Marianist Background

This text was taken from The Marianists brochure and is intended to provide more information about the Marianist background and beliefs.

The Marianist Doxology

May the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

The Society of Mary (Marianists), founded in France in 1817 by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, is an international religious order of priests and brothers. More than 600 serve in the Province of the United States which includes India, Eastern Africa, and Mexico. In the U.S., the Marianists sponsor three universities, 18 high schools, 10 parishes, and five retreat centers. the Marianists have had a presence in the United States since 1849.

We Are the Family

There are three branches of the Marianist Family tree:

  • Lay Marianists – Women and men committed to the Marianist charism.
  • The Society of Mary – Vowed religious brothers and priests known as Marianists.
  • The Daughters of Mary Immaculate – Also known as the Marianist sisters.

The Marianist Family is a worldwide community of men and women dedicated to the Marianist charism. We embrace Mary’s words at the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.”

Our Roots

The Marianist Family was born in the violence of the French Revolution, s three dedicated colleagues sought to renew the Church in their country. William Joseph Chaminade, a priest, worked with Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon and Marie-Therese Charlotte de Lamourous to found small faith communities known as sodalities. They believed lay communities, modeled on the discipleship of the Blessed Mother, would bring their country back to Christ.

The lay Marian Sodality movement grew and spread, and some members wished to make a more complete commitment to the Church. In response, Chaminade and Adele founded the Daughters of Mary Immaculate – the Marianist sisters – in 1816. The Society of Mary – Marianist brothers and priests – was established in 1817.

The Marianist Charism

A charism is the set of distinct characteristics – given by the Holy Spirit – that animate a religious community. The Marianist charism revolves around these qualities:

Faith – the focus of our lives and ministry.
Community – where we find strength and how we minister.
Mary – dedication to her and her ongoing mission of bringing Christ to the world.
Education – our means of spreading the Gospel.
Social Justice – how we pursue transformation of the world.
Service – especially to the poor and youth.

Marianists believe that people learn, work and serve most effectively in community. We believe community is the best context for faith to develop and flourish.

Vowed Marianists live, pray, and care for each other in communities. Lay Marianists are typically aligned with formal or informal communities. Some Lay Marianist communities exist almost entirely online!

“A Discipleship of Equals”

Priests and brothers in the Society of Mary share equal status. This philosophy extends to other branches of the Marianist Family as well, with lay people and Marianist sisters serving alongside brothers and priests in a spirit of collaboration. Together, we value and employ the gifts each person brings to ministry and community.

Marianists at Work

Marianists believe that faith is communicated in how we work and live, not just in what we do in a working life. While most vowed Marianists – sisters, priests, and brothers – work at secondary schools and universities, others serve at parishes or retreat centers. Still others serve in spiritual formation roles, in social services and as artists.

In many walks of daily life, religious and Lay Marianists draw on the strength of their community to serve as living witnesses of the Gospel

Mary as Our Model

In Mary, Blessed Chaminade saw the model of Christian discipleship, simplicity and hospitality. He believed an “alliance with Mary” would renew and transform the Church.

“Mary’s fidelity to the grace of her conception makes her the most perfect model, after Jesus Christ, of our fidelity to grace,” Chaminade wrote.

With the Blessed Mother as our model, Marianists strive to be nurturing, accepting, joyful, forgiving, and firm in faith.