Letters of Marcellin – 165

Marcellin Champagnat

1837-12-13

After the letter of the preceding 28th September (L. 141), Fr. Champagnat wasted no time in starting over again with the process involved in a new request for the authorization of his congregation. But, fearing that the matter would drag on for a long time, he thought for a moment of having it approved as a branch of the congregation of Christian Instruction of St-Paul, or rather of the congregation of La Mennais, of which Fr. Mazeliers was in a certain sense itself a branch. In fact, we read in their prospectus:

This Congregation, approved by an ordinance of the king on 11th June 1823, took its rules from Fr. de La Mennais. Its aim is to provide primary school teachers in the former province of Dauphiny, just as that of Fr. de La Mennais was established for Brittany.
(AFM 281.134)

Actually, between 1820 and 1825, several congregations called Brothers of Christian Instruction were approved after that of Fr. de La Mennais, but each time for a very limited part of France (cf. P. Zind, Nouvelles Congrégations...., pp. 267-286).

It could therefore have been tempting to pass off the congregation of the Marist Brothers as a congregation of Christian Instruction like the others, but for the academy [school district] of the RhĂ´ne. There were already the Clerics of Saint-Viator, whose authorization dated from 10th January 1830, but they were a very different type of association. Therefore, our similarity to the congregations of Brothers of Christian Instruction which were already approved would have made it harder to refuse us authorization. But, no matter how enticing that thought might have been, it never went any further.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph

Father Superior,

This is the moment when, following the advice of the rector of the academy, the commitments of our brothers who are eligible for conscription should be sent in. We really need the help of your charity again this year, as in preceding ones.

We have just sent a request to the Minister of Public Instruction to obtain the approval of our statutes by royal ordinance. The local authorities make us very hopeful of the outcome of this step. None the less, for fear that things will be dragged out, under the pretext that it is a question of a new religious congregation, we thought of asking you to please send us your statutes as soon as possible, together with a copy of the ordinance you were granted, so that, should the need arise, we might have ourselves authorized as a branch of your institute, which for all practical purposes is no different from ours, so to speak, in any respect (*).

Please, Father, continue your kindness to us and the help of your prayers, and accept the respect with which I have the honor to be, Father and esteemed Superior, your most devoted servant,

Champagnat

(*)P.S. It was on the advice of His Lordship the bishop of Belley that we took the liberty of making this request of you, because someone had raised the objection with his delegate in Paris that for the authorization of a new religious congregation, there would have to be a law of both chambers, whereas having ourselves authorized as a branch of the Institute of Fr. de La Mennais, for the academy of Lyons, as you are for the academy of Grenoble, would obviate that difficulty.

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 lexpédition, AFM 112.9

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