200 years of history
Saddened by seeing kids deprived of education in France, after the revolution, a young French priest decided to take action. Saint Marcellin Champagnat dedicated his life to the cause, and at the age of 27, he founded an institution committed to educating children and adolescents. The idea of creating a Society, under the protection of Mary, intended to preach the word of God through education, came up during his training in a Seminar in Lyon.
Then, Jan 2nd, 1817 saw the oficial beginning of the Marist actions. Shortly before that, in Oct 1816, Champagnat’s primary motivation emerged as he paid a visit to the 16 year old Jean-Baptiste Montagne, on his deathbed. As he talked to the young man about God, he realized Jean-Baptiste was completely unaware of what he was talking about. Montagne’s lack of knowledge was a driving force for the priest to put his idea into practice.
Champagnat died in 1840. He had trained 280 brothers and founded 48 schools, providing assistance to as many as 7,000 students. So, the mission quickly spread around the world, from France to Europe, Africa and the Americas. Today, it is making its presence felt in 80 countries. The Brazilian gateway for the Marists was the state of Minas Gerais, as they arrived there in 1897. Three years later, they left France for Bom Princípio, in Rio Grande do Sul, at the request of German immigrants who wanted their kids to have a quality education. In 1903, another group of Brothers went to Belém, in the Amazon, as they disseminated the actions all over the North. Every Brazilian state has been marked by at least one Marist action – from schools and universities to social assistance units and missionary work –, which accounts for more than 40% of the network’s global actions.
For Br. Arlindo Corrent, advisor of the Office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance of PUCRS, the fidelity to Champagnat’s ideals is what keeps the Marist Institute still strong all over the world. “Its charisma, that is, the ideals, have always been at the core of the Institute’s mission. Although education is one of our missions, our main goal is to preach the Marist word and make Jesus known and loved.”
A new chapter
September 2017 market the official beginning of another General Chapter. “It’s the world’s largest Marist assembly. The path we’re going to take over the coming years were decided there”, explains Br. Arlindo. The assembly was also marked by the election of the new superior, Br. Ernesto Sánchez, and general boards, which will run the Marist in world over the next eight years . For the first time, the event took place outside of Rome – in the city of Medellín, Colombia. A representative of each province is invited to the assembly. Today, including the advisors, there are more than 100.
Despite being officially scheduled to begin in September, the meeting had been prepared for two years by brothers and lay preachers from all over the world. They contributed with ideas, suggestions and reflections that guided the discussions throughout the assembly’s 42 days. This Latin America assembly is the 22nd of all Chapters that are concluded every eight years.
Marists in Brazil
* INFORMATION AVAILABLE IN THE BRASIL MARISTA SOCIAL REPORT 2015, PUBLISHED IN OCT 2016