Letters of Marcellin – 131

Marcellin Champagnat

1837-08-09

In a letter which has not been preserved, Mr. Tripier must have updated Fr. Champagnat about a disagreement had which put the brothers and Mr. Tripier at loggerheads with the sisters, who were backed up by Fr. Cattet, the vicar general of Lyons, and Fr. Chirat, the parish priest of Neuville. Here is how Bro. Avit recorded the facts in 1882, in the Annales du Pensionnat de Neuville (AFM, 214.60, pp. 8-9):

The building (called the warehouse) at the east end of the yard, which is presently used by the sisters, was at that time used by the brothers. It contained two classrooms, a large dormitory for the students, and a chapel.... The Sisters of St. Charles, whose house was next door, wanted this building. They went to Fr. Cattet, the vicar general. He, no doubt pressured by the parish priest, Fr. Durand (Bro. Avit is mistaken here, for he himself states in the annals of the day-school that Fr. Durand, the parish priest, died in 1834; his successor was Fr. Chirat, and the present letter is proof that these events took place later on) promised to grant their request. In view of all this, Bro. Bruno went to Mr. Tripier, who owned the building in question. Mr. Tripier went to Fr. Cattet and told him, I have come to congratulate you, Fr. Vicar General, for the wonderful idea you have had. I hear you are going to give the sisters a building which belongs to me and which I have given to the brothers. Thats a very liberal idea! These good brothers and sisters will be able to visit each other, chat and have fun together...and if any problems arise, youll look for some way to minimize them.

The church authorities backed down, but persisted in requesting Bro. Brunos transfer. In a letter sometime after 10th November 1837, Mr. Tripier told Fr. Champagnat that Bro. Bruno was not involved at all in the matter, and that the suggestion not to let the sisters have the building had come from a master mason and a master carpenter who had done repair work on it. Consequently, Mr. Tripier went on:

I am formally opposed to this so-called change, since it would become prejudicial to me and would create extreme disorder in that house.... To send away a brother whose only fault was to have protected the interests of the Marist Brothers would stir up rumors and create open scandal because of the splitting up of my house. Besides, if the parish priest and the vicar general are so concerned for my establishment, which belongs to me alone, they can rest very easy and this house will go on and will take care of itself better and better all the time. Now, dear Father, its up to you not to let yourself be browbeaten, but to declare that what has been done has been done, just as what has been written has been written.

Fr. Champagnat must have followed his advice, because the school stayed open, the boarding school moved to the property in Bellegarde, and Bro. Bruno remained in Neuville until 1849 (cf. AFM 214.59, pp. 2-3).

Most Esteemed Mr. Tripier,

I would have come as soon as I received your invitation except for a trip I am going to have to make to Couzon in a few days. As the saying goes, I would like to kill two birds with one stone.

Like you, I am upset by the skirmishes our brothers are going through in Neuville. Please tell them that these little contradictions will in no way diminish the reward they should look forward to in heaven. I say these little contradictions, because everything which is not sin is little. I think that with a bit of patience, it will all stop.

As for the warehouse, I am of the opinion that the brothers must either be its sole masters, or they must change their residence. Brother Jean-Baptiste, with whom I have discussed the matter, agrees with us. It would even be desirable to put a bit more distance between the two establishments rather than talk of moving them closer together. So I fully approve your point of view as well as Brother Brunos. I am also convinced that Fr. Cattet, the vicar general, and the parish priest, will share that opinion.

Our establishment in Neuville really needed a man like you, who is not discouraged by anything, who knows how to overcome difficulties and forestall them!

Please accept, most worthy founder of the school of Neuville, my sincere gratitude, while you await your just reward from God.

I have the honor to be, with respect, your most devoted servant,

Champagnat

P.S. I would not be displeased if our brothers spent their recreation performing some service in the church.

Notre Dame de lHermitage, 9th August 1837

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 la minute; AFM RCLA 1; pp. 52-53; nº 51

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