Letters of Marcellin – 178

Marcellin Champagnat


Fr. Millerand was installed as parish priest of Semur-en-Brionnais on 4th January 1838; he wrote to the Hermitage on the 9th to say that his first pastoral visit had been to the brothers and that he would do all he could to provide them with what the prospectus required, but that there would understandably be some delay. All this was due to the fact that the school had been established under very precarious conditions. The house destined for the brothers was attached to the minor seminary. It was accepted, for lack of anything better (Annales de Semur, AFM 212.84, p. 6). As for the financing, it was limited to promises:

There are one hundred francs guaranteed income, on a capital of two thousand francs given by Mrs. de Précy,...plus two hundred francs from the primary school (provided for in the law of 1833) and then another foundation which is nearly completed and which I cannot yet reveal, and many other little resources...
(Letter from Fr. Beraud, 10th October 1837, AFM, 129.37).

On top of that, the parish priest, Fr. Bonnardel, died four days after the brothers arrived, on 28th November 1836, and Fr. Beraud, his curate, who had taken care of the school, was transferred when Fr. Millerand took over. In his letter, he had asked the exact terms of the agreement, in order to know his responsibilities. Bro. François answered him that Father Superior was in Paris and that he would get back to him as soon as he returned. Since the parish priest could not wait, he wrote again on 9th March, directly to Paris. The Founder must have received his letter the 13th, and without waiting, sent him this answer, which we have dated the 14th since it has to fall between his reception of Fr. Millerands letter on the 13th and his sending of his next letter to Bro. François, on the 15th.

Father and esteemed Parish Priest,

The Brother Director of the Hermitage, not realizing that my stay in Paris would be so long, gave me no indication that you had done me the honor of writing me at the Hermitage.

The specific agreement made with Fr. Beraud, to the best of my recollection, was that in the course of the year he would aim at providing a suitable house, either by building one or by buying one already built; in addition, since he could give only four hundred francs for the foundation at that time, the rest would be given at Easter. (I believe they have still not been received.)
There was no question of a third brother. The other conditions are set forth in the prospectus of the society which you must have. They are the same for all the parishes which ask for our brothers.

You can understand, Father and esteemed parish priest, that it would be absolutely impossible for us to cut back any further, since we are already down to what is strictly necessary. Is it not necessary that our brothers, with an occupation such as they have, be given their clothing and their board? We have reduced by a third what is given to the excellent Brothers of the Christian Schools, who do not, I think, manage to put a great deal aside. And we are not even speaking about travel expenses when the brothers come for their retreat, which however ought to be paid. If these terms are not satisfactory, please be good enough to inform us as soon as possible.

I had forewarned Fr. Beraud that Fr. Bonardelle was going to die very shortly and that he himself would be transferred before the establishment was able to get by without its founder, and then we would have to withdraw our brothers. Moreover, we know exactly where to assign them. You are counting on your parishioners, but they will not do anything. As you said, he missed the mark. I hope you will be able to succeed. We will be patient a few more days.

P.S. If another brother were needed, simply because of the boarders, the town would not be financially responsible for him.

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. 17, nº 18


Letters of Marcellin - 171...


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