Pompallier, Jean Baptiste François
POMPALLIER, JEAN BAPTISTE FRANÇOIS
Missionary bishop in oceania; b. Lyons, France, Dec. 11, 1801; d. Puteaux, near Paris, Dec. 21, 1871. Pompallier, who came from a family of silk manufacturers, was ordained in 1829. In 1836 he was appointed vicar apostolic of the newly created Vicariate Apostolic of Western Oceania, and he sailed from The Havre with the first group of marist fathers to evangelize the Pacific islands. On the way to new zealand, his eventual destination, Bishop Pompallier left Pierre bataillon with one brother on Wallis Island and St. Peter chanel with another brother on nearby Futuna Island. Pompallier, accompanied by one priest and one brother, landed in New Zealand on Jan. 10, 1838.
Despite prolonged Protestant hostility, the vicar apostolic's success was remarkable. Two mission stations existed by January 1840, when British rule was established. In 1841 Pompallier reported about 1,000 Maoris baptized and another 45,000 under instruction. By 1844 there were 12 stations, 16 priests, 11 lay missionaries, 2,166 baptized Maoris, and about 1,400 European Catholics. The vicariate was divided in 1842 when the Vicariate Apostolic of Central Oceania was created, with Bataillon as its first vicar apostolic.
Pompallier visited Rome in 1846. His differences with Marist superiors induced the Holy See in 1848 to divide New Zealand into two dioceses. The Marists were transferred to Port Nicholson (later Wellington) in the south, with Philip Viard, SM, as bishop. Pompallier returned in 1850 with ten secular clerics to head the Diocese of Auckland. Retaining priests was a constant problem; despite fresh recruits, he had only ten in 1859. He returned from Europe in 1860, however, with 20 more. Maori wars during the 1860s and economic depression (1866–67) crippled missionary endeavors. When further support from Europe failed to materialize, Pompallier returned to France and resigned his see (1869). He had an impressive bearing, a winning personality, and a talent for attracting native peoples by his cordiality and respectful manner, but his forte was extension, not consolidation. He was one of the century's leading missionaries.
Bibliography: l. keys, The Life and Times of Bishop Pompallier (Christchurch, N.Z. 1957), with list of Pompallier's pub. works. Fishers of Men, ed. p. t. b. mckeefry (Auckland 1938). j.j. wilson, The Church in New Zealand, v. 1 (Dunedin 1910). j. s.c. dumont d'urville, The Voyage of the Astrolabe, 1840, ed. o. wright (Wellington 1955). h. m. wright, New Zealand, 1769–1840 (Cambridge, Mass. 1959).
[m. w. mulcahy]
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