A Marist Education
Bringing the charism of St Marcellin Champagnat to the service of today’s Catholic schools
Marist Spirituality in Today's Schools
The charism of St Marcellin Champagnat is a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, for the mission of the Church. In the almost two centuries since St Marcellin began Marist education, many people have been attracted to his Marist way of receiving and promoting the gospel of Jesus. A spiritual family has grown up, a movement of people, and a distinctive educational style.
Today this spirituality, which is at the heart of Marist schools and other educational ministries, is being embraced by both Brothers and Lay Marists, women and men, young and old. They follow generations of educators who have been inspired by the Marist way and made it their own, not least in Australia where there are over fifty school communities that shape their identity and mission in the Marist way. These schools, in their efforts to incarnate the Christian faith in the Australian culture, have become known for their academic, cultural and sporting achievements, for their closeness to the communities they serve, and most especially, for the strong spirit which exists within them.
The Marist school has the gospel of Jesus Christ at its heart. Marist educators seek to live out their response to the gospel with the same faith, hope and love that Mary did. Like Mary, they seek to bring Christ-life to birth, in ordinary ways and even in the most unlikely of people and places. Their Marian approach is to nurture, to teach, to gather, to reconcile, and to stand with young people so as to give each and all of them reason and means to believe, to hope and to love. Like Mary at Pentecost, they locate themselves with what Marists call “l’église naissante”: the church as it comes to birth.
Marcellin wanted teachers in Marist schools to experience the same faithful and compelling love of God that he knew deep in his own heart, and to look to share this love with young people, especially those most in need of it. Their mission and their schools define themselves from this hope. They strive to mould their school communities as families, where people relate to each other as members of a loving family would intuitively do. They offer a spirituality that is simple and accessible, grounded practical love and transparent relationships. From this basis, they offer an education that is both integrated and rigorous, aimed at growing men and women who will be compassionate and critical, articulate and aware, faith-filled and hopeful.
On entering a Marist school, a person should find a community that is alive with the gospel, a warm and hospitable place, a learning community with purpose and breadth of vision where there is a special care for those most in need.
- Being present and a good example are the two pillars of St Marcellin's approach to education.
- Pedagogy of presence: immersion in the lives of young people, looking for opportunities and ways to be physically present to them.
- Educating through close and life-giving relationships.
- Teachers affecting students by who they are.
- Going into their world, their space.
- A central gospel value and distinguishing Marist Characteristic.
- Marcellin insisted on a prevailing simplicity that would ensure transparency, integrity and easiness of relationships, method and style.
- Lack of pretence or affectation.
- Authenticity and ease of relationship.
- Love of children: "To educate children first you must love them, and love them equally" is known as St Marcellin's Golden Rule.
- Family-style relationships
- Dealing with students as if they were your own children.
- Warm, down-to-earth relationships among all members of the school family.
- Sense of belonging, a place for everyone.
A Love of Our Work
- An enthusiasm for the work of the school.
- Generosity of heart, and doing good quietly.
- Mastery of the craft of teaching.
- Zealous search for effective methods and openness to innovation.
- High expectations of student achievement.
- Honouring of all work in the school and those who undertake it.
- In The Way of Mary
- Mary is the perfect model of the Marist educator.
- Openness to the action and will of God - like Mary of the Annunciation
- Going out, as a bearer of Good News - like Mary of the Visitation
- Bringing God-life to birth - like Mary of Bethlehem
- Introducing Jesus to people - like Mary of Cana
- Sitting with the suffering face of Jesus in love and faithfulness - like Mary of Calvary
- Forming community and sowing hope - like Mary of Pentecost
Origins of Marist Education
The tradition of Catholic education that is known as Marist was begun by a French priest, St Marcellin Champagnat, in 1817. Today, Marist schools, colleges, universities and youth projects are found in over eighty countries around the world, leading hundreds of thousands of young people to be what St Marcellin believed each of them could be - good Christians and good citizens.
Dismayed by the ignorance he found among the rural children of southern France and spurred on by a strong faith, Father Champagnat initially established a network of village schools. From the beginning, the school reflected many of the qualities of St Marcellin himself: they were places where hard work and excellent achievement were valued, places where the individual was genuinely loved and prized, warm places where a strong family spirit was evident, places characterised by simplicity and calm determination. A special concern was afforded those students who found school most difficult. Above all, the schools were places that had the Gospel at their heart, encouraging students to respond to it with the same faith and generosity that Mary did.
Mission of Today’s Marist Schools
The mission of Marist schools is to lead young people to know and love Jesus, in the way of Mary, in the belief that they all can become good Christians and good citizens.
Inspired by St Marcellin Champagnat, Marist educators, before all else, love their students. Their approach is marked by simplicity, family spirit, love of their work and presence in the midst of those whom they are called to serve.
To the extent that their resources, facilities and programs allow, Marist schools are open to all families which may be attracted to their distinctive way of drawing faith, culture and life into harmony through Christian education.