Letters of Marcellin – 008

Marcellin Champagnat

1827

to convince him that it is impossible to lower the Brothers salary.

Rough draft, AFM, 132.2, pp. 172-173, published in Abrégé des Annales, pp. 129-130.

This text is no doubt a reply to a letter from the mayor, asking the Founder to reduce the salary of the three brothers in Bourg-Argental. Brother Avit, in Abrégé des Annales, p. 129, believes on the contrary that it was a letter from Father Verdier, the parish priest, which provoked this reply to the mayor. It is difficult to maintain that interpretation, for several reasons. The letter from the parish priest speaks about the threat of the withdrawal of the third brother, not about their salary. It is dated 10th May 1833. Now, Bro. Avit wrote in the annals of Bourg-Argental that the salary was not paid in full until 1832. This contradiction justifies our questioning both the information and the date he gives for this letter. So we do not believe that the parish priest was involved here; Father Champagnat is giving a direct answer to the person who wrote to him. The only indication we have as to the date is the place the text occupies in the notebook from which we took it. It comes between the letter to Fr. Barou (L. 7) and the one to the parish priests of Annecy (L. 9). At the beginning of the latter, we find in the margin the crossed-out words: April 1828. Not a very solid indication, but made probable by the fact that the next letter (L. 11), to Fr. Cattet, is dated 18th December 1828. Consequently, we will hold to an approximate dating: the end of 1827.

Letter to the mayor of Bourg-Argental,

The sum of twelve hundred francs is already little enough to meet the expenses of the upkeep of three brothers in a town. To reduce it still more would be, it seems to me, to snatch away from them, not only the miserable salary attached to the most thankless and difficult job of any citizen, but even their poor and unappetizing food. All the towns where we have three brothers pay twelve hundred francs. Boulieu, Ampuis, Neuville-lArchevĂŞque, Charlieu, Mornant, St-Paul-en-Jarret, all pay that amount.

To satisfy your request, we can put the school in your town on the same footing as that of St-Sauveur, at one thousand francs for three brothers during the winter and two during the summer. But, you know that the Brothers of the Christian Schools are paid at the rate of six hundred francs apiece. However, with them, as with us, there is one man who only does the cooking. Nevertheless, we have cut back to two-thirds of what no one begrudges them. The worthy Brothers of the Christian Schools also demand, over and above a suitable building, sixteen hundred francs the first year for the Mother-house, three thousand francs for the furniture which belongs to them after three years, and eighteen hundred annually, a sum doubtless recognized as absolutely necessary, while all we ask, besides lodging, is twelve hundred francs annually and fifteen hundred for a little furniture, a sum which Bourg-Argental has never given us.

I leave it to your wisdom and the goodness of your heart to judge whether it would not be cruel to reduce that amount. I will show your letter to the Prefect, who promised me that he would take an interest in the poor towns.

Please accept the assurance of the respectful consideration with which I have the honor to be, Mister Mayor….

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 le brouillon AFM 132.2 pp. 172-173; édité dans AAA pp. 129-130

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