The Annales de la Propagation de la foi newsletter published by the Propagation of the Faith founded in Lyon in 1822 by Pauline Jaricot began to appear in 1822 under the title Annales de l’Association de la Propagation de la foi, Paris-Lyon.
This publication had as its goal to serve as a communications link among the associates and to give them news of the foreign missions. It pages carried especially letters and reports from missionaries which gave historical, ethnographic and religious information. Because of this fact, the Annals were esteemed by the learned and the faithful. It continues to be published in various languages.
Bishop de Mazenod often showed his esteem and gratitude for this work which he called: “the Work of Works,” “the living providence of the foreign missions,” “that admirable Work,” “that great Work… to which no other will ever be able to be compared.” (Oblate Writings, I, vol. 5, p. XXXI) He seems to mention the Annals for the first time in his letters of 1845. On March 18, he sends a note on the foreign missions of the Congregation, and on December 12, two accounts about the Oblates in Canada. In the years that followed, each year he sent letters of Oblates in order to make the Congregation and its works better known.
He sometimes complained that they did not publish everything he sent them. For example, on April 14, 1856, he vigorously expounded on this theme: “The latest number of the Annals once again contains nothing but more or less interesting letters from the missions in China. Aren’t you afraid of overly promoting the Holy Childhood by speaking only of the country which is presented as having to absorb all the funds intended for children, almost as if a large number of these poor, tiny creatures were not baptized in the other missions. I do not feel I am exaggerating in my conviction that I have sent you letters perhaps more edifying than some of those which have received preference in the Annals. Moreover, they possess the merit of diversity. You end up by being bored only hearing about China, Cochin China, and Tonkin.” (Oblate Writings, I, vol. 5, no. 167, p. 281-282)
He sometimes requested of his missionaries letters and reports on their missions with a view to publishing them (e.g., to Father Casimir Aubert in Red River, February 3, 1847; to Father Semeria, January 22, 1852; to Bishop Allard and to Father Barret in South Africa, October 28, 1859, to Bishop A. Taché, July 16, 1860.)
Each year, he sent the list of the names of the Oblates sent to the foreign missions. Very ill and bedridden, on April 10, 1861, he wrote a cover letter to the president of association, sending him a report of the financial needs of the Oblate missions and enclosing a list of at least 20 priests and brothers sent to the missions in 1860. He asks that this material be published “in the next edition of the Annals of the Propagation of the Faith.” (Oblate Writings, I, vol. 5, no. 167, p. 309-311)
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.