Letters of Marcellin – 227

Marcellin Champagnat

1838-11

The letter to Mr. Baude (L. 228) which immediately follows this one, informs us that Mr. Jovin Deshayes had to go to Paris. Having become aware of the fact, Fr. Champagnat saw it as a good occasion to let the Ministry of Public Instruction know that he was still awaiting an answer to his request for authorization. With this in mind, he updated Mr. Jovin, via this letter, on the state of the question, and suggested the arguments the latter should stress with the authorities.

From the National Archives, we know how matters had gone since 23rd June 1838, where we last left them (L. 197). On 5th July, Mr. De Salvandy had letters written to the prefects of the RhĂ´ne and the Loire: Before asking for a royal decision on the request [of Fr. Champagnat], it seemed proper to me to refer the question it raises to the general councils of the Loire and the RhĂ´ne. The situation involves an institute which will train primary teachers, and these councils will have to study whether local needs require that [this institute] be added to the means of recruiting [teachers] which are already offered by the normal schools, and whether the projected addition might not create some inconvenience....

The two general councils met independently, both on the same day, 25th August, to study the question. The council of the Loire declared itself in favor of the authorization of the Institute of the Little Brothers of Mary; that of the RhĂ´ne, on the contrary, did not think it opportune.

On 5th September, Archbishop Gaston de Pins, doubly upset by this latter decision, because it concerned his diocese and because it was unjust towards a newborn congregation which he admired and supported, quickly wrote to the minister: This valuable Institute is hardly known in this department where it has only two establishments: one in Condrieu which is doing marvelously well, and one in Anse which was opened recently and gives great promise for the future, since the whole population of that district seat expressed to me their solemn gratitude through the intermediary of the parish priest.... He goes on to mention that many requests are being made for brothers, since many rural population centers do not have the financial means to support the Brothers of the Christian Schools, and he concludes,

I have reason to hope, therefore, that Your Excellency will be willing to bring about the authorization of the Brothers of Mary....

On 14th September, the prefect of the Loire sent a personal letter along with an extract from the minutes of the August 25th meeting of the general council of that department, including his own presentation of the matter to the council.

On 17th October, the minister asked the prefect of the RhĂ´ne to send him, as quickly as possible, a copy of the vote of the general council. The latter replied on 23rd October, sending the result of the voting on a separate sheet of which we do not have a copy.

On 5th November, Mr. Baude wrote to the minister to explain the unanimous vote of the general council of the Loire in favor of the congregation of the Brothers of Mary, for the minister had expressed his astonishment at such a result. It is true that he had received the minutes from the Loire, which had gone first to the Minister for Religious Affairs, after those from the Rhone. I might remark, added Mr. Baude, that since the department of the Loire is the one where the establishments of the Little Brothers of Mary are the oldest and most numerous, the opinion of its general council carries the weight of an experience which others do not have to the same degree; but I prefer to appeal to Your Excellencys own investigations, and for that purpose, I set before your eyes the statistics of the schools which are presently directed by the brothers. I beg you to please have the most detailed and rigorous study made of these schools, to compare the way they are run and their results with those of nearby schools, and to base your decision on your evaluation of the facts which persons enjoying your confidence have verified. He enclosed the list of the schools run by the brothers and gave the number of inhabitants for each locality of the Loire thus mentioned. Not one had more than a thousand.

It is in that context that we must read the following letter. The copy gives only the month, November, as its date; from the one which follows (L. 228), we know that Mr. Jovin Deshayes returned from Paris before 24th November, so we may presume that he left for there around the 10th. That is why we place this letter within the first ten days of November.

Dear Sir,

In sending you the various bits of information I had promised you about the state of our affairs in Paris, I must express my deepest gratitude for the interest you so willingly show in its success. Consequently, I feel myself under a real obligation not to let slip a single occasion of showing you how much I appreciate that important and outstanding service. Mr. Delebecque has the whole file on my business: opinions of the bishops, of the prefects, etc…. As for the opinion of the council of the department of the Loire, Mr. Baude told me on the 24th of August, in the prefects office actually, that he was going to write it up and that he was now making it his business. As to the clause which would have the ordinance restrict us to towns of 1000 inhabitants or less, and take away from us the more populous places, you realize that we simply cannot go along with it. A large number of our establishments would be ruined by that condition; several of the towns where they are located have more than 4000 inhabitants. The Minister of Public Instruction himself, in a letter signed by Mr. Delebecque on 18th May 1838, asked us to direct the school in St-Pol (Pas de Calais), and that city has over 4000 inhabitants.

Sir, I am relying strongly on your powerful protection. Your goodness assures me that you will use all of it in our favor; thus it is with the deepest gratitude and total devotedness that I have the honor to be, etc….

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. 115, nº 132, éditée dans AAA pp. 259-260

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