The Marists began in France in 1816, just following the French Revolution, when 12 newly ordained young men pledged their lives to the service of others in the spirit of Mary. In 1863, during the Civil War, the Marists came to the U.S. to serve the needs of French-speaking people in Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota and California.
Marists reach out to all people, placing a special emphasis on those who feel alienated. Today they encourage the Church to unify in its diversity and to be transformed by the spirit of Mary from coast to coast – in 79 countries. Marists work in parishes, schools, prisons, hospitals, colleges and missions.
St. Peter Chanel
St. Peter Chanel, S.M. joined the Society of Mary (Marists) in 1831 as it was beginning in France. He went to Rome in 1833 with the Society Founder, Fr. Jean Claude Colin seeking approval from Pope Gregory XVI for the Society to be recognized. The Society was recognized by Pope Gregory XVI when the Marists were asked to send missionaries to the southwest Pacific. Peter Chanel was one of the first to travel there where he served from 1837 until his death in 1841. He was murdered by associates of the King of the Futuna who feared that conversion to Christianity by his subjects would undermine his power. After Peter Chanel’s death, the islands of Wallis and Futuna where he had been working became 100% Catholic.
For more information about the Marists, we recommend the following websites: