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Letters of Marcellin - 316

 

Br. Marcellin Champagnat
29/01/1840


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Despite the reply he received the preceding August (L. 264), Fr. Page becomes more and more insistent on having brothers, sending no less than eight letters before the school opened, without counting his visits to the Hermitage for the same purpose. The construction of a school, which has been in the planning stage since 1837 (cf. L. 97) is now announced as imminent, but that still leaves a certain lapse of time before the brothers will be sent, since it is much better to offer them a definitive installation right from the start. But Father Page, being in a rush, will not follow that advice; on 11th May, he will announce, I have leased a very lovely house with yard and garden, five rooms on the first floor and two fine study halls below, all well built and well located. I had the garden seeded in view of the arrival of the brothers you were good enough to promise me for the next opening of school, if we are ready to receive them. Our administration decided, the day before yesterday, that the school would be built according to the same plans we had already had drawn up... (AFM, 129.79). It is hard to blame Fr. Page, consumed with indefatigable zeal, for interpreting this present letter according to his own mindset. Later on, he will realize the wisdom of the advice it contains. It was dictated by Fr. Champagnat, but not written by him, which is understandable, since he was no longer Superior and his health has already been undermined by his illness (cf. Life, pp. 230 ff.).

Father,

We were very pleased to learn that your administrators were thinking of building a house very soon for the schools of your city. It is a major point in guaranteeing this work and making it prosper, to have the cooperation of the municipal authorities. We even think, and this is what experience has taught us, that you would do very well not to rent a house, but to wait until the new building has been put up. That rented house would certainly need alterations, whose cost could be put to much better use in the brothers establishment; and besides, that would be the best way to stop your administrators rush, and to slow down, or even to put an end to, their project. Once they see the schools begun, they will naturally be in much less of a hurry to work on the projected building and the prefect will push much less forcefully for its completion.

Besides, we are very much afraid we cannot give you subjects next All Saints, since all those who are in Vauban will not yet be ready to be employed in teaching, and all those in our house at the Hermitage will probably be taken to fill the promises made before the one you think you got from us. It is certainly not that we are not very eager to open the establishment in Digoin, but we would like to see it on a good footing right from the start. We know, beyond any doubt, that when one begins something before everything is ready, one creates even greater problems and things never go well.

I hope that the fine parish priests of the diocese of Autun will be very interested in the novitiate in Vauban. We will try to train the subjects they send us as soon as possible, and we will then return them to them with great pleasure.

I have the honor to be, etc....

Champagnat

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