Feast of St. Marcellin Champagnat

June 6, 2017



Today marks the feast day of St. Marcellin Champagnat, founder of the Marist Brothers. The Brothers' values of excellence in education, sense of community, and commitment to service continue to inform the mission of Marist College, so I'd like to take this opportunity to share his story.

St. Marcellin Champagnat was born in 1789 in the hamlet of LaRosey, France. He was ordained a priest in 1816 and shortly thereafter established the Marist Brothers. Champagnat envisioned an entirely new approach to education, telling his early followers that "to teach children, you must love them first and love them all equally." Since then, this maxim has been the cornerstone of a Marist education. Champagnat set out to bring education to poor children in the region, and the first Marist school was established in LaValla in 1818. Encouraged by its success, others were founded throughout France. In time, Brothers were sent into the most remote villages to teach children, and often adults, the basics of their religion and the skills of reading and writing.

By 1840, there were 278 Marist Brothers working in 48 institutions across France. Today, there are more than 3,500 Brothers working alongside approximately 40,000 lay colleagues in 79 countries throughout the world. Champagnat was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1999; interestingly enough, the Marist College choir sang at the ceremony. Today, the College is independent and overseen by a predominantly lay board of Trustees, but we have a warm relationship with Marist universities across the globe. Indeed, last summer, we played host to their biennial conference and are proud to be associated with them.
The College's approach to education remains guided by the values of the Marist Brothers, which are timeless and which continue to serve our students well. The feast day of St. Marcellin Champagnat is an appropriate time to reflect on our proud heritage and recommit ourselves to promoting his ideals. Best wishes to all for an enjoyable summer.