Letters of Marcellin – 309

Marcellin Champagnat


We have already described, in connection with L. 229, how the parish priest of Les Roches had obtained brothers for his school. But it was still not open at Christmas 1838, since he wrote to Fr. Champagnat:

Now there is a very special reason for your brothers to begin school next Monday, 3lst December. The sub-prefect has twice done all he could to put off a decision as to which school would be authorized to have a boarding school. Since the brothers were not in Les Roches they could not be authorized. The council meets on 2nd January; he has assured me that this time, if the school has not opened, he will not be able to avoid authorizing one of the layteachers. The council is not of the opinion that there should be several boarding schools in Les Roches.... From this explanation, you will realize that it is important for your brothers to arrive in Les Roches next Saturday, the 29th, so that they can take the names of the children on Sunday, begin classes on Monday, and on 2nd January present our documentation establishing their existence and status... (AFM, 129.61).

His suggestion was apparently followed, for Bro. Avit, in the annals of this establishment, notes that, The establishment of Les Roches, which is the 42nd, was therefore opened at the end of 1838 (AFM, 214.45, p. 6). But the question of the boarding school seems to have been left hanging, according to a letter from the parish priest on 1st February 1839:

I have the honor to inform you that the superior committee has this month accepted the requests for authorization from the three schools in Les Roches to have boarders, and the sub-prefect told me that all three will probably be authorized. These authoriza-
ions will make the existing competition with our school all the stronger since the brothers will not be able to take in boarders. As you know, the second floor is not yet set up for dormitories. I cannot possibly cover this new expense if the establishment gets nothing from the boarders, not even the monthly school fees. In order for us to take on the renovations needed for a boarding school, it would be necessary to receive one franc per month from each student, independent of the monthly fees; the surplus would belong to the brothers who would set whatever boarding fees seemed best to them. Please be good enough to study this question and tell me if this is possible....

Fr. Champagnat certainly did not wait until December to answer, and the present letter simply underlines the consequences of the parish priests desire to have a boarding division in his school; namely, his eagerness to collect money to renovate the house for this purpose. Fr. Champagnat probably did not compose this letter himself but had it drawn up by a brother to whom he gave the main ideas to be developed.


I am very surprised by the little problems the brothers have shared with me in connection with your establishment. It seems to me that after all the trouble you have taken to found it, you are as interested as we are in maintaining it and making it prosper. You realize however that to reach that goal, the brothers must be able to live in Les Roches, provide for their maintenance, and like all other teachers, put something aside for their old age. However, far from being able to do that, last year the brothers ended up, on the contrary, 150 francs in arrears on what is absolutely obligatory for the motherhouse. I did not fail to remark to the brothers that perhaps they had too many expenses. They replied that they had kept to their Rule, and that since their garden produced nothing, they constantly had to go to the grocers, and that everything there is very expensive.

Father, you are too reasonable and too generous, things being what they are, to create problems for us concerning fees about which no one anywhere argues with us, and which can be only a very slight supplement to the minimal salary we ask for. I have absolutely no recollection, Father, of having told you that the children of the surrounding towns would be in the same category as those of Les Roches, and that their fees would go to you. I have even less reason to believe that I made such a concession to you since we follow the contrary custom everywhere else. Brother Visitor explained to you most of our reasons, but the strongest of all, the one which is independent of any arrangement and any contract, is that one way or another, our brothers have to be able to live, which would not seem possible with the salary rigorously set at 1200 francs for three brothers. So I hope, Father, that you will acquiesce before our just complaints, and that, for the good and the prosperity of your work, far from quarreling with the brothers over the slight compensation they might draw from the children of the neighboring towns, you will on the contrary seek to increase it by encouraging, as far as possible, the admission of these children.

I will not speak to you about the primary boarding school which you could establish in the brothers house, although, in my opinion, this would be an excellent means to insure its success and to furnish your establishment that just and reasonable security which makes an educational establishment run well. Most of the towns have experienced its advantages and they are the first to offer us suitable quarters. We are also accustomed, when they collect the monthly fees, to grant them a suitable deduction for the children of the town itself who are boarders. As for the others, the brothers are responsible for them and profit from them.

In your wisdom, Father, see what you can possibly do in this regard.

Accept, 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, pp. 162-163, nº 207


Letters of Marcellin - 307...


Letters of Marcellin - 310...