MARCH 12, 1947
SAN FRANCISCO, Tuesday—A letter from a French missionary in East Africa to the manager of Liberty Carillons, Inc., was recently sent to me in the hope, I think, that I would be touched and would want to accede to the writer's request. No one could help but feel the sincerity of Father Jean Delemer, but I found out that to grant his wish for a church bell would cost $800, even though no profit is made by Carillons. So I have decided to give an opportunity to my readers to join with me, if they are moved to do so, in contributing toward this sum, since I would not feel it right to other interests to which I am pledged to do this alone. Anything above the $800 which I receive will be turned over to the Father for help in education.
The letter comes from the White Fathers of Myaruonga, Bukoba Post Office, Tanganyika, East Africa.
"Dear Sir: I dare to write to you in my bad English (you will not mind, I am a French missionary) that to ask you for a big service. You may see now and then good people who come to buy bells at your store. Some bright day, could you not kindly ask one of them if he would not accept to do a wonderful action and buy two bells instead of one, and spare the second for an unknown, poor, faraway church in the African bush.
"I realize it is rather strange and bold to come to you in such an intrusive and direct manner, asking you for such an unusual commission. Even I am aware you may have little chance to find that splendid Catholic who could and would answer this call.... There are so many distresses all over the world now, also everybody is forgetting us, and for years we find ourselves so sadly unable not only to develop but even to maintain our missionary works. That to call our black folk we have only an odd native drum with an old plate of iron from a petrol tank, not very harmonious you can imagine, but chiefly quite insufficient to be heard by our Christians or catechumens living far away from the mission.
"How miraculous for us and for them if we could ring the 'Angelus' with a real bell! They have never heard and cannot imagine the sweet voice of an 'Ulaya' (European true bell).
"You will pardon me, dear sir, thinking I am not troubling you for myself but for my black children, as ourselves the children of 'Our Father Who art in Heaven.' I am sure your good heart will understand and try to help. Beforehand I dare to tell you my gratitude."
* * *
That letter was two months on the way, and when it came to me, I had to find out how much the cost would be, so another month has elapsed. The casting of the bell will take time. It will be a long time before Father Delemer's bell actually reaches him. I am not a Catholic, but I love the bells from both the Catholic and Protestant churches, and I know that they can give inspiration when the spirit is weary and when human frailty makes one lag in well-doing. Those who try to help the people of Africa deserve our help, for theirs is an unselfish life. I hope you will be moved to give a little of the bell!
(WORLD COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY UNITED FEATURE SYNDICATE, INC.; REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR PART PROHIBITED.)
About this document
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, March 12, 1947
Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007
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