Marist Fathers and Brothers
Marists are men and women who strive to live the Gospel the way Mary lived it. We are scattered to the four corners of the world but united in one heart and one mind under the patronage of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We gather into religious congregations and lay movements: The Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary, the Marist Sisters, the Marist Brothers, the Priests and Brothers of the Society of Mary, and many groups of lay Marists.
To be a Marist is to have a sense of being chosen and called by Mary — "by gracious choice" — to live compassionately and mercifully as she did as mother and disciple of Christ.
The Marist Mission
Marists are engaged in the “work of Mary,” as understood by their founder Jean-Claude Colin. In everything that they do, they seek to participate in Mary's desire to see the Gospel of Jesus take root in our contemporary world. They work to transform the church to reflect “the face of Mary,” a spirit that is gentle, loving, humble, relational, compassionate, open, inclusive and merciful.
The Society of Mary
The Marist Fathers and Brothers were started by a group of 12 seminarians in Lyon, France around 1816. For the next 20 years, four of them (Fr. Jean-Claude Colin, Fr. Marcellin Champagnat, Fr. Etienne Declas and Fr. Etienne Terraillion) would devote their energies to making the Marist project a reality.
Fr. Jean-Claude Colin is acknowledged as the founder of the Marist Fathers and Brothers having taken a leadership role since the 1820s. In 1836, the Holy See approved the Marist Fathers and Brothers (Society of Mary). The Church saw them as missionaries bringing the Good News in Mary’s way — being a presence in the Church as Mary was in the early Church.
The Marists came to the United States in 1863 during the middle of the American Civil War. Within a year of their arrival, they founded a school and began an education ministry that extends to the present. Some 90 Marist Fathers and Brothers live and work in the United States today.
A crucial part of the work of Marists is to invite and pass their spirit on to others particularly lay people. Fr. Colin and the other early Marists believed that the work given to them also belonged to dedicated lay people who would immerse themselves in the Marist spirit and give it life in a variety of different places.
The Society of Mary is divided into seven provinces and three missionary districts around the world. In the United States there is one province with the center in Washington D.C.