Letters of Marcellin – 030

Marcellin Champagnat


Impressed, no doubt, by the Vicar Generals insistence during their meeting on 21st August, Fr. Champagnat had not dared to put forward strongly enough the difficulties he foresaw in the plan to unite his brothers with the Clerics of St. Viator, and he promised to go to Vourles to discuss the matter with Fr. Querbes (cf. OM I, doc. 280, 2). After further reflection and after consulting his confrères, he wrote this letter to admit his repugnance for the idea, and to open his heart with that moving simplicity which he demonstrated in other similar situations (cf. op.cit., doc. 173).

Father Vicar General,

I have still not gone to Vourles, 1º because I have been extremely busy; 2º because I did not think I had been ordered to do so; 3º because I did not clearly understand the situation: I thought I heard you say that Fr. Querbes wanted to become a Marist, in which case I thought it was up to him to make the first move; 4º not a single one of my confrères to whom I spoke approved of my making the journey, and in this matter I do not believe I can take such an important step on my own authority. I do not dare speak to our brothers about this, seeing how the news upset those in Millery when someone imprudently told them about it. At the time when, left all alone after the sad affair of Fr. Courveille and the desertion of Fr. Terraillon, you advised me to speak with Fr. Querbes and to reach an agreement with him, I did see him, but we came to no agreement, as I had the honor to inform you.

In the wake of the most terrible threats for a priest who is draining his strength and his resources, I finally felt calm return with the arrival of Bishop de Pins. Soon new dangers, more terrible than the first, assailed the Little Brothers of Mary. What a disastrous step I took, on the advice of Fr. Superior, I mean when I went to get Fr. Courveille in Epercieux. What an ill-fated day, more than enough to destroy any work which the divine Mary was not upholding with all the strength of her arm. During a long and serious illness, I had major debts hanging over my head, and I wanted to make Fr. Terraillon my sole heir. He refused my legacy, saying that I had nothing, as he and Fr. Courveille kept telling the brothers. The creditors will soon be here to drive you out of the house; all we have to do is take a parish and leave you to yourselves. Finally, God in his mercy, and perhaps in his justice, restored me to health. I reassured my children; I told them not to be afraid, that I would share all their misfortunes and share the last piece of bread with them. Under the circumstances, I could see that neither one nor the other had any fatherly feelings towards my young men. On the other hand, I have absolutely no complaints against the parish priest of Notre-Dame, whose behavior in our house was always edifying.

Though I found myself alone after the withdrawal of Fr. Courveille and the departure of Fr. Terraillon, Mary did not abandon us. We are gradually paying our debts, and other confrères have replaced the first ones. I have to find money for their upkeep all by myself. Mary is helping us, and that is enough.

I am increasing the size of our property both by….

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 132.3, édité en OM 286


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