Society of Mary (Marianists)

The Society of Mary, a Roman Catholic Marian Society, is a congregation of brothers and priests called the Marianists or Marianist Brothers and Priests. The society was founded by William Joseph Chaminade, a priest who survived the anti-clerical persecution during the French Revolution. The society is one of the four branches of the Marianist Family. Along with the other branches, the Marianist Brothers and Priests look to Mary as a model of faith and spirituality. They believe that the best ways to live a spiritual life are to share their faith with others, work with the poor, and educate and nourish the mind, the body, and the soul.

Marianists around the world

There are about 1,200 Marianists: 405 priests, two bishops, and 800 brothers, on four continents and in 38 countries. The Marianists say that they "devote the major part of their efforts to inculturation to become rooted in new countries, in Asia and Africa, and also to be in tune with the surrounding cultures that challenge us and that we call modern or postmodern."[1]

Formation process

Men who pursue a vocation with the Society of Mary follow an intense formation process that leads them to examine themselves and their spirituality. The first step to becoming a Marianist is to be a Contact. Contacts learn about the religious institute and themselves through retreats and through the guidance of a Marianist whom they contact regularly. The next step is the Aspirancy – a 10-month journey of living with a Marianist community and following its daily practices. Each aspirant works in a ministry to further his understanding of Marianist spirituality and his own faith. At the end of this period, one enters the Novitiate, which is a 20-month period divided over 2 years. During that time, the novice learns about the institute and spends time deeply discerning his call to the institute.

At the end of the Novitiate, the novice professes Temporary Vows. He must annually renew the vows for at least 3 years. At the end of that time, the brother can decide to enter into Perpetual Profession, in which the brother professes the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. In addition, some brothers study to become priests at the International Marianist Seminary in Rome, Italy.

Marianists in North America


The Marianists are active in Canada, where the late Archbishop Raymond Roussin, S.M., D.D., one of their number, was head of the archiepiscopal see of Vancouver from 2004 to 2009.

United States

The United States is home to two Marianist provinces: the Province of the United States and the Province of Meribah.

The Province of Meribah, which became separate in 1976, operates only in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, New York. There it runs an educational complex: Chaminade High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School (including the Bro. Joseph C. Fox Latin School Division, for 6-8 graders); and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School (pre-k though grade 8). It also runs four retreat houses: Emmanuel (on Kellenberg property)[2], Saragossa (on Chaminade property)[3], Meribah (Muttontown, NY), and Founder's Hollow (Accord, NY).[4] The Provincial of the Province of Meribah is Brother Timothy S. Driscoll, S.M.[5] Since the Province of Meribah was created, it has maintained in common the life of prayer, the educational apostolate, and religious garb. The brothers' motto, Servire Quam Sentire (serve with feeling), captures well the spirit which animates the members of the Province. They seek to put their own fears and reservations aside, and to serve the Lord with gladness and with joy.[6]

The Province of the United States recently updated their mission statement as follows:

Empowered by the Holy Spirit and inspired by the dynamism of Blessed Chaminade's charism, we – brothers and priests – vowed religious in the Marianist Family, live in community as equals. Through lives of prayer and Gospel service, we dedicate ourselves to the following of Jesus Christ, Son of God become Son of Mary. Wherever we are sent we invite others to share in Mary's Mission of making Christ present in every age and culture by forming persons and communities of apostolic faith that advance justice and reconciliation. Committed to education, we minister with youth and in solidarity with the poor.[7]

Members of the Marianist Province of the United States are concentrated in Honolulu, Hawaii; St. Louis, Missouri; Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; San Antonio, Texas; and Omaha, Nebraska. The Province runs three universities (the University of Dayton in Dayton, OH; St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX; and Chaminade University in Honolulu, HI), eighteen high schools, six elementary schools, two middle schools, five retreat centers, and seven parishes. Actor and activist Martin Sheen has credited his dedication to public causes to his Marianist education at Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio. Charles J. Pedersen, 1987 Nobel laureate in chemistry, attended a Marianist high school, and thence chose to attend the Marianist University of Dayton.[8]

Marianists in Europe


The Marianists remain active in France, where they were first founded. The Society's Province of France includes 112 brothers and priests in 17 "houses," or community residences, in France, Belgium, and Tunisia. Fifty-eight are posted to the Ivory Coast and Congo region. Within the French Province, the Marianists operate eight schools. They also run three spiritual centers (at La Madeleine, St. Avold, and Le Vic), two residences for university students, and an extensive scholarship program for Marianist schools. In addition, they serve in youth ministry, pastoral work, and hospital chaplaincy.[9]


The Marianists' world headquarters is located in Rome, Italy.


In 1967, Archbishop John Charles McQuaid of Dublin invited Marianists from the United States to establish a mission in Ireland. Still part of the Province of the United States, the Irish Marianists operate St. Laurence College in Loughlinstown, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown. They have also been active in diocesan youth ministry, school and prison chaplaincy, drug rehabilitation, work for peace and justice, and parish work. Four Irish Catholics have permanently joined the religious institute since 1976.


They came to Spain in 1830. In 1977, the Marianists in Spain established the Santa Maria Foundation, which publishes Marianist Editions and organizes pedagogical programs.[10] They operate the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid, the Santa Ana y San Rafael, and 15 more schools, some of which are considered among the best in Spain.


Fr. François Kieffer, a French Marianist priest, established the Villa St. Jean International School in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 1903, which operated until 1970.

Marianists in Latin America


The Marianists arrived from Spain in 1932, and founded their own school in Buenos Aires in the neighborhood of Caballito in 1935. It is still located there.[11] They also have a presence in Junín and Nueve de Julio in Buenos Aires province, and in General Roca, Río Negro province.


