Letters of Marcellin – 003

Marcellin Champagnat


to make him aware of a difficult situation.

Original written by Fr. Champagnat, AFM, 132.2, pp. 165-166; OM, 1, pp. 433.434.

The Institute is only ten years old and its foundations are still weak. When the brothers are sent out to the schools they are often still very young and not well trained. The Founder therefore feels it necessary to continue their formation on the spot, which obliges him to visit them frequently. But at the same time, he cannot leave the formation of the young men at the Hermitage, and the financial administration, to the brothers. Since the departure of Fr. Courveille and Fr. Terraillon has left him to deal with all of that single-handedly, the burden has simply become too heavy.

The Father Superior to whom he explains his situation in this letter has to be Fr. Philibert Gardette, rector of the major seminary of Lyons. According to his biography, Fr. Champagnat usually went to him for advice, especially in difficult situations (Life, pp. 112, 116-118).

We do not know if this letter was actually sent, since Brother Jean-Baptiste states that the Founder went to see...Fr.
Gardette...to explain the situation to him (Life, p. 192). In any case, that does not in any way diminish its value for us.

Dear Father Superior,

The great confidence I have in you
I always come to you looking for
I feel very confident in writing to you for some advice and consolation in the midst of my problems. As you no doubt know, I am all alone here. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot take care of everything. I absolutely must visit our schools and see for myself how each of them is getting along; I must also find out from the parish priests whether our brothers are behaving as they should, and whether they have made any dangerous acquaintances. I simply cannot do all that unless I have someone to share the work. There are nearly eighty of us now; at this moment we have at least two thousand children in our schools. It seems to me that all of this ought to count for something.

If it is as important as everyone agrees it is, for young people to have a good religious formation, it is therefore equally important, not only that those who give them that formation receive a good formation themselves, but also that they not be left to their own devices once they are sent out.

No one but me knows the difficulties I am facing. If I were to try to list them for you, I would not even know where to begin; and my fear of adding to your own problems urges me not even to tell you that my debts alone would be a major preoccupation for me.

I will end here by begging you never to forget me in your good prayers, because I see more clearly than ever the truth of what the royal prophet said: If the Lord does not build the house, they labor in vain, etc…..

I assure you, Father Superior, of the complete confidence with which I have….

Edition: Translation from: Lettres de Marcellin J. B. Champagnat (1789-1840) Fondateur de l?Institut des Frères Maristes, présentés par Frère Paul Sester,1985.

fonte: Daprès lautographe AFM, 132.2, pp. 165-166; OM, 1, PP. 433-434


Letters of Marcellin - 282...


Letters of Marcellin - 004...