The Marist Brothers, a Catholic religious order, established Marist College in 1905 as a private liberal arts institution to train young men for future careers as teachers and other public service positions. When it comes to Marist, its Catholic roots are unmistakable. An international community of Catholic priests called the Marist Brothers founded the institution in 1929 and it remained such until 1969, when it was sold to a board of trustees that had no ties to the church. The Marist High school was also founded by the Marist Fathers and Brothers in 1890 as an independent, Catholic, private, non-profit, college preparatory coeducational day school. Marist School serves students in grades seven through twelve. The Society of Mary, also known as the Marists, is a religious community of priests and brothers that was founded in France in 1836 and is the owner and operator of the school. Even though Marist College was founded by the Marist Brothers, its Catholic roots can still be seen across campus, with a chapel in the middle of the property and grottoes honouring St. Marcellin Champagnat who founded the Marist Brothers.
Brief History of the Marist School
Saint Marcellin Champagnat was a Catholic priest who, on January 2, 1817, in the little village of La Valla, France, established the Marist Brothers of the Schools, which are still in existence today. It was his vision that the Brothers would be a community of men devoted to Mary, the Mother of God – hence the term “Marist” – whose principal mission would be to teach children in the rural towns and villages of nineteenth-century France. By June 6, 1840, when he died, there were 278 Marist Brothers and 48 Marist schools in France and the South Pacific, according to the last available data. Currently, there are slightly more than 3400 Marist Brothers spread across 78 countries.
Is there Catholic Presence in Marist School?
It has been confirmed by Dr. Sally Dwyer-McNulty, an associate professor of history at Marist, that there is a Catholic presence on Marist campuses. “For those that pay attention to it, it is stronger, but for others, it may not be as noticeable.” So many people are impressed by the Marist brothers and love their approach to religion, people, and diplomacy. “There are many individuals who are impressed by the Marist brothers and appreciate their approach to religion. LaMorte, a priest at Marist, also remarked that Catholicism does not currently play a dominating role in the school’s culture and tradition. His belief was that “the College makes every effort to accommodate the needs of both Catholic and non-Catholic students.” As a result of the large number of Catholics who attend Marist, a Catholic liturgy has been held on campus on a regular basis and other than the presence of some Marist brothers who live on the Marist campus, there is nothing particularly Catholic about the school.”
In addition, there are bi-monthly meetings with a group of students known as Catholic Connections, a campus organization that meets to discuss current events and topics pertaining to college students and the Catholic religion. In terms of membership, the Campus Club is the largest club on campus, with over 1,200 members who are largely Catholic, though they are non-denominational in character. A further point to mention is that around 70% of the Marist student body self-identifies as Catholic, with the remaining 30% identifying as non-Catholic. This information is gathered by Marist through the administration of surveys regarding the religious preferences of incoming students each academic year.
Does one have to be a catholic to go to Marist School?
Despite the fact that the vast majority of Marist students come from Catholic homes, the college has maintained a consistent attitude of independence from the Roman Catholic Church. The fact that Marist requested then-New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to speak at the school’s graduating ceremony in 2003 exemplified independence to the fullest extent. Spitzer’s invitation was rejected by the Cardinal Newman Society, a pro-choice organization based in Virginia that aims to promote Catholic education around the country. Spitzer’s offer was rejected because of his pro-choice activism. As a result of the protest, the Archdiocese of New York legally proclaimed that Marist “is no longer a Catholic institution,” allowing Marist to deviate from the principles of the Roman Catholic Church without repercussion. Aside from that, the ruling resulted in Marist losing its ability to represent itself as a Catholic college in a variety of Church-related publications, including the Official Catholic Directory.
Since the Spitzer crisis erupted, it has become evident that Marist has no intention of passing itself off as a Catholic organization. Even students and parents have come to see Marist as a secular institution rather than a Catholic institution. “For some people, the fact that they went to Catholic school or that they follow Catholicism provides comfort, and they are drawn to [Marists’] Catholic heritage,” Marist, on the other hand, is not considered by the majority of parents who are looking for a Catholic college. Since a few years, Marist schools have been engaged in interfaith projects that seek to support and identify religious beliefs and practices other than those of the Catholic faith. However, despite the fact that Marist proclaims itself to be autonomous, the college management has attempted to maintain a strong connection to its Catholic roots. As a result, in response to the question of whether or not one must be a Catholic to attend Marist School, the answer is a resounding No, as the school is now independent of the Catholic faith, and students of any religion or belief can attend the school without being forced to convert to the Catholic faith.
Despite the fact that Marist is an independent institution, the values of the Marist Brothers can still be seen in the work that the Marist Brothers do on a daily basis at the college, such as a commitment to academic excellence, a sense of belonging, and service to those less fortunate than themselves. These ideals are alive and well at Marist College.