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Saint Marcellin Champagnat - The life and mission
Seán D. Sammon - 1999

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Dear Reader,
Who was Saint Marcellin Champagnat? We know that he was a priest of the Society of Mary, and the founder of its Little Brothers of Mary, recognized worldwide today as the Institute of the Marist Brothers. Yes, he was all of those things, but he was also so much more. This book sets out to uncover the message that his life and mission hold for us today.
The story of this young priest takes us back to late eighteenth and early nineteenth century France. Get ready to walk its roads, and to cherish the terrain he so loved, to meet the people who shaped him, to suffer through the adversity that strengthened him, and, in the end, to be seized by the God who was at the center of his life.
Marcellin Champagnat loved young people. They, in turn, found his enthusiasm and energy contagious. Three elements fueled his passion for life and shaped his spirituality: an awareness of God’s presence, an unwavering confidence in Mary and her protection, and the two uncomplicated virtues of simplicity and humility.
As a founder Marcellin was young, aged twenty-seven years, when he invited his first two recruits to join him. He gave his Little Brothers a clear mission. Proclaim the Word of God directly to the young, he said, and among them, particularly to those most neglected. He knew that to teach young people you had to love them first. Marcellin guided his life and work by that principle and expected his brothers to do the same.
So, turn the page, and begin to walk alongside this man whom our Church calls a very modern-day saint, an apostle to youth. Marcellin Champagnat was both for his time in history; he is no less for ours today.

Seán D. Sammon, FMS
Rome, Italy
22 January 1999

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