(Vatican Radio) January 2nd marks the 200th anniversary of the founding of a religious institute known as the Marist Brothers of the Schools. The institute currently counts over three thousand brothers, working alongside lay associates in schools and other youth ministries in more than 80 countries around the world.
On January 2nd 1817, French priest Fr Marcellin Champagnat founded an institute called the ‘Little Brothers of Mary’, with the goal of educating and evangelizing young people, especially those most in need.
In a video message, marking the bicentenary, the current general superior, Brother Emili Turú speaks about the three attitudes of gratitude, forgiveness and commitment which characterize members of the institute today While giving thanks for the work of their founder and the dedication of past members, he says, it is also vital to ask forgiveness for the suffering caused by the abuse of children and the failure to protect those in their care. The video ends with a commitment to safeguarding young people, especially those living in poverty and particularly vulnerable situations.
Today there are some 72.000 lay men and women teaching alongside the brothers in Marist schools and institutions on all five continents.
They are celebrating this bicentenary in a special way in La Valla, France, where the institute was founded, but also in Nairobi, Kenya and in Lujan, Argentina. Brother Emili Turú is marking the anniversary in Bangladesh, where he’s helping to launch a school for the sons and daughters of tea plantation workers.
Later this year, on June 6th, the Marists will be marking the anniversary here in Rome, where the headquarters is located, with the presentation of a three volume History of the Institute and a photographic exhibition.
On September 8th, celebrations continue in Rionegro, Colombia, where the Marists open their General Chapter, bringing together brothers and other representatives from across the globe.
Throughout this bicentenary year, members of the institute are using the social media hashtag #MillionMarists to bring young people together and to share the vision of their founder, Saint Marcellin Champagnat.