Marist Brothers

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Marist Brothers
Motto Ad Jesum per Mariam" -To Jesus through Mary
Formation 2 January 1817 (198 years ago)
Type Catholic Religious Institute
  • Global
Superior General
Br. Emili Turu, F.M.S.
Key people
St. Marcellin Champagnat, Founder
Website Institute of the Marist Brothers and The Marist Brothers

The Marist Brothers is an international community of Catholic Religious Institute of Brothers. In 1817, St. Marcellin Champagnat, a priest from France, founded the Marist Brothers, with the goal of educating young people, especially those most neglected. While most of the Brothers minister in school settings, others work with young people in parishes, religious retreats and spiritual accompaniment, at-risk youth settings, young adult ministry and overseas missions.


Saint Marcellin Champagnat,
founder of the Marist Brothers

St. Marcellin Champagnat decided to start an institute of consecrated brothers in the Marist tradition, building schools for the underprivileged where they might learn to become "Good Christians and Good people". The decision was inspired by an event, when as a parish priest he was called to administer the last rites to a dying boy named Jean Baptiste Montagne. Trying to lead the boy through his last moments in prayer, Marcellin was struck by the fact that the young man had no gauge of Christianity or prayer. From that moment, Champagnat decided to start training brothers to meet the faith needs of the young people of France.

On January 2, 1817, the 23-year-old Jean Marie Granjon and Jean Baptist Audras, fourteen and a half years of age, moved into the small house that Fr. Champagnat had rented for them in La Valla and which became the first Marist Brothers community. Their day consisted of prayer, work and study; their manual work was to make nails, an activity that helped to pay expenses. Marcellin taught them reading and writing, and he looked after their formation as religious educators. Other young men joined the undertaking, among them Gabriel Rivat who, as Brother François, would later become the Brothers' first Superior General.

As a Marist priest, Champagnat had a particular affinity for the Blessed Virgin Mary, so upon conception of the idea of Marist Brothers, Champagnat chose to call his brothers Petits Frères de Marie (Little Brothers of Mary), emphasising the meekness and humbleness he wished them to pursue, and seeking their consecration to her as an exemplar of fidelity to Christ. In 1863, 23 years after Champagnat's death, the Marist Brothers institute received the approbation of the Holy See, whereupon the order received the title of Fratres Maristae a Scholis (Marist Brothers of the Schools), hence the post-nominal letters of FMS. They received a particular mandate to follow the Marist Fathers to the Pacific and administer to the new colonies of the Pacific nations and Australia. This harkens back to a Marist legend about Champagnat.

A favourite maxim of St. Marcellin was that he wanted "to make Jesus known and loved" throughout the world, and to demonstrate he would run a needle through an apple (representing the earth) as an example of how he wanted the message of "Ad Jesum per Mariam" or "To Jesus through Mary" to cross the globe. The end of the needle came out in what would be the equivalent of the Pacific in relation to France where he inserted the needle, and so thus the Marist Brothers have a well-recognised presence throughout the Pacific, but particularly in Australia and New Zealand.

International presence[edit]

The Marist Brothers are involved in educational work throughout the world and now conduct primary and secondary schools, academies, industrial schools, orphanages and retreat houses in 79 countries on five continents: Europe, Africa, The Americas, Asia, and Oceania.

From their roots in Lyons, the Brothers today have spread across the globe. Over their nearly 200 year history, Marist Brothers have had ministries in over 100 different nations. Presently there are approximately 3,500 brothers in 79 countries on 5 continents, working directly and sharing their mission and spirituality with more than 40,000 lay Marists, and together educating close to 500,000 children and young people.

The international Marist brotherhood is led by a Superior General, currently Br. Emili Turu F.M.S. Together with the Vicar General and a General Council, it is his job to guide the growth and administration of the various ministries of the Brothers across the globe, from the General House in Rome. The Marist Brothers are divided into two main administrative units, either "provinces" or "districts", depending on size. Provinces are led by a Provincial, whose job it is to oversee and make deliberations on behalf of the Superior General for the Province he leads. There are presently 26 provinces and 5 districts. Depending on the extent of ministries within a certain country, there may be multiple provinces within the one country. For example, Brazil has three provinces and two districts and Australia has two, as does Mexico.



Marist Brothers in the world


The Marist Brothers' first international mandate was to the Pacific, where they accompanied Marist Fathers in evangelizing and education ministries. Today, Marist brothers own and run many technical colleges in the Central and Western Pacific, educating young men in nations ravaged by war (such as the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea).

Marist Brothers arrived in Australia in 1872, where they opened their first school at The Rocks, New South Wales. There are now over 300 Brothers working with young people in schools as teachers and administrators, in retreat houses and camps for young people and in other areas of ministry. Australian Marist Brothers also serve in welfare ministries working with young adults in outreach programs in indigenous Australian communities and also in missions in nearby Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and East Timor. Marists from Australia also serve communities in Cambodia and India. The two provinces are Melbourne (States of Victoria, WA, South Australia and Northern Territory) and Sydney (Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and Cambodia).

Oceania is divided into the following 4 Administrative Units:

Marist Brothers are noted for the impact they have had on Catholic education in the Oceania region. As of 3 December 2007, the Prime Ministers of Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga were all educated by Marist Brothers.


