Marist Brothers Novitiate Carries On a Historic Tradition and Links Marist College to Its Past
February 20, 2018 - In 1905, the Marist Brothers arrived in Poughkeepsie, New York and purchased the McPherson estate, which now forms part of the campus of Marist College. The Brothers quickly transformed the house on the property into a formation center to prepare young men interested in becoming Marist Brothers. Until 1970, generations of young brothers passed through Marist as they completed their undergraduate education and went on to lives of service.
This storied history came full circle this past August when the Brothers once again established a house of formation on the Marist campus. Located in Kirk House (between the Hancock Center and Foy Townhouses), the Marist Brothers Novitiate will play an important role in preparing young men for the life of a Marist Brother in the 21st century.
Currently, the community at Kirk is made up of five brothers, including Brother Luis Ramos, a 25-year-old Iona College graduate who began his formation as a Marist Brother in 2016. Other community members include Brother Sean Sammon, Scholar-in- Residence and a member of Marist’s Board of Trustees, who serves as Novice Director; Brother Kenneth Hogan, a religious studies instructor; Brother Steve Milan, a youth ministry instructor; and Brother Michael Flanigan, who is teaching Luis French as well as serving as a Campus Minister at the College and who, along with Brother Frank Kelly, lives in the Champagnat dormitory.
During their two-year post-college novitiate program, young men with an interest in becoming Marist Brothers study the history, spirituality, and mission of the congregation. In addition, they receive a broad education in theology, youth ministry, and language studies, particularly French and Spanish. Their formation program also includes valuable hands-on experience working with young people in the local community. For his part, Brother Luis is helping to co-lead a men’s group as part of the College’s Campus Ministry program, as well as being involved in volunteer work with Catholic Charities in Dutchess County. He had this to say about his brief time at Marist: “So many people here at the College have been welcoming, especially as I had questions or needed help. They’ve certainly made me feel at home and part of the campus community.”
“The Brothers asked to locate their novitiate at Marist for several reasons,” according to Brother Sean. “First of all, we wanted to have this stage of our formation program on campus as a sign of the Marist Brothers’ ongoing support of the mission of the College. We also realized that the educational community here has a number of resources that complement our novitiate program. Finally, we hoped that having a community of Marist Brothers on campus would help young people and others get a firsthand look at our way of life.”
Founded in 1817 by Saint Marcellin Champagnat, today there are approximately 3,500 Marist Brothers working in 79 countries around the world alongside 40,000 lay colleagues; each year, they serve more than 700,000 young people in Marist ministries. Marist College, which has been an independent institution for decades, is nonetheless still guided by the values handed down by its Marist Brother founders: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service. The College maintains close ties with the Brothers and belongs to an international network of Marist colleges and universities. In 2016, the College was pleased to host the biennial conference of this network, welcoming to campus representatives from Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.
Located on the banks of the historic Hudson River and at its Florence, Italy branch campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts. Its mission is to “help students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.” Marist is consistently recognized for excellence by The Princeton Review (Colleges That Create Futures and The Best 381 Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (9th Best Regional University/North), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Best College Values”), and others. Though now independent, Marist remains committed to the ideals handed down from its founders, the Marist Brothers: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service. Marist educates approximately 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and 1,400 adult and graduate students in 47 undergraduate majors and 14 graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees. www.marist.edu