Letters of Marcellin – 206

Marcellin Champagnat

1838-08-10

Father Merlin must have asked for brothers sometime in 1836, but in such vague terms that the Founder had not put his name on the waiting list. Actually, it would be 1843 before everything was ready to receive the brothers (cf. Annales de St-Geoire). None the less, he has repeated his request, but from this reply it would seem he has been no more specific as to what conditions he could offer for receiving the brothers. For his part, the Founder is open to the idea, and the bishop, in his letter of 2nd September, will urge him to put St-Geoire at the head of the list of schools to be founded in his diocese. But on the one hand, the arrangement with the bishop, which could only mean the withdrawal of the brothers from La Côte-Saint-André, which has not been carried out; and on the other, the conditions regarding St-Geoire have still not been fulfilled. Fr. Merlin himself will admit as much in his letter of 27th June 1842: This is the third time that I have the honor to write to you in order to obtain several members of your excellent congregation to teach the young people of my parish. Twice my request was favorably received. But I did not achieve my purpose because of bad will on the part of some and apathy on the part of others. Today, thanks be to God, there is only one voice, and it is all for the brothers. ... Those who were most opposed in past years are now almost as eager as I could possibly be myself, and they have helped me greatly to smooth over every difficulty....

This letter of the Founders is undated, but from the one of 13th August (L. 207) addressed to the bishop, in which he alludes to the request of the parish priest of St-Geoire, we can date it without too much margin of error. Fr. Merlins letter arrived before 13th August, and since it was a second letter, the Founder would not have lost any time answering it. Moreover, in the register of copies, it appears just before the one to the bishop. Consequently, we can place it between the 10th and the 13th of August.

Father,

We had almost forgot about the request you sent us more than two years ago, until your letter arrived to remind us. Before setting the date when we can give you brothers, we would like to know on what footing you want to place this establishment: will you have funds to pay the brothers salary, or do you think you can get them from monthly fees? When the schools are free, they always do better, and good is more easily accomplished. This is therefore a reason for us to to give preference to those which offer us those advantages. For the moment, we have more of them than we can accommodate. All the same, since we are particularly interested in the diocese of Grenoble, we are inclined to make every effort to serve you as soon as possible, if your resources give us reasonable assurance that we can do good in your parish, which is the only thing we are looking for.

It is possible, in the context of an arrangement we have to make with your bishop, that you may be served very shortly, if everything is ready. In any case, Father, be assured that we will do all we can to grant your desire and support your zeal for the instruction of the children of your parish.

While awaiting the information we have requested, I have the honor to be, Father….

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. 96, nº 110

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