Letters of Marcellin – 134

Marcellin Champagnat

1837-09-02

On 27th August 1837, according to Bro. Avit, Fr. Moine wrote to Fr. Champagnat as follows:

Father Superior,

As a result of the hope you so graciously gave
Fr. Pinchon, my curate, when he had the honor of seeing you for the second time, in the beginning of July before he left for Aix-les-Bains, I hurried to get ready to receive your brothers at the beginning of November of this year. I immediately rented a house which can hold two classrooms which will be separated only by a door which can be left open. You were informed of this by my curate. Then, after his return from Savoy, I received a letter from you (L. 129) which to my great astonishment, contained a mass of pretexts which I thought had been sufficiently refuted, and to which you no longer held, according to what you told Fr. Pinchon and what he in turn shared with me. Even that did not stop me from continuing along the lines you had drawn up for us. I also gave the tenants notice.

You realize, Fr. Superior, that having gone so far, I cannot pull back now, and that I certainly do not want to abuse the good will of my parishioners. As for what you said about the importance of getting an establishment off to a good start, I agree with you, but if you knew their good dispositions, your fears would cease. In a half-day, we raised two-thirds of the yearly rent. Our ladies need only two or three weeks to put together sufficient furnishings. We have decided on the place where we will build, and have begun bringing the building materials there. If your brothers thought that the size of the two rooms we have rented, and which we think sufficient, was not, we have a secret, so that they will not become a purgatory for them. We will make a choice among the children, and for this first year, we will leave out the youngest. I have many other things to tell you, but having waited for the departure of Fr. Pinchon, who is going on retreat, who perhaps will see you there or perhaps someplace else in Lyons, I thought he could tell you the rest. But I cannot refrain from telling you that if the classes do not begin at All Saints, our brothers would get off to a bad start, because the children would be scattered. Le Coteau would have...there were already some who went to Roanne because we had no school; Le Coteau, which is within such easy reach, would get still more, perhaps Coutouvre will also have brothers (cf. L. 123) and that would take still more away from us. This year would be lost if the brothers arrived only at Easter, when the work in the fields was beginning.

I really hope that the hopes you have aroused in us and which have got us so excited, will not be disappointed.

Please accept, etc.... (cf. AFM 129.34)

Somewhat annoyed by such stubbornness, Father Champagnat replied with the following letter, but ultimately, three brothers were sent to Perreux that same year (cf. L. 163).

Dear Father,

I have repeatedly told you that I did not know of a single house in Perreux which would be suitable for your establishment of our brothers, and that it would be better to start work immediately on the building you have decided to put up, so that it will be ready for next year, in keeping with our prospectus. The brothers cannot occupy it unless it has been standing at least a year, and we have too many reasons for insisting on that point to depart from it in any way whatsoever.

The means you suggest for getting around the lack of space in the building is not without its disadvantages. Not accepting the younger boys, or postponing their acceptance, so as to make room for the older ones, will open the door to complaints and murmur-
ing; and the parents, who are eager to have their children educated, if once rejected, will with all the more reason enroll them in nearby schools.

So, Father, it is advisable to use the money you would spend on rent toward the construction of the building or the manufacture of the brothers furnishings, so that they may come to Perreux only when everything is ready and on a solid foundation. Then we will do everything we should to see that your school operates to your entire satisfaction and that of all your parishioners. To do otherwise would be to expose all of us to the problems, annoyances and confusion which are the accompaniment and result of haste in any undertaking.

Father, please believe how interested I am in your establishment, and accept the respect with which I have the honor to be your very devoted servant,

Champagnat

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, p. 54, nº 53

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