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. Marcelin 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. 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.
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.
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.
Requirements to join
- Be a Catholic, baptised, confirmed and an unmarried male
- Enjoy good reputation and moral standing among fellow Christians
- Posses a Malawi School Certificate of Education or its equivalent with grades as required by Marist Brothers
- N.B.: Students in Universities, Technical Colleges and other institutions of higher learning can apply to become Marist Brothers.
You can show your interest to join the Congregation of Marist Brothers through your small Christian Community, your parish priest or visit places where Marist Brothers are found for further details.