat, " The Morning Star," in which he sailed from one to the other of his mission's numerous islands.

There is a leper station at Makogai. Already two priests have died of the disease contracted whilst attending the sick. One of them, Fr. Lejeune. died a few weeks ago.

Fiji has today a considerable population of Europeans in the seaboard towns. A new problem has arisen with the large immigration of Indian workers in connection with the sugar refineries and other undertakings: in fact, there are now more Indians than native Fijians.

This year the Maynooth Mission to China is sending 12 priests to help the Marists already there.

Today both islands remain solidly Catholic. The present Vicar Apostolic is Mgr. Poncet, S.M., who for some time taught theology at the Marist Scholasticate in Paignton, Devon.

Seven of Bishop Poncet's clergy are native priests, and there are 33 native sisters and three native laybrothers. For the total population of 8,679 there are also 10 Marist missionaries and three brothers. There is a major seminary and a minor seminary. The vicariate's eight secondary and seven elementary schools

have 2,262 pupils. Seven mission stations are established and there is a hospital and dispensary.

;n the Fiji Islands now there ale 269,274 people. Their young Bishop, Mgr. Victor Foley, S.M., comes from Kent: he was born of Irish parents at Sandgate.

Catholics number 21,411, for whom there are 47 Marist priests and two brothers and 23 mission stations. Children in the 59 elementary and five secondary schools number 5,406, and there are 53 teaching brothers and 230 catechists. These islands also have a minor seminary, a mission hospital and 23 dispensaries, Missionary sisters number 103, and there are 53 native brothers and 92 native sisters.

e Friendly islands' mig-..„‘APTAIN COOK called the Tonga group of islands " The Friendly Islands ": the natives appeared not to be hostile. However, they belied the name later by killing the crews of four ships when they attempted to land. First attempts at missionary activities were made in 1842. For 10 years Fr. Breton lived alone on the island of Vavaii, without regular food or house. He died after having converted hardly a soul. But shortly after his death large conversions ensued.

Today Catholics in the Tonga vicariate number 5,626 in a total population of about 40,000. There are nine Marist missionaries, and three native priests, 10 native brothers, 23 missionary and six native sisters. The 19 elementary and six secondary schools have 1,313 pupils. and there are 70 catechists. Eight mission stations are established and the missionaries run six dispensaries.

North-east of Tonga lies the Samoa vicariate, called by Cook " The Navigators " in testimony of te natives' skill with their boats. The people are a fine type of Polynesian, noted for their oratory. Robert Louis Stevenson, who died in Samoa, paid great tribute to them.

Samoa was the .scene of a struggle between the British and the Germans for its annexation. In spite of attempts by the Samoans themselves, tinder their leader, Mataafa —described as " a great Catholic gentleman "— the islands were divided between the two countries.

After Versailles the German portion was put under the mandate of New Zealand. Part of the group, however, has been held by the U.S.A. since 1899.

Missionary work started in 1845 and has progressed steadily.

Catholics number 20,000 out of a total of 90,000. There are 19 Marist and five native priests, two missionary brothers, 38 Marist and 33 native sisters, 11 teaching brothers, as well as 130 catechists.

Fourteen mission stations have between them a minor seminary, 22 elementary and 23 secondary schools, and 15 dispensaries.

Cannibals still

IN the vicariate of New Caledonia the natives are Negro of a rather debased type. Marists landed here in 1843. Brother 'liaise Marmoiton whose beatification cause has been introduced, was martyred. Twice the missionaries were driven out of the island.

Originally New Caledonia was

a French penal settlement—which did not help mission work. Today it is a free colony. There is a leper station under the care of Marist sisters.

The vicariate has 33,990 Catho lics (total 60,000), 46 Marist priests, 21 teaching brothers, and 224 catechists as well as 95 missionary sisters and 76 native sisters.

There are a major and a minor seminary, 30 mission stations, 56 elementary and 16 secondary schools with 4,883 pupils, a hospital and six dispensaries.

Three missionaries sent to the New Hebrides in 1862 dis appeared without trace. Six years later the Vicar Apostolic of New Caledonia sent four more, and despite the treacherous climate

and the ferocity of the natives— cannibalism exists to this day— headway was made. The New Hebrides vicariate was established in 1904.

Out of about 50.000 inhabitants. Catholics today number 6.799. looked after by 15 Marist missionaries with the help of 54 catechitts, 40 Marist sisters—and

one brother. The 15 elementary and two secondary schools teach 1.130 boys and girls. There are two hospitals and a dispensary.

The Solomons

OF all the lands visited by the

Marists the Solomon Islands presented the greatest difficulties. As soon as 14 missionaries with Bishop Epalle set foot on the island called Ysabel in 1845 they Were attacked. The Bishop was mortally wounded and the rest were driven away.

They returned again and again, hut the numerous deaths--three of the missionaries are known to have been eaten by cannibals— and more fruitful commitments elsewhere resulted in the abandonment of the mission.

In 1898, another attempt was made this time a solid foothold was established, and Marists are there still.

At present there are two vicariates -the North Solomons" and the South Solomons.

The territocy of the North Solomons was virgin soil until 1889. Progress was very slow because of the climate, and the work was hampered by the late war. But now great developments are under way.

The present—he is also the first —Vicar Apostolic is an Ameri can, Mgr. Thomas Wade, S.M, He has 28,921 Catholics in a total population of about 47,000, 33 Marist priests and four brothers, 35 Marist and eight native sisters, and no fewer than 530 catechists. Mission stations number 23, and there are a major and a minor seminary, 25 elementary schools (3,104 pupils), 23 dispensaries and a hospital.

The South Solomons vicariate comprises Ysabel Island, San Crostoval, where the three tenssionaries were killed and eaten, Malaita and Guadalcanal, the last a famous name in the last war.

Here in a total population Catholics number 15,890, of

whom 3,552 are boys and girls at school. There are 27 Marist priests and six brothers, 29 Marist and 13 native sisters, and 238 catechists.

Mission stations number 51, and there are 51 elementary and 19 secondary schools, 15 dispensaries and a hospital.

ANDREA da Firenze's frescoes in S. Maria Novella may not be such high art. or so grand in conception as much that had gone before in Florence. but they are extremely important because they are the first modern and humanist pieces of work. Indeed it is doubtful if they could have been painted but for Dante's writings that had preceded them.

Dante was interested in the wholeness of life. Its passions, its curiosity, its spirituality and its materialism all swarm through his pages, 1 he study of interaction of the higher on the lower feelings of mankind is very evident both in Dante's and in Andrea's work.

Andrea is greatly intrigued by human character as manifested in the human face. but his hands are as nearly as expressive as the features of his faces. Fashion also interested hint; his clothes are rich and magnificent and extremely varied. Animals, too. especially the dalmatian dog (the donrini canes –a play on the word Dominican), all have a part in the great pageant that Andrea has conceived.

Here is a characteristic detail from that great composition which shows the transition from temporal joy to that of eternity. The variously delightful ways of riot getting to Paradise are as much stressed as the right one of penitence.

These pilgrims are set in a summery landscape of hills and

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