History of the Marist Brothers in the United States

The brief study of the History of the Marist Brothers in the United States during the past seventy-five years is typical of the development of many religious teaching congregations in this country.

Though the initial program of the Marist Congre ation to develop a Canadian and American teaching apostolate from 1885 to 1910 met with serious difficulties, nevertheless the progress it achieved enabled the General Council of the Institute to create one autonomous province in each country in March 1911. The credit for the advancement made during this Pioneering Period is due to the dedicated missionaries from France and the numerous exiled French and Swiss Brothers who joined their ranks as well as the many local vocations who close to lead the Marist teaching life.

The following twenty year period was one of reorganization and consolidation. Four successive provincials administered the Province of they United States during this Reorganization Period to establish the foundations for the present houses of studies, to promote Marist interest in secondary education and to efficiently organize the personnel in promising schools.

Such hampering factors as: the shortage of brothers due to World War I; the return of many pioneering brothers to France; the dual program of expansion in Manitoba, Canada as well as in the United States; two teaching programs (including bilingual schools) and the economic effects of the Wall Street crash of 1929 limited the progress envisioned in 1911.

From 1931 to 1953 (Transition Period) the Marist teachers were transferred from grammar schools to high schools. The remunerative rewards from this move during the depression years and afterwards helped the four provincials to construct and to properly develop'adequate houses of studies for applicants to the Marist life. As the Province prospered, especially after World War II, it was extended to include a missionary territory in the Philippines.

It was a time when the dedication of brothers to manual work enabled the administrators to direct the construction of a number of major projects. The brothers' proficiency in carpentry, plumbing, masonry, painting, and electrical work made it economically possible to provide the needed facilities throughout the Province.

From 1953 to the present (Expansion Period) the continual increase of brothers has enabled the Province to expand into the dioceses of Brooklyn, New York: Newark, New Jersey; Corpus Christi, Texas; Rockville Center, New York; Miami, Florida and in the missionary territory of Japan. In 1959 the American Marists were divided into two provinces (Esopus and Poughkeepsie). One year later the Philippine missions had prospered sufficiently to be given autonomy as a District.

The training program of the brothers since the Transition Period provided the provinces with a great number of teachers who have completed graduate work and who continue in this program of professional depth. The inauguration of the Marist Educational Conferences, a product of this program, has been a continuous source of encouragement in this field.

Today the American Marists continue in the splendid tradition which made the provinces grow successfully. In this way the future needs of Catholic education will be met in part by the expanding work and dedication of the Marist Brothers of the Schools in the United States.

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last updated on June 9, 2004