Letters of Marcellin – 179

Marcellin Champagnat


The Founder had hardly sent his letter of the 13th when he received the one from the parish priest of Semur, and perhaps also the one from Bro. Cyprien, which we do not have. He answered the priest without delay (cf. L. 178), and then wrote this letter to Bro. François, to have him take steps as quickly as possible to have Bro. Cyprien authorized, since he had just taken over that school, no doubt in November 1837, armed with his certificate of competence and a ten-year commitment. However, it was more difficult to get authorization for the seat of a district like Semur (pop. 12,600) than for a small locality like Tarentaise (pop. 400) or Lavalla (pop. 2000), since the more important the place was, the more demanding the authorities were about education. But if the brother did not have this authorization, there was the danger that a layteacher might be appointed. Fr. Champagnats letter of 16th July 1838 to Fr. Mazelier (L. 200) informs us that Bro. Cyprien...has finally been authorized and ministerially appointed to Semur, department of Saône-et-Loire.

Despite the repetition, we give the text of the preceding letter since it was included in this one.

As for the question of our legal authorization, it seems to have taken a small step forward. Here is what the Founder wrote in his Journal:

March 13 The letters from the bishops have been submitted to the University Council and received a good report. Visit to Mr. Pillet, who said he thought the minister was getting ready to make the request to the king for the authorization.
15 Visit to Mr. Ardaillon who was leaving for St-Chamond.

The letters from the two bishops fully refute the two objections raised by the Minister, namely the harm the congregation might do to the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the risk of moral lapses stemming from the fact that we sent only one or two brothers to a school. Both end with a strong recommendation in favor of the authorization. But the minister or someone else noted in the margin of the letter from the bishop of Belley:
Set as a condition the agreement to work only in towns with fewer than 700 to 800 inhabitants. On 13th March the minister was given a document setting out the whole history of this affair and the specifics of the actual situation. In the margin of that document is the comment: The Councils opinion is totally favorable, and it cannot but maintain this stand, which is strengthened even more by the new explanations given by the bishops consulted, of Belley and Lyons. 14th March.


Paris, 15th March 1838, Rue du Bac NÂş 120

My very dear Brother François,

I have received letters from Brother Cyprien and from the parish priest. I am enclosing a copy for you so that you will know exactly where things stand. If you can spare Brother Jean-
Baptiste for a week, he should go there, and en route, also visit the establishments of Perreux and Charlieu.

We cannot leave Brother Cyprien without his authorization. I think we must have him authorized in Tarentaise, and that without delay; or even in Lavalla, if it proves impossible to do so in Tarentaise. As for Semur, as soon as they create problems about fulfilling the conditions, we cannot commit Brother Cyprien there. Find out quickly what steps should be taken. Here is the letter, NÂş 60.

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.

I think Bro. Cypriens authorization will encounter less difficulty in Tarentaise. Also, we will have more freedom in assigning him. Do not lose any time; you know what has to be done. Perhaps it is not necessary for him to come himself, provided you have his certificate of competence.

I was thinking also of Izieux or Couzon; in both those places there are other steps to be taken first.

I still have no idea where I stand with regard to the moves I have made. I am going to make some visits after noon; maybe I will learn something.

I have just arrived this very moment from seeing Mr. Pillet, who is in charge of primary schools. He tells me that our affair went to the University Council on Tuesday and that their decision was favorable, and that he believes the minister will decide to ask the king for an ordinance. It all sounds too lovely and too quick for there not to be some other obstacle. Although time hangs heavy on my hands in Paris, I would be very happy if I could celebrate Easter at the Hermitage. God refuses nothing to fervent and persevering prayer.

Mr. Ardaillon has informed me by letter that the University Council has just examined our affair and it will immediately go to the Committee of the Interior. No one ever mentioned this committee to me before. I certainly expected it to go to the Council of State. I believe Mr. Pillet is well informed, since this is his department, and since, as you can see, his report is more favorable. Let us say once again, As God wills, his holy will be done. What breaks my heart are all those who are eligible for conscription this year. People tell me they dont think they will be able to take advantage of the ordinance if it is given after the drawing. Inform the parents of this so that they can take precautions. I will learn more next Thursday and I will let you know. Mr. Ardaillon keeps telling me I can go home, but a good number of others tell me to hang on, that often enough everything depends on one visit, or on the presence of a petitioner. I will follow that advice no matter what it costs me.

A Dieu, dear brothers, I carry you all very affectionately in my heart. I do not ask for your prayers, you owe them to me.

Champagnat, sup
of the B of M

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 autographe AFM 111.37, éditée partiellement dans AAA pp. 238-239


Letters of Marcellin - 177...


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