Letters of Marcellin – 013

Marcellin Champagnat


to let him know his opinion of the situation in the school at Charlieu and how to get out of it.

The Bulletin de lInstitut, vol. 22, pp. 96-98, tells how the school in Charlieu was founded by Fr. Courveille. Brother Avit, in the annals of that house (AFM, 213.8, pp. 10-11) continues the story:
The part of the abbey in which the brothers lived belonged to M. Hugand. Whether he did not want them to stay there, or the brothers found it unsuitable, or for some other reason we are not aware of, they had to get out. The major seminary of Lyons owned a house in the city. Fr. Plasse, the treasurer, Fr. Champagnat, and Fr. Terrel, the parish priest, agreed on a leasing arrangement on 8th July 1829...this was properly drawn up..Fr. Plasse, as treasurer, leased to Fr. Terrel and Fr. Champagnat...the entire house in Charlieu which belonged to the seminary. The conditions of the lease were as follows: it was for nine full years (25th December 1829 to 25th December 1838)...the rent was set at 700 francs per year...but in view of the repairs which Fr. Terrel agreed to have done on the house, the rent for the first year was reduced to 600 francs...
the lease was signed by Fr. Plasse and Fr. Champagnat.
Its strange that Fr. Terrel, who committed himself to pay the rent, did not sign the document.

Most likely this lease did not completely solve the problem, since there were still repairs to be made. No doubt Fr. Terrel realized that he could not meet his financial obligations. Fr. Champagnat, however, without making any accusations, and even very discreetly, does remind him of them. He is even inclined to make concessions, since he is doubtless still unaware of what Fr. Cattet, the Vicar General, wrote to him on 31st [sic] September 1829: I thought you were too generous in setting the rent for Charlieu (O.M., I, p. 474, doc. 198.3). It is Brother Avit who once again gives us the reason (AA, p. 61): In his eagerness to see that the education of the poor and especially good religious instruction, were spread everywhere, he demanded the lowest possible amount.... However, the matter came before the council of the Archdiocese of Lyons, which on 22nd and 28th October made some decisions about the matter (cf. O.M., I, p. 477, doc. 202 and 203).

The text you are about to read was certainly drawn up after the lease was signed, and probably before Fr. Cattets letter, as we said; therefore, sometime in September. All we have are two rough drafts, two attempts at a letter, which we give in sequence; text B appears to have been written second. We do not know if the letter was finally written. Was that why the archdiocese got involved in the matter? Or was the letter replaced by an appeal to the latter? We have no way of knowing, but we can presume that the whole affair made an impact, in view of the future prosperity of this establishment.



I have just returned from Lyons. I saw everyone I had wanted to see about the situation in Charlieu.

I saw Fr. Cattet, the Vicar General. I told him about the state of affairs in Charlieu. He told me he had not expected there would be all these obstacles, and that we would be overburdened. Fr. Plasse would be willing to take care of the repairs, but then he would want more money.

I think that if the seminary let us take the wood to make the repairs, and if you gave 400 francs, we could make the repairs on the brothers quarters. The Vicar General told me that you had promised that so long as you lived, we would not have to spend any of our money. I thought you should also give the 400 francs needed for the repairs which you set up while negotiating with Mr. Hugand, at the expense of our brothers.

You have already saved money on the brothers quarters, or I should say, on their health, to the tune of 200 francs.



I have just come from Lyons where I saw all the people I wanted to see, concerning the state of affairs in Charlieu.
So I informed Fr. Cattet, Vicar General, of all the obstacles I have encountered in Charlieu. He replied that he had not expected all that, and that we would be too overburdened. Fr. Plasse told me that he would willingly make the planned repairs, but in return he would like to charge more.

I was in an awkward position in Charlieu, and there was nothing I could do about it. If you intend to hold to the agreement made with M. Hugand, then give the four hundred francs you promised, of which you have saved two hundred at the expense of our brothers; then you can count on your school. They think the same in Lyons as we did in Charlieu: that Mr. Hugand is not giving enough in return for what he is getting. Fr. Plasse would like to know, if possible, how high the price of the repairs M. Hugand intends to make might go. To show you my good will, I will contribute, on my part, two hundred francs, in consideration of the garden which our brothers will now have. As for the lease on the house, I intend to continue not to be involved in it.

Fr. SĂ©on or Fr. Bourdin would like to reside in Charlieu under the same conditions Fr. Cantet enjoyed in the past.

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 deux brouillons, AFM, 132.2 . pp 190 et 192


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