The Marianist Family

All About the Marianists


May the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

The Society of Mary (Marianists), founded in France in 1817 by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, is an international religious order of priests and brothers. More than 600 serve in the Province of the United States which includes India, Eastern Africa, and Mexico. In the U.S., the Marianists sponsor three universities, 18 high schools, 10 parishes, and five retreat centers. the Marianists have had a presence in the United States since 1849.


There are three branches of the Marianist Family tree:

  • Lay Marianists – Women and men committed to the Marianist charism.
  • The Society of Mary – Vowed religious brothers and priests known as Marianists.
  • The Daughters of Mary Immaculate – Also known as the Marianist sisters.

The Marianist Family is a worldwide community of men and women dedicated to the Marianist charism. We embrace Mary’s words at the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you”.


The Marianist Family was born in the violence of the French Revolution, s three dedicated colleagues sought to renew the Church in their country.  William Joseph Chaminade, a priest, worked with Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon and Marie-Therese Charlotte de Lamourous to found small faith communities known as sodalities. They believed lay communities, modeled on the discipleship of the Blessed Mother, would bring their country back to Christ.

The lay Marian Sodality movement grew and spread, and some members wished to make a more complete commitment to the Church. In response, Chaminade and Adele founded the Daughters of Mary Immaculate – the Marianist sisters – in 1816. The Society of Mary – Marianist brothers and priests – was established in 1817.


A charism is the set of distinct characteristics – given by the Holy Spirit – that animate a religious community. The Marianist charism revolves around these qualities:

  • Faith – the focus of our lives and ministry.
  • Community – where we find strength and how we minister.
  • Mary – dedication to her and her ongoing mission of bringing Christ to the world.
  • Education – our means of spreading the Gospel.
  • Social Justice – how we pursue transformation of the world.
  • Service – especially to the poor and youth.


Marianists believe that people learn, work and serve most effectively in community. We believe community is the best context for faith to develop and flourish.

Vowed Marianists live, pray, and care for each other in communities. Lay Marianists are typically aligned with formal or informal communities.  Some Lay Marianist communities exist almost entirely online!


Priests and brothers in the Society of Mary share equal status. This philosophy extends to other branches of the Marianist Family as well, with lay people and Marianist sisters serving alongside brothers and priests in a spirit of collaboration. Together, we value and employ the gifts each person brings to ministry and community.


Marianists believe that faith is communicated in how we work and live, not just in what we do in a working life. While most vowed Marianists – sisters, priests, and brothers – work at secondary schools and universities, others serve at parishes or retreat centers. Still others serve in spiritual formation roles, in social services and as artists.

In many walks of daily life, religious and Lay Marianists draw on the strength of their community to serve as living witnesses of the Gospel


In Mary, Blessed Chaminade saw the model of Christian discipleship, simplicity and hospitality. He believed an “alliance with Mary” would renew and transform the Church.

“Mary’s fidelity to the grace of her conception makes her the most perfect model, after Jesus Christ, of our fidelity to grace,” Chaminade wrote.

With the Blessed Mother as our model, Marianists strive to be nurturing, accepting, joyful, forgiving, and firm in faith.

***The text on this page was taken from The Marianists brochure***


Fr. Chaminade

The Society of Mary was formed in the wake of Francea��s bloody revolution (1789 a�� 1799). It was created to reawaken the Christian faith in a land where the Catholic Church had been battered and destabilized.

In the early years of the revolution, William Joseph Chaminade, a diocesan priest, continued a clandestine ministry in Bordeaux. In 1797, Chaminade was driven into exile in Saragossa, Spain. There he prayed daily at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, continuing a devotion to the Blessed Mother that was formed in the earliest days of his childhood.

During this time in exile, Chaminade conceived of a plan that would shape the rest of his life.

Upon his return to France in 1800, Chaminade began forming small faith communities called sodalities. Chaminade believed the Blessed Mother was the model of discipleship, and so, in keeping with his plan, he placed these faith communities under Marya��s patronage. Marie ThA�rA?se Charlotte de Lamourous, who had served the underground Church during the revolution, was a close collaborator of Fr. Chaminade. In partnership with him, she helped form and guide the womena��s sections of the sodalities.

By 1809, there were nearly 1,000 members in these sodalities, which were the earliest Marianist Lay Communities.

Through friends, Chaminade came into contact with a young woman named AdA?le de Batz de TrenquellA�on. Like Chaminade, AdA?le was committed to the a�?mission of Mary.a�? In 1816, with support from Chaminade, AdA?le founded the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, known now as the Marianist Sisters.

Just a year later, a group of male sodalists came to Chaminade with the goal of forming a religious institute under his direction. On October 2, 1817, these faithful men formed the Society of Mary. Like the Marianist Sisters, this congregation was pledged to carrying out Marya��s apostolic mission in the world. They committed themselves to forming others in faith, primarily through education.

In the ensuing decades, the Marianists spread across Europe, and across oceans. The Society of Mary now ministers in more than 30 countries across the globe.

Fr. Chaminade died in 1850; he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2000

In the United States

The Marianists first came to the United States in 1849, landing in Cincinnati, Ohio. They moved north to Dayton, where they established St. Marya��s School for Boys in 1850. St. Marya��s would become the University of Dayton.

The Society of Mary grew and spread, continuing its primary focus of bringing others to Christ through education.

It established or staffed secondary schools in numerous states, and founded St. Marya��s University in San Antonio, Texas, in 1852, and established Chaminade University in Honolulu, Hawaia��i, in 1955.

Marianist brothers in Ohio, 1910.

To administer the sprawling geography, there eventually were four U.S. Marianist provinces: Cincinnati (from the initial mission post), St. Louis (established 1908), Pacific (established 1948) and New York (established 1961).

The number of Marianists has decreased in recent decades, and the four U.S. provinces were consolidated in 2002 to create the Marianist Province of the United States.

There are approximately 300 Marianist brothers and priests in the Province of the United States today. The Province sponsors or co-sponsors a variety of ministries, including 18 secondary schools, three universities, four retreat centers and six parishes. The Province includes additional professed Marianists in India and Mexico.