Society of Mary

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Logo of the Marianists United States Province

Society of Mary, SM, is a Roman Catholic religious order of brothers and priests called the Marianists or Marist Fathers. The community was founded by William Joseph Chaminade, a priest who survived the persecutions of Catholics during the French Revolution.

The Marianists look to Mary as a model for faith and spirituality, and they feel that the best ways to live a spiritual life are through work in the trades, missionary work, and, most importantly, through education.

In the Marianist Province of the United States, the Society runs three higher learning institutions, about 17 high schools, 6 elementary/middle schools, and 12 parishes. In each of these institutions, the Characteristics of Marianist Education guide the curriculum. These five characteristics are:

  • To educate for formation in faith
  • To provide an integral, quality education
  • To educate in family spirit
  • To educate for service, justice, and peace
  • To educate for adaptation and change.

Men who pursue a vocation with the Society of Mary follow an intense formation process forcing them to examine themselves and their spirituality. The first step to becoming a Marianist is to be a Contact. Contacts learn about the order and themselves through retreats and through the guidance of a Marianist who they contact regularly. The next step is the Aspirancy - a 10-month live-in with an actual Marianist community. Aspirants work in a ministry to further their understanding of Marianist spirituality and their own faith. At the end of this period, one enters the Novitiate, which is a 20-month period divided over 2 years. During that time, the novice learns about the order, and spends time deeply considering his call to the order.

At the end of the Novitiate, Temporary Vows are professed. These vows must be renewed every year for at least 3 years. At the end of that time, the brother can decide to enter into Perpetual Profession, in which the brother professes the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. In addition, some brothers study to become priests at the International Marianist Seminary in Rome, Italy.

The Marianists can be found all over the world, and in the United States, they are concentrated in St. Louis, Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; and San Antonio, Texas. The largest educational institute operated by the Marianists is the University of Dayton. Actor and activist Martin Sheen has credited his dedication to public causes to his Marianist education at that university.

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