2022-05-20 FRANCE

May 20th, anniversary of the birth of Saint Marcellin Champagnat

On May 20, 1789 – the year the French Revolution began – Marcellin Joseph Benito Champagnat was born. The place is a modest house built with stones, in the village of Rosey, which is now the property of the commune of Marlhes, 900 metres above sea level, located in the rural canton of Saint-Genest Malifaux. The largest urban centre is 23 km away, in Saint-Etienne, on the south-eastern border of the Department of Loire. At that time, approximately 2,700 inhabitants lived in Marlhes. This was a region that was cold and not very fertile , and when Champagnat was born, there was a high rate of infant mortality (30% of annual deaths) and also a very high rate of youth mortality.

About 60% of the population were farmers. It is in this typical rural context that we find the family of Jean-Baptiste Champagnat, the father of Marcellin, a small merchant and farmer, who came to hold public office during the Revolution. His mother, Marie-Thérèse Chirat, was a housewife and took care of the couple’s nine children. After Marcellin, the tenth child was born.

Years later, Father Marcellin Champagnat would recall his childhood in the request for recognition of the Institute sent to King Louis-Philippe. The letter reads as follows:

Born in the canton of St. Genêt Malifaux, department of the Loire, it was only with infinite difficulty that I was able to read due to a lack of qualified teachers: from that moment I felt the urgent need for an institution which could, with less expense, do in the rural areas what the Brothers of the Christian Schools do in the cities” (Letters, No. 34)

Virtual pilgrimate to ROSEY > http://q-r.to/bak66P

 

Congratulations, Father Champagnat

Br. Manoel Soares – Timor Leste

Today, once again, we, your children, Champagnat, unite from the four corners of the earth. Our hearts are like a cup that overflows with the purest wine of our love. We praise and thank God for the great gift that your life was to the world. If there is a party in heaven for your birthday, we here too sing our praises to the One who is the Lord of all things, for the valuable gift of your life. In doing so, we reaffirm our faith and our commitment to follow you, believing that, among the Saints, you, Champagnat, encourage us to walk. Since we are your dearest children, wherever we are, today we salute your name, we exalt your glory, we exult with joy. Congratulations, Champagnat!

Today we want to express our deep gratitude to God who chose you for such a sublime mission, planting in the good and fertile soil of your youthful heart a unique, beautiful, fertile and powerful seed, your original vocation.

God, having made a singular choice for you, wanted to show the world that his love is without measure. He made you more than a bridge, a channel, a source through which his deepest Father’s love would flow, and you would be in this world the instrument to bring this love for the most abandoned, the thousands of forgotten children in their poverty, young people with their wounds for never having been loved.

We have repeated insistently that the “Marists of Champagnat”, those who feel like your sons and daughters, are committed to keeping alive, today more than ever, your inspiring presence. In a world that experiences the harsh consequences of countless “Revolutions” that appear one after another, in these times marked by so much unpredictability and uncertainty, we need your transforming energy. And it is not without reason that in our hearts there are the same concerns, the same anxieties that your young priest’s heart suffered, lashed by the fury of different and, at times, insurmountable storms; but you knew how to look beyond, and even during the terrible dark nights, you could sense and believe that the dawn of a new time would come.

We, your children and other followers live these new times that you audaciously glimpsed when you imagined that your project would spread to the ends of the world. That confidence was extraordinary. There was an almost palpable certainty that the undertaking God placed under your responsibility could not fail. If these new times we live in are different and have appeals and challenges that are also very different from those experienced by you, we are challenged to be moved by the same faith, by the same trust, by the same certainty. We cannot fear, but, “looking beyond” we will find new intelligent, creative and courageous ways to respond to what the world expects of us, and to make your project as important and as necessary as when it was started more than two hundred years ago.

Believing that you walk ahead of us, we feel encouraged, confident to continue working to sow new seeds, but in a new and creative way of educating and evangelizing. But it is you, Champagnat, who always inspire us, pointing out to us new possibilities, new alternatives, a new way of being, of doing and of being among children and young people. We need courageous proposals to be a good Christian and a good citizen, because this world insists on wanting to kill within human beings the noblest feelings of justice and fraternity, and offering them multiple individualistic options for pleasure, as the only way to live and be happy.

And on this special day when we begin the “Year of Marist Vocations”, we ask you, Champagnat, to inspire the hearts of many young people to follow in your footsteps, in the sincere desire to imitate your example and be like beacons to illuminate the dark nights of these difficult times that we live today, believing in the dawn of a new tomorrow where justice, love and solidarity will prevail.

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