Europe is the heartland of the Marist project, centring particularly on the region of France which Marcellin called home. Many schools, universities, youth ministries and social works are done by the Marists in this area. The administration of European Marists is done by:

  • Province of Compostela (Spain, Honduras and Portugal)
  • Province of West Central Europe (Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and United Kingdom)
  • Province of Iberia (Spain)
  • Province de l'Hermitage (Algeria, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary and Switzerland)
  • Mediterranean Province (Spain, Italy, Lebanon and Syria)

Celtic Football Club was formed at a meeting in St. Mary's church hall in Glasgow, by Marist Brother Walfrid on November 6, 1887, with the purpose stated in the official club records as "being to alleviate poverty in Glasgow's East End parishes". The charity established by Brother Walfrid was named 'The Poor Children's Dinner Table'.

North America[edit]

The North American provinces are particularly based around secondary and tertiary education. Many American celebrities have been educated in American Marist schools, including Sean "P Diddy" Combs, David Hasselhoff, Ray Romano and many others. The North American provinces are:

  • Province of Canada
  • Province of the United States

Latin America[edit]

In Latin America, "Maristas" are also very active in the following countries: Chile, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Peru, El Salvador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela and other countries as well. The largest number of brothers currently are natives from Spain and France. The Marist presence in these countries is divided into the following provinces:

Brazil :

  • District of Amazonia (Brazil)
  • Federal District (Brazil)
  • Province of North Central Brazil
  • Province of South Central Brazil
  • Province of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

Rest of Latin America :

  • Province of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica)
  • Province of the Southern Cross (Argentina and Uruguay)
  • Province of Central Mexico
  • Province of Western Mexico (Mexico and Haiti)
  • Province of the Northern Andes (Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela)
  • District of Paraguay
  • Province of Santa Maria of the Andes (Bolivia, Chile and Peru)


Marist brothers are active in a number of African countries, including Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Marist brothers have been martyred in Africa on many occasions for educating and protecting refugee people. The administrative groupings of Marists in Africa are:

Marist saints and martyrs[edit]

Many Marist Brothers have also been martyred for teaching and reaching out to the poor and uneducated in places where they are not welcome.[1] Some are also pending investigation into the possibility of canonisation. On October 31, 1996, four Brothers were killed by refugees and martyred in a mission in Nyamirangwe (Bugobe), Zaire. These brothers were all Spanish: Br. Fernando de la Fuente de la Fuente, Br. Miguel Ángel Isla Lucio, Br. Servando Mayor García, and Br. Julio Rodríguez Jorge.

On October 28, 2007, the Vatican beatified 498 saints who died as martyrs in the Spanish Civil War. Among the 498 were 47 Marist Brothers from the dioceses of Burgos, Cartagena, Girona, Lleida, Palencia, Pamplona and Tudela, San Sebastian, Solsona, Terrassa, Teruel and Albarracin, Urgell and Vic. The Beatification Mass was presided over by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins.

Notable Marist Brothers[edit]

  • Brother Ignatius O'Connor, founder of Marist College Ashgrove, Queensland
  • Brother Walfrid, founder of the Celtic Football Club, Glasgow
  • Brother Fernando de la Fuente de la Fuente, one of the The Martyrs of Bugobe
  • Brother Emili Turu, Current Supeior General of the Marist Brothers
  • Brother Joseph Mc Kee, Current Vicar General of the Marist Brothers
  • Brother Pedro Sánchez de León, Current Secretary General of the Marist Brothers
  • Brother Ben Consigli, Current Provincial of the United States of the Marist Brothers
  • Brother Seán Sammon, former Superior General
  • Brother Charles Howard, former Superior General, and in 1997 he was declared a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of his service to the Catholic Church and the community, particularly in the fields of education, social justice and reform. In 2000 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the Australian Catholic University
  • Brother Joche Albert Ly, a Chinese Marist Brother Martyr, killed for his opposition to Communism
  • Brother Jean-Paul Desbiens, Canadian writer, journalist, and teacher
  • Brother Kevin Handibode, President of Christopher Columbus High School (Miami) and has received numerous awards and recognition's throughout his career including being bestowed with the Papal Cross, the highest medal that can be awarded by the Papacy, in recognition for his outstanding witness to the Catholic faith and devotion to Catholic education
  • Brother Eugene Trzecieski, Marist Brother and teacher at Christopher Columbus High School (Miami), has worked at Christopher Columbus High School for the last 43 year and holds the title of the teacher who taught at Columbus for the most number of years. Taught at Columbus from 1968 until 2010. Early in his career he came up with a quote that he began teaching to his students; “A mind made noble, leads a noble life.” It has been his motto ever since
  • Brother Eladio Gonzalez, Marist Brother, freshman guidance counselor, and teacher at Christopher Columbus High School (Miami), created the Squires Service Club 19 years ago at the school. Since then, his charges have visited nursing homes, Ryder Trauma Center, churches, Camillus House, migrant camps in Florida City and Homestead and other places of need
  • Brother Kenneth Curtin, Marist Brother and teacher at Christopher Columbus High School (Miami) and other schools in the U.S. 1945-2013
  • Brother Stephen Smyth, General Secretary (2007-2014) of Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Marist martyrs". The MARIST Brothers. Retrieved 20 April 2011. 

External links[edit]