The Marianists have been active in Chile since 1948, invited by Cardinal Jose Maria Caro. In 1982, the institute formed the Province of Chile, along with the Province of Argentina, by dividing the Province of the Andes. The Marianists' educational institutions in Chile include Colegio Santa María de la Cordillera, Colegio Parroquial San Miguel, Instituto Miguel León Prado, and Instituto Linares.


The Marianists have founded various educational institutions such as Colegio Santa Maria Marianistas,[12] Colegio Maria Reina Marianistas,en 1965,[13] Colegio San Antonio Marianistas, Colegio San José Obrero Marianistas,[14] and El Instituto Chaminade Marianistas.

Puerto Rico

The Marianists have been active in Puerto Rico since 1938 when Colegio San José was founded, and is among the leading college preparatory schools of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

Marianists in Africa

Marianists came to Africa as missionaries in 1946. They are active in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, and Tunisia.


The Marianists operate Our Lady of Nazareth primary school and the IMANI counseling, job training, and child care center in Nairobi, and the Marianist Development Project, a similar institution, in Mombasa. They serve members of the Sudanese Diocese of Rumbec in northwest Kenya. They operate the St. Bakhita Formation Center, with a seminary and training schools for nurses, teachers, and catechists. In 1925, they founded the prestigious Mang'u High School in Kenya.[15]


The Marianists' projects are the Chaminade Secondary School and MIRACLE, a rural job-training service for youths orphaned by AIDS.


The Marianists teach at Matero Boys Secondary School, reach out to the alumni of that school, and help the surrounding diocese by celebrating Mass with their neighbors.[16]

Marianists in Asia and Australasia


The Marianists arrived in the Philippines in 2004. The congregation chose the more Islamic, southern part of the Philippines in the big city of Davao City as their mission area to establish presence.


Bro. Richard Joyal, a member of the Marianist Region of Canada, was sent by the Marianist General Administration to research a possible foundation in the Philippines. He arrived in Manila on January 22, 2004, and spent several months visiting Bishops and religious communities. In July, Richard attended the International Meeting for Marianist Formators held in Nairobi, Kenya (June 13 – July 11, 2004).

On the basis of his reports, the General Administration decided to establish the first Marianist religious community on the island of Mindanao, in Davao City.[17]

The community in Davao City was formed by October 2, 2004, by the arrival of Bros. Oscar Kerketta and Victor Sahayaraj from India, Fr. Pablo Rambaud from Spain, and Bro. Richard Joyal from Canada.


Fr. Pat Devlin SM (Marist Fathers) had begun caring for Filipino Street Children on May 4, 1989. Fr. Pat worked with Caritas of the Archdiocese of Davao until the program was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as "Foundation of Balay Pasilungan, Inc." From 1999 to 2005, the center was turned over to the Marist Sisters who worked with Filipino Street Children up to fifteen years of age.

In 2005 The Marianists in Davao adopted Balay Pasilungan as their Community apostolate. The center is accredited and is licensed to operate from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). In 2006 the executive Director was Bro. Richard Joyal, The Deputy Director was Fr. Pablo Rambaud with assistant Bro. Oscar Kerketta.


Marianists sent five expatriates to Japan in 1887, and in 1888 established a mission school, Gyosei Gakuen in Tokyo. They also established Kaisei Gakuen in Nagasaki in 1891, Osaka Meisei Gakuen in Osaka in 1898, and St. Joseph School in Yokohama in 1901.


The local parish priests of the western suburbs of Melbourne, Victoria, purchased a large block of 8 hectares in Altona that was transformed into the setting for St Paul’s by the parents of the first students. The main 3-storey classroom block was completed in 1969.

The Marianists conducted the College for twenty years, under Headmasters Brother John McCluskey, Brother William Callahan, Father Daniel Winters and Brother Donald McCoy. In 1985 the first lay principal, Mr. Christopher Dean, was appointed. In 1997 Mr. Christopher Stock was appointed principal.

A number of specialist buildings at St Paul’s campus have been named in recognition of the proud Marianist tradition of the College: Chaminade Library, Winters Arts Building, Our Lady’s Chapel, McCoy Hall, and Cassidy Technology Centre. The Jubilee Building was named in honour of Jubilee Year 2000.

The names of the College Houses also reflect Marianist heritage: Winters (green), Cassidy (red), McCoy (navy), McCluskey (yellow), Chaminade (sky blue).

Meanwhile, the Marianists were invited by a committee headed by Father Joseph Kealy to establish a boys' college in the southern Melbourne suburb of Frankston for years 7 to 12 (then forms 1 to 6). Marianist College opened in February 1973 with 166 boys and a staff of six under the direction of Brother Don Neff, SM. After preliminary discussions in 1976, it was announced in 1977 that Marianist College Frankston would merge with the adjacent Stella Maris College establishing a new regional coeducational college. After consultation with the Archbishop of Melbourne, parents, and students, the College Board determined that "John Paul College" would be the official name of the school. "John Paul College" was chosen to express the changes in the Catholic Church as a result of the Second Vatican Council (1962 –1965) under the leadership of popes John XXIII and Paul VI.


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  6. Who We Are
  7. "The Marianists - Marianist Province of the United States". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  8. "Charles J. Pedersen - Biographical". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  9. "Accueil". (in French). Retrieved 2017-05-27.
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  11. "Colegio Marianista Buenos Aires Argentina". Retrieved 2017-05-27.
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  14. "San José Obrero". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2017-05-30. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  15. "Precious Blood Girls tops list". Daily Nation. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
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