Letters of Marcellin – 219

Marcellin Champagnat

1838-10

We already know (cf. L. 199) that Fr. Champagnat planned a trip to the department of the Var. According the account book (L.C., 1, p. 113) he made this trip at the end of August, since he took 120 francs on 27th August 1838, to go to the department of the Var. He agreed with Fr. Aurran on the foundation of a novitiate in Lorgues and sent him the plan of the building to be constructed (AA, p. 270). Now he informs him that he cannot send him brothers right away.

Knowing this gentlemans generosity for all sorts of good works, he profits by the occasion to speak to him about the precarious situation of Charlieu, which Brother Dominique, director of the school, describes at length in a letter to the mayor in May 1838:

Allow me to bring to your attention and through you to the knowledge of the members of the council over which you preside, some facts about the school for LITTLE BOYS which I have directed since the beginning of this year, and to tell you clearly and frankly the sad state of your establishment because of the state of neglect in which the authorities of this city have left it for several years. To speak of just this year, Mister Mayor, let me tell you that since classes reopened, somewhere around 110 to 115 children have attended our school; out of that number, I can count more than forty who were accepted gratuitously..., all we have left to live on then are the fees for about sixty children, minimal fees, which often are not paid in full. It is easy to see that it would have been impossible for us to meet the expenses of a household of three or four brothers if several charitable persons had not come to our aid.... I will not speak about our furniture which is now worn out; it may have been a century old, and was already in ruins when it was given to us...it was only this year that we got two mattresses which were given us by someone who is really interested in us.... Would there not be some way, Mister Mayor, to come to our help? Before 1830, I was told, the town council voted a certain amount of money for the brothers school. For reasons unknown to me, someone thought that should be cancelled. Even though such a step was very painful for us, the brothers, my predecessors and I, have continued to accept into our classes the poor children who came to us... (For more information on Charlieu, see L. 13, and for the follow-up on the question of Lorgues, see LL. 293 and 299).

Dear Sir,

We are very grateful for the zeal you continue to show for the establishment of a novitiate of our brothers in Lorgues. We are very willing to back up your generous efforts as much as lies in our power. As soon as our brothers have been placed in their various establishments, we will start working on the plan you asked for. Since it will require a lot of thought, and our time is taken up now with the problems of the assignments, we must make you wait a few days. Right now we do not think it possible to promise you, positively and absolutely, all the brothers you want, but we will do all we can to assist your pious goodwill. However, if your zeal finds quicker and surer ways to do good elsewhere, we would not want to stand in the way. The glory of God and the good of souls before all else.

In the interview I was privileged to have with you, I spoke to you about an establishment of our brothers for the instruction of the poor in the little city of Charlieu (Loire). I am taking the liberty of reminding you of this, with all the more confidence in that it has the double claim on your kindness which your pious generosity itself has prescribed. For fourteen years young people have been receiving a solid Christian education there, and now, because of the annoyances created by a few malicious people, that house is now in such a disturbed state that I do not see how we can continue to do any good there. One hundred and fifty children are going to be left without education, or else they will fall into the hands of hirelings. Poor children; for several months now, they have been asking God to help them by getting some powerful and generous protector interested in them. I will be so bold as to present you with their wishes and their prayers. With the assurance of their deep gratitude, please help them to join the large family of orphans whose benefactor and father you are.

P.S. I am delighted to be able to send you a slight token of my gratitude in the form of the meditations on the grievous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by Sister Catherine Emmerich. I will have this little book left with Fr. Boui, the superior of the major seminary of Aix.

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: Dapres la minute, AFM, RCLA 1, p.107-108, nº 122

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