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LETTER NO. PS 112. Date : 25th March (Booklet Page 129) A copy of the letter written by Fr. Champagnant on May 1837 To: Bishop Bénigne Trousset d’ Hericourt In the Diocese of Autun. PLACES mentioned in the letter…. Autun Semur in Brionnais.

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letter no ps 112
  • Date : 25th March (Booklet Page 129)
  • A copy of the letter written by Fr. Champagnant on May 1837
  • To: Bishop Bénigne Trousset d’ Hericourt
  • In the Diocese of Autun.
places mentioned in the letter
PLACES mentioned in the letter…
  • Autun
  • Semur in Brionnais
people mentioned in the letter
PEOPLE mentioned in the Letter…
  • Bishop Béningne Trousset d’Hericourt
  • Bro. De La Croix
some important words an important statement
Some important words & An important Statement…
  • Quality and Zeal

“ Our Plans………………..in the world.”

situations revealed by the letter
Situations revealed by the letter…
  • The letter in our discussion is regarding the newly opened FIRST SCHOOL in the Diocese of Autun in Semur – en – Brionnais and the “ MILITARY CONSCRIPTION.”
  • The Director in this school is Br. De La Croix. He can be called for,
  • “National Guard Service “ or Military Conscription as he is not a certified teacher.
  • Both the Bishop and the Founder are concerned about the future of the school if the Br. Director is called up for the Military Service.
  • As the letter reveals Fr. Champagnat has made an alternative arrangement to overcome the problem.
  • A s this is the first school in the Diocese Fr.Champagnat makes it a point to tell the Bishop about the, “Prospectus.” Or the Guidelines to be followed when opening a new establishment.
supplementary data
  • “ National Guard Service.”. Jean Baptist writes, “ after 1830 the Bros were required in a number of places to take part in National Guard Service. They had to leave their children and to give up their schools in order to go through military drill and to mount guard. There were districts which these frustrations went for several years.” He continues,” The number of Brothers subject to the law of conscriptions was becoming greater every year.”
  • The foot notes add: “Not everybody did military service, only those who drew an unlucky number (Mauvis ) The service could last 6,7,or 8 years.
  • This explains that the young men were chosen by a lottery system.
  • As we know this law was a huge concern to Fr. Champagnant and he did everything humanly possible to get the Congregation exempted but to no avail.
  • It is an ancient city dating back to Romans times.
  • Roman ruins such as amphitheatre and temples of Janus and Minerva are found.
  • About 15,000 thousand inhabitants lived at that time.
  • One Bishop Charles had been there and he had left his priesthood to become a diplomat in Vienna. This has happened during the First Empire in1802.
  • Autun was merged with two other dioceses and reestablished in 1822 Bishop Béninge as its new Bishop-

Du Trousset D’Hericourt Bénigne-Urpain-Jean Marie

Bishop of Autun,Saòne-et Loire

Date of birth: 15th July 1797.

Place: Questembert, Morbihan.

Father: Bénigne-Joseph- Former President of the parliament of Paris.

Consecrated: Bishop of Autun on April 1829.

Died: 8th. July 1851.

his service to the diocese of autun
His service to the Diocese of Autun.
  • He set up 47 new parishes.
  • He bought back many of the religious houses those were confiscated during the revolution and returned to the former owners.
  • He formed an “excellent body of clergy.”
  • He was very close to the priests and supportive of their pastoral ministry.
  • He got several Religious Congregations to open their houses.
his service to the marist brothers
His service to the Marist Brothers.
  • Four schools were opened in his Diocese.
  • A House was bought to establish a Novitiate in Vauban. It is called,
  • “Chateau of Vauban,” It was opened on 8th. Dec. 1839.
  • He had very good rapport with the Fr. Champagnat and the Bros. It was genuinely friendly and rooted in real respect for them.
A brief extract of a letter would reveal this…
  • On 24th May 1840, he wrote the following letter to Fr. Champagnat: “Father Superior, I am very upset to learn that you are suffering. I hope this illness will not have an unfortunate outcome and that the Blessed Virgin will soon give you back to all your children………………….I myself visited your brothers and the few novices who are there. Everything appeared to be still in its infancy. It is very good to begin in humility, for it is written,” exaltavit humiles.” I very much hope you will be able to act accordingly; other wise we will languish for a long time…………Accept Fr. Superior,the assurance of my respectful devotedness, Béninge, bishop of Autun. I was pleased to see that nothing had been changed in the layout of the Chateau and the enclosure. You must continue that way.”
He wrote again to Founder repeating his wishes for early recovery. By the time the letter reached him the founder had left this world.
  • The bishop extended the sane sentiments of respect and love to Br. Francois as well. The latter once wrote to the bishop.” My Lord, I am very happy to profit by this occasion to express to your Grandeur my great thankfulness for the number of sacrifices you have made for the house in Vauban and for the very fatherly kindness you have always shown us. Please believe that we will always do all we can to respond to so many favors and that we are ready to fly anywhere You Grandeur sees fit to us. The Novitiate in Vauban is flourishing, there are already a certain number of subjects who will do well once they are sufficiently formed. I hope we will soon be in a condition to open all the establishments which we will be asked to take on in the Diocese of Autun.”
  • Date of birth : 1811 0r 1812.
  • Place : Vienne.
  • Enters Hermitage : 12th Nov. 1835. at the age of 24.
  • Postulancy begins : 22nd May 1836.
  • First Vows : 22nd May 1836
  • Final Vows : !0th Oct. 1836. He is one of those who made public vows for the first time.
He had done military service for some time. So there was the possibility of him calling back to complete the same.
  • Fr. Champagnat has informed about him to the mayor by a letter on 12th. Feb 1837.
  • Br. De la Croix writes to Fr. Champagnat on 26th. May in 1837, that is roughly 6 months after his arrival in the new school. Among other things he says,”…if I do not become a catechist some day I will try to be a good teacher. I am with respect….”
  • A new parish priest by the name Fr. Sèbastian comes and visits the brothers and he writes to Fr. Founder on 9th. Feb. in 1838. “ My first visit was to the good Bros. you sent us. I was very satisfied with the visit; I found everything in perfect order. The whole parish speaks highly of brothers and appreciates them as much as I do.”
  • He leaves the Congregation before the middle of 1838 and Br.Cyprian is appointed in his place.
semur en brionnais
  • It is a place in the department of Saon- et- Loire.
  • The population was around 1540 in 1840.
  • There had been a town school run by a layman by the name Mr. D’ Avranche. He was considered a saint by the people in the town.
  • He was getting old and a replacement was needed. It is said that he himself approached Fr. Champagnat to ask for brothers. Later, the parish priest Fr.Béraud took the matter with Fr. Champagnat.
  • The school was taken over by the Bros. in 1836 Nov. 24th. Bro. DE La Croix as the Director.
  • The school continues with ups and downs till 1870. A certain crisis happens instigated by “ two fanatics – citizen Perret ,the notary and Sordin the registrar. Br. Director Appèlis was dismissed by the prefect Morrain.”
  • A lay teacher replaced the Brothers. He was not up to the expectations of the people. So much so,” later the inspector himself had to agree to the Bros’ return.” Bros came back to the school and continued the good work until the fatal crisis in1903.
Bishop Bénigne mentions in his letter, “ I had and opportunity to appreciate the quality of the Brothers you are training with such zeal…… “ The quality of anything becomes conspicuous when there is no quality or less quality in something or someone. In this case the Bishop is talking about the quality of teaching of the Bros. and of their lives as religious brothers.
Let us see how Jean Baptist describes the teachers of that time, “ Its godless teacher training colleges soon filled the country with mercenary and in many cases irreligious teachers. These sometimes became the enemies of the parish priests, the scourge of the parishes and source of revolutionary principles. When the presence of such teachers came to be known, there was an almost universal rejection of them. The people turned against them on all sides, and clamored for Brothers. No sacrifice was considered too great to have them.”(Life page184)
Let us look at what a Principal of Teacher Training College has to say about the teachers in State schools, “ The great majority of the student teachers come from farms. Now the country - people are selfish, greedy, uncivilized and lacking in sympathy. A woman is just a female, and the children are just machines to have their growing strength exploited. Despondency enters the house on the loss of a cow, but the eyes remain dry on the death of a son or a father; the veterinary surgeon is called at the least sign of sickness of an ox or an ass, but any females or children are left without up to the moment when their condition has become incurable. The sons of peasants promoted to become teachers still remain peasants in their tastes, their habits and their minds; they want the best of everything, being jealous of the riches of the Bourgeoisie.” (Farrel page160) Remark made in 1846.
The Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics made the following observation in 1838.
  • “ They are a danger, menacing society with half- educated arrogant teachers, whose ambition was both excited and derived after entering these imprudently established Teachers’ Colleges with their too lofty and sophisticated customs.” (Farrel Page160)
The letter under our discussion is in the year 1837. “ 1837 was incontestably year of prosperity for the Marist Brothers……Looking at the ensemble of events of that year, we get the feeling that after victoriously surviving the major crisis which threatened the its existence, the institute was now “ taking off.”…….it had now sunk its roots; they were still fragile to sure, but they gave it a certain identity of its own, which was recognized by a constantly growing number 0f people. And which could be defined in a Rule…….The political and social climate , it is true, contributed to this, through the hope in the future which was being reborn in many hearts after so many years of disorder and uncertainty.”(Booklet Page28)
attitudes of marcellin
  • Profound respect for Hierarchy.
  • Concern about the progress, prosperity and success of the schools.
  • Reciprocal attitude.
mentality of marcellin
  • A man of vision.
  • A law abiding citizen.
  • Transparency . Doing the things in the correct way.
  • Excellent ability to cooperate with the Hierarchy.
  • Missionary minded.
  • A person of zeal and zest.
biblical allusions
  • Mt. 28: 19 -20 “ Go, therefore , make disciples of all the nations;
  • baptize them in the name of the Father ,and or the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach then to observe all the commandments I gave you. And look ,I am with you always , yes to the end of time.”
  • Mk. 12: 17 Jesus said to them,” Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar and God what belongs to God.”
places where intuitions
Places Where intuitions….
  • Const. Article. 90. “ Our plans include all the dioceses of the world.”
  • PS 93. Fr. Champagnat writes the same statement to Bishop Philibert De Bruillard of Grenoble, on Feb. 15 1837.
  • Const. Article. 81. “ Father Champagnat was alive with zeal born of the Gospels and knew how to respond effectively to specific problems…………………………………
  • As Marist Brothers, animated by the same zeal, we continue the charism of the Founder by responding to the expectations and needs of today’s young people”
  • LIFE Chapter twenty is all about the teaching of the Founder on ZEAL It is entitled,” His zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.” Fr. Champagnat commented,” True zeal is generous and constant…..”
pharases that impact on you
  • “………the quality of Brothers you are training with such zeal for the excellent task of educating children.”
  • “ Our plans include all the dioceses in the world….” A prophetic statement.
personal reflections
  • Foundation is well laid. Prosperity, stabilization and expansion begin to take place. For the Founder who has sweated and toiled day and night, endured arduous hardships has some consolation to see, “the Institute was now taking off.”
  • Demand for the Marist Brothers and their schools keep on increasing. It is perhaps due to its unique style of educating the children and the trust and confidence they command.
  • The Institute has gained its own IDENTITY.
  • By this time many of the first Brothers have come of maturity. They have gained experience, competence and authority. These they use to help the younger brothers.
the end
The end…

Thank you.