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27 October 1837 — Jean-Claude Colin to Marcellin Champagnat

From the microfilm of the original sent in the author’s hand, AFM; edited in Circ. P. F. M., t. 1, p. 235-236.

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Monsieur / Monsieur l’abbé Champagnat supérieur / des frères, ou à son absence, celui qui le remplace / A Notre Dame de l’Ermitage / par St Chamond / Loire
BELLEY (1) 27 OCT 1837 — St CHAMOND --

[p. 1]

Belley, 27th October 1837.

My very dear confrère,
Remember that the Brother I am asking you for is continually in the midst of children belonging to select families; he must be well-mannered, well-bred. He must also have a good hand for writing and be morally sound, for he sleeps in the childrens' dormitory and is called upon at all times to do services for them that demand of him a tried virtue. Can you count on a novice whom you only know from the reports of strangers? I have asked for Billemaz, because I was afraid of getting another even less suited than he is, and because, moreover, all these changes may upset the whole house.
I very much doubt whether Brother Valerien (a tall fellow, something of a musician) will be able to replace Brother Marie, in every respect, furthermore he has willingly consented to return. I shall bend over backwards to please you, but you, too, must try to give us what we reasonably need, otherwise you would get us into difficulties, and you would give the confrères un unfavourable impression of your Brothers if you did not give some one competent. I therefore leave the choice of the Brother you are going to send us, to you, but I shall complain if you serve us badly and attend to it myself in another way.
It is in the interest of the Society that the houses of the priests be well served, and for this we should have even fewer establishments if necessary.
I have in mind a great reform in the government and direction of the Brothers, and I expect from you a truly religious obedience which will be for your security and you happiness. But, first of all, let us pray fervently that the good Lord will enlighten us and give us His Spirit. I would not wish for all the gold in the world consciously to put into these plans a single one of my own ideas, because I am sure that the good Lord would cease to bless us. You appear to me to have very fixed ideas on certain points, and in this I doubt that you are doing God's will.
Providence has given you Fr. Chanut to help you. Train him well; avoid dealing with things in a off-hand fashion. Avoid likewise all kind of jokes which I regard as completely opposed to the religious spirit.
Remember me kindly to all the confrères. I shall write to Fr. Lagniet to map out his policy at la Favorite. In the meantime, tell him that he will have to take a hand in the purely spiritual life of the house; that he will stand aside from all other matters.
I embrace you as well as the Brothers and especially Brother François with the most sincere affection.
I remain respectfully
Your most humble servant
Colin, sup.