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Marist Brothers

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Abbreviation  F.M.S.
Location  Global
Type  Roman Catholic
Motto  Ad Jesum per Mariam (To Jesus through Mary)
Formation  January 2, 1817; 200 years ago (1817-01-02)
Founder  Saint Marcellin Champagnat

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The Marist Brothers of the Schools, commonly known as simply 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.


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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.

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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.

Marist Brothers Marist Brothers

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.

Marist Brothers Our History Marist Brothers International School

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 provinces

Marist Brothers Our History Marist Brothers International School

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 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.


  • Mission Ad Gentes Marist District of Asia (Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, and Philippines)
  • Province of East Asia (Philippines, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Japan). These schools are part of this province: Maris Stella High School in Singapore, SMJK Sam Tet in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, Catholic High School, Malaysia in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Catholic High School in Melaka, Malaysia, Notre Dame of Cotabato, Marist School (Marikina) in Marikina City, Notre Dame of Marbel University and Notre Dame of Dadiangas University, Philippines and St. Francis Xavier's College and St. Francis Xavier's School in Hong Kong (alma mater of Bruce Lee, Sam Hui, and other celebrities)
  • Province of Souh Asia (India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka). Notable school: Maris Stella College in Negombo.
  • Oceania

    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 four administrative units:

  • District of Melanesia (New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu)
  • Province of Melbourne Australia and Timor Leste
  • Province of New Zealand (Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand and Samoa)
  • Province of Sydney, Australia and India.
  • 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.

    In June, July and August 2014 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, a royal commission of inquiry initiated in 2013 by the Australian Government and supported by all of its state governments, began an investigation into the response of Marist Brothers to allegations of child sexual abuse in schools in the ACT, NSW and Queensland. Five former students, one former teacher, a former assistant principal and two former principals, former and current Marist officials and clergy, and one of the clergy at the centre of the allegations gave evidence or made statements before the Royal Commission that the alleged cases of abuse happened during the 1970s and 1980s at Daramalan College, Canberra, at Lismore, Campbelltown and in Far North Queensland.

    In March 2015 a former Marist brother was arrested over a number of sex offences allegedly committed at St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill and St Gregory's College in Campbelltown in the 1980s. In September 2016, during a Royal Commission hearing, the head of the Marist Brothers in Australia, Brother Peter Carroll, formally apologised to the family of Andrew Nash, whose suicide in 1974 at the age of 13 almost certainly resulted from sexual abuse by three of the order's predatory brothers – Dominic, Patrick and Romuald – and acknowledged that they had many more victims than the dozens who had come forward so far.


    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)
  • Scotland

    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

    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

    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:

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

    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:

  • Province of Southern Africa (Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe)
  • Province of East Central Africa (Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania)
  • District of West Africa (Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia)
  • Province of Madagascar
  • Province of Nigeria
  • Marist saints and martyrs

    Many Marist Brothers have also been martyred for teaching and reaching out to the poor and uneducated in places where they are not welcome. 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

  • 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 Stephen Smyth, General Secretary (2007-2014) of Action of Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS)
  • References

    Marist Brothers Wikipedia