Marist Tradition

Origins of Marist Education

The tradition of Catholic education that is known as Marist was begun by the  French priest, St Marcellin Champagnat, in 1817. Today, Marist schools, colