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Recovering the riches of the Founder



Ten years on from the Canonization (VI)

14/04/2009: General House

In this effort of rereading the Founder, there are many nuances. For Cardinal Poupard « Marcellin has contributed to the enriching of popular culture. Thanks to him and to many others, the Church has done the work of culture in every kind of milieu… and that is not foreign to the cultural radiance of the contemporary Church!» (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999).

Monseigneur Billé, archbishop of Lyon, rejoices that an educator has been canonized: « Today, the world and the Church have urgent need of Christian educators who believe ardently in their irreplaceable mission» (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999).

Brother Alexandre Balko scrutinizes Marcellin’s soul and writes: «The adolescent Marcellin already possesses the riches of heart which make him very receptive to friendship… The elements of the Marist educational style have their main source in the personality of the founder. Marcellin’s soul is characterized by a fundamental simplicity which directs him towards children and constitutes an important aspect of his vocation as educator. This simplicity brings with it transparency of soul, ease of contact, cordiality, brotherhood.» (Fr. Alexandre Balko, (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999)

Brother Gabriel Michel has especially emphasized Champagnat’s accessibility, recalling what he said in his first sermon in La Valla, when he wanted to set the tone of his ministry: « The Lord Jesus is always in the tabernacle, and we can go and see him when we wish. It will be the same for me. Come when you wish. You will not disturb me.» (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999).

Father Hubert Bonnet-Eymard, at the time Provincial of the Society of Mary in France, and now Councillor General, said : « Of Marcellin, I preserve two strong images : in the first place the way in which he insisted, at the moment of his death, in placing his testament in the hands of the Superior General of the Marist Fathers, Jean Claude Colin. Without ignoring the tensions which marked the beginnings, I see there an urgent appeal for unity. I have also before my eyes the modern portrait of their Founder which the Brothers have had the insight to draw: the portrait of a man young and dynamic. And I have come to envy them, for myself and for the whole Church, for being able to identify themselves with a man in the flower of his age.» (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999).

A « Man Simple, Humble, of Living Faith ». These are the words used to characterize Marcellin Champagnat in the Introduction to the Proper of the Mass in the diocese of St Etienne. (Father Marcel Epalle, parish priest of the parish of Saint Louis, Saint-Etienne. Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999). As for Father Bernard Morellon, native of Marlhes, he leaves us this impression: « In the life of Marcellin what has most influenced me in my seminary life and my ministry is the regard he had for the youth of his time. Marcellin was struck by the fact that in the country the young were working and therefore had little time available for school and for religious education. His objective: that every child, every youth know that he was loved by God!… Marcellin’s regard for each young person was charged with the REGARD of God.» (Présence mariste, 3ème trimestre 1999).

Br. Giovanni Bigotto

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