Letters of Marcellin – 189

Marcellin Champagnat


In his letter of 18th April 1838, Fr. Debelay reminded Fr. Champagnat of his promise of three brothers for his parish:

You have not forgot that last year His Lordship of Belley was kind enough to write you to ask you to send three of your brothers to Nantua. (Cf. L. 143)

He answered me that your commitments would not permit you to honor my request, which he was so good as to explain to you, in November 1837, but that you would be able to fulfill it during this year, that is to say, next October.

I counted on your promise, and consequently I rented a lovely house next to the church, with all the annexes necessary for the success of this work, which I consider extremely important for the improvement of my parish. I also began to set aside money for the furnishings and the other advance payments required by your regulations.

But in order to guarantee the level of success I expect from this establishment, you must send very capable subjects, since I want them not only to compete advantageously with four or five layteachers who are in this city, but also to replace the town teacher to whom the town council grants 1000 to 1200 francs per year, plus lodging. The support and dedication which I will show toward this establishment, the zealous cooperation of the many good people in Nantua will permit us, I hope, to reach the desired goal very quickly....

As can be seen, Fr. Debelay says nothing specific about the conditions he can offer the Founder. This is why the latter asks for more concrete information, before committing himself.

According to Bro. Avit (Annales de Nantua, p. 10), It seems that this reply jolted Fr. Debelay a bit, since he did not answer until April 1840. In the interval, he appealed to his bishop, as we will see later on (L. 239).


The interest His Lordship the bishop of Belley has shown in having an establishment of our brothers in Nantua is a powerful motive for us not to refuse your request. But if this establishment is to prosper and the brothers compete advantageously against the layteachers, the school must be free, and you must have the consent of the prefect of your department and of the local authorities. A great many towns offer us these advantages to back up the requests they send us, and you can understand that it is in the best interests of our society to give first option to establishments of that nature.

A few more words from you to let us know the exact state of things would put us in a position to give you a more positive reply concerning the time when we can provide you with brothers.

Please accept my respects and the assurance of the compete devotedness with which I have the honor to be, Father, your most humble and most obedient servant,

Champagnat, superior

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.84, nº95


Letters of Marcellin - 188...


Letters of Marcellin - 191...