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MARISTS have been making a difference in Australia since they arrived in 1872. They came as part of an international religious institute founded by Saint Marcellin Champagnat - a man with vision who possessed a heart that knew no bounds.

Marists have taken the lead in many endeavours - from education (in its many forms) - to missionary activity in a number of overseas countries; from working with youth and young adults to working with adolescents and families at risk through welfare services and juvenile justice.

Marists can also be found in every walk of life today. These Marists are linked by a common belief - they can be present to all people through the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The call to be Marist is still strong today.

The Charism of St Marcellin Champagnat

The charism that came into our world through Marcellin was a gift to the Church, and not solely to the Marist community. Pope Paul VI reminded us time and again that a charism is nothing more and nothing less than the fruit of the Holy Spirit. In any institution that bears the name Marist today, therefore, we must ask ourselves this question: do you and I really believe that the Spirit of God who was so alive and active in Marcellin Champagnat longs to live and breathe in you and me today.

The beginnings of his project were rather modest, but then they often are whenever any of us have an idea that stands outside the mainstream. He started with an old house, and two rather uneducated young men who had but some understanding of what he had in mind. But Marcellin Champagnat also had a dream, the dream of telling poor children and young people just how much God loved each of them. And today this dream has grown to encompass 79 countries throughout the world and to involve tens of thousands of brothers and laymen and women in the lives of approximately 500,000 young people each year.

Marcellin thought the best way of realizing this dream was to be in the midst of the young, as their older brother and sister. Love was at the heart of his method of education and he believed firmly that children learned best if they were cared for first. His was a style of educating that was foreign to the customs of the day, but one that understood something about the future. For Marcellin Champagnat always considered the future when seeking solutions and not solely the past.

Br. Seán Sammon

Curitiba, March 13th, 2009

For more information on the Brothers’ life of spirituality, community and ministry contact:

Br Tony Leon (Sydney) - E: tony.leon@marists.org.au 

Br Rod Thomson (Melbourne) - E: rod.thomson@marists.org.au   M: 0428 627 478