Society of Mary

Marist Fathers and Brothers

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What we do

"Their call is to be truly missionary: they are to go from place to place, announcing the word of God, reconciling, catechizing, visiting the sick and the imprisoned, and doing the works of mercy. They attend especially the most neglected, the poor, and those who suffer injustice. they are ready to carry out these tasks anywhere and at any time." - Constitutions SM, 12 

Our desire for the kingdom of God has taken Marists into many lands. There are just under one thousand members of the Society of Mary grouped into eleven administrative areas: 7 provinces and 4 districts, with our general headquarters in Rome.

  • Evangelisation

    They learn from their founder and like him from Mary, how to approach the work of evangelization so that the Gospel may be received in all its power and clarity. Fired with apostolic zeal for the Kingdom, they follow the Lord in emptying themselves of all self-seeking so that nothing will prevent the word of God from being heard. It was by coming into the world in obscurity and poverty that Jesus drew men and women to His Father. – Constitutions 23.

    “Foreign” missions
    From its earliest days members of the Society of Mary were being sent from France to the other side of the world to bring the Gospel to those who had never heard it. In January 1836 Pope Gregory XVI confided the Catholic missions of Western Oceania in the South Pacific to the newly formed Marist Fathers and, in the light of their courageous acceptance of the mission the following April Rome gave its approval to the Society as a legitimate religious congregation. On the following 12 September the first Marists made their profession. Within three months, on Christmas Eve 1836, the first group of Marist missionaries left for Western Oceania.

    Since that time the mission has taken Marists into all five continents.

    In the same spirit, today Marists are still prepared to leave family and country to places where the needs of the people are great. Today, young men from the island nations of the South Pacific are able to bring the gospel to lands “foreign” to them.

    “Home” missions
    It was particularly the need of the Church in rural France to be revitalized after the devastation of the revolution that inspired John Claude Colin and his companions to found the Society of Mary; to establish a band of missionaries to go out into the villages and hamlets of the Bugey district to catechize, baptize, to preach and absolve.

    In 1824 Jean-Claude Colin and his brother Pierre Colin, in the parish of Cerdon, were joined by Etienne Déclas, to form the first little band that would put into effect that mission amongst believers. Pierre considered this the formation moment of the Society: “Today the little Society of Mary begins!”

    Today the Church calls for a new evangelization of those lands where once the Word of God flourished but is now being choked by the thorns of secularism, consumerism and neglect. Into this world the Society of Mary is called to bring the saving Word of Christ in the spirit of Mary. 

  • Education

    The education of children, adolescents and young people has long been a focal ministry for Marists.  Fr Colin described young people as "God's children that are entrusted to us" and he described the formation of the human person as "a sublime task”. Further, to educate a person in a Christian way was “a heavenly work”, a kind of “second creation”.

    He showed himself to be a wise and gifted teacher who had a special love and affection for young people and a deep admiration for the work of education.  This ministry continues today through those Marists who work in schools and those with whom they work.

    Marists minister as administrators, teachers, counselors and chaplains in schools in a number of countries including Africa, Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Tonga, USA.

    In recent years Marist have also become involved in less institutional ways of ministering to youth, especially with concern for those in special need, those marginalized by society, for example: children of asylum seekers, street kids, the handicapped, in Thailand, New Zealand, Africa, Italy.

    Another branch of education that Marists have served in over many years has been the education of adults in universities, colleges, and seminaries. 

  • Missionary Parishes & City-Centre Churches

    Marists work in parishes alongside their diocesan and religious brother priests. They endeavour to bring to their ministry of service an explicitly "missionary" focus. This shows itself in the way that Marist parishes are:

    • ►communities of faith
    • ►based on a partnership of laity and priests 
    • ►living out the mission of Christ, particularly in evangelization and in service to the poor and marginalized 
    • ►reaching out to and entering into dialogue with all persons of good will 
    • ►having a keen sense of social issues, particularly at the local level 
    • ►and in close contact with the missionary efforts of the worldwide Church.  

     In order to bring the gospel into the centre of the modern secular city-life, Marists minister in a number of churches at key central sites in a number of cities like London and Sydney. Their ministries focus on different forms of evangelization to city workers, itinerants, the poor and neglected of modern city life.