The original idea of the Marist project was never to see the light of day. The plan of a vast congregation of priests, brothers, sisters and lay people, all working under one leader or Superior General, was too complicated for the authorities in Rome to grasp, and too full of potential difficulties. It was something hither to unheard of, and neither the Canon Law of the day nor the Church’s theology had any way of seeing clearly how and where this idea fitted in to the life of the Church.
Fr Colin Marist Founder
Nevertheless, the idea of the Marist project as a tree of several branches was never completely abandoned by the founders of the project. From the beginning and until it was definitively quashed, the idea had always been favoured by the early Marists.
When Jean-Claude Colin made his first trip to Rome in 1833, his purpose was to present the idea to the authorities to see their reaction. He was left in no doubt about their thinking. The plan was judged as “gigantesque, monstrous” and “could not be approved under any aspect.”
Marcellin Champagnat died in 1840, and was replaced as Superior of the Brothers by Brother Francois. The union of Brothers and Fathers was not intended to be broken by this fact, however, and when Colin made his second visit to Rome in 1842, he invited Br. Francois and Jeanne-Marie Chavoin to present their views on the continuing union.
The Brothers sent a petition pleading for continued union. The petition recalled that the Brothers and Fathers had begun together, and asked that they should continue to grow alongside each other. Champagnat had always lived in the hope that the enterprise would retain the union of all the branches.
The same feeling was expressed by Jeanne-Marie Chavoin regarding the Sisters.
However, Colin’s visit to Rome in 1842 convinced him that the project of a congregation of several branches would never be approved. He began to see that a separation of branches was inevitable.
The term “Marist Family” is used to describe the groups that have sprung from a common foundation.
The religious congregations are the Marist Sisters (SM), the Marist Missionary Sisters (SMSM), the Marist Brothers (FMS), and the Marist Fathers and Brothers (SM).
The Marist Laity are an equal and integral group within the Marist Family who all share a common spirituality and draw inspiration from Mary’s way of being in the early Church.
Marist Family Spirituality
The original idea of the Marist project was a vast congregation of priests, brothers, sisters and lay people, all working under one leader or Superior General. The plan was too complicated for the authorities in Rome to grasp, and too full of potential difficulties.
Nevertheless, the idea of the Marist project as a tree of many branches was never completely abandoned by the founders of the project. From the beginning and until it was definitively quashed, the idea had always been favoured by the early Marists.
In 2006, the Marist General Councils have launch a new Marist Spirituality website. This resource site offers all Marists the opportunity to share their different perspectives on Marist spirituality and will provide a variety of articles in different genres which reflect how Marists engage with life.