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Letters of Marcellin - 001

 

Br. Marcellin Champagnat
01/12/1823


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to give him news of the establishments which Fr. Champagnat had just visited.

Original written by Fr. Champagnat and sent; AFM 111.1, published in Circulaires, I, p. 129, and in part in Life, p. 297, and in Abrégé des Annales, p. 53.

Father Champagnat certainly had reason to write to Brother Jean-Marie. After opening the school in Bourg-Argental on 2nd January 1822, he had suddenly left there to join the Trappists, leaving the two classes, with 200 children, to his fifteen-year old companion (Avit, Annales). He returned after three or four weeks and threw himself at Father Champagnats feet to ask his forgiveness. Pardon was so generously granted that in the autumn of 1823 he was entrusted with opening the school in Saint-Symphorien-le-Château, which is now called Saint-Symphorien-sur-Coise (cf. OM, IV, pp. 294-295; Life, pp. 146-148). In this letter, Father Champagnat shows him that he once again has full confidence in him.

My dear children in Jesus and Mary,

I waited until today to write you, so that I could give you news of the other establishments I visited last week. Everyone there is in good health and they were very happy to have news about you.

Brother Michel is doing very well in Bourg-Argental; their school isnt doing badly at all. However, they still have only 90 children, although more come every day. They are still very poorly housed; they are still forbidden to use the garden, which would be extremely useful to them. But Im really not angry about the situation. I spoke to Mr. De Pleyné and Mr. De Sablon, and made it clear to them that the present building was not suitable for a school, and that we were counting on something better for the future. They gave me their promise, but I dont know what they will do. Theyre in no hurry to settle the matter.

Things are going wonderfully in Boulieu. They already have more than a hundred children. They keep urging me to send a third brother. I dont know yet whom I shall send. The parish priest is very pleased. He told me that he dreamed about us every night, he was so eager to attract us to his department and his diocese; he told me to expect that the Duke de Vogüé would give us all sorts of help, and said that he is only the latters spokesman. Let us pray that God will show us His holy will, and let us always say that we are His useless servants.

Brother Laurent seems happy in Vanosc, but his resources there are still minimal.

The school in St-Sauveur is still growing, although Brother Jean-François is no longer teaching there; his mood seems to be improving slowly, and he is more resigned. I was a bit annoyed that you had told him in advance about that decision. When Mr. Colomb saw three brothers arriving in town, he saw what was coming and wrote me about it. In spite of opposition from several quarters, I think Ill win my case. During my visit, I explained my reasons for acting this way to his family, in the absence of the mayor. I think they agreed with me.

Things are also going very well in Tarentaise. The children say that Brother Laurent was a nice guy, but the new teacher is even more so. As for La Valla, it looks like we shall have plenty of children, and plenty of poor people. Thank God! We will do what we can to feed them.

Many novices are also coming, but nearly all of them are very poor and very young. Still, three of them have reached the age of reason, since they are over thirty. One is a business-man, one is a shoemaker, and the third is a nobody. Still, God does great things with nothing.

If you need a third [brother] I can send him to you, provided your parish priest sends me a request.

Since I intend to write you again, I will stop here, assuring you that it will always give me pleasure and satisfaction to be your very devoted father in Jesus and Mary.

My respects to your parish priest, to whom I will be writing soon.

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