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The Marist Brothers in Nigeria held their annual retreat at the Marist Formation Centre in Orlu, Imo State from August 16-22. At Mass on the final day of the retreat, 14 young Marist Brothers renewed their temporary vows for another year.
Father Champagnat was by no means an academic. Having struggled through school, he was not inclined to write at length about abstract theological matters. As a man of practical faith, Champagnat's writings consisted primarily of the sermons he wrote for his parishioners and letters to a variety of individuals, most frequently his Marist Brothers dispatched to various schools. The letter below shows how adeptly he combined firmness and gentleness when admonishing an otherwise well-meaning individual:
23rd November 1834
Dear Brother Dominique,
I do not believe you are capable of doing something headstrong again. You know what can happen when one is unfortunate enough to do something like that. A little more humility and obedience would not hurt your situation any. If Bro. Liguori had told you that all the brothers had congratulated him for having you as his co-worker, would you have been so naive as to believe him? Dear Dominique, it is impossible for us to please everyone, no matter how we act.
You tell me that if your replacement doesn't arrive soon you will come to get him. That's easy to say, but we have no one at the motherhouse at the moment. If you come, you will have to go home just as you came. Shouldn't you have to pay back a little this year what you made those who were with you suffer? You are too honest to think you haven't contracted any obligations towards them. Patience, dear friend, patience; I will see you in a few days, and I will arrange everything for the best, with the help of God.
I would have answered you sooner, except for a trip I just made. While you are waiting, put yourself in Mary's arms; she will give you plenty of help to carry your cross.
Dear Dominique, I really do feel for you in your difficulties. God has sufficient revenue to repay you; you will lose nothing with him, not even interest; I guarantee it.
Meanwhile, tell Brother Liguori that I hold you all affectionately in my heart, and that I love you all; you, dear Dominique, because I know the difficulties you are facing in your position, the struggles you are going through, and the attachment you have shown me on so many occasions.
I leave you all in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary; they are such wonderful places, and we are so well off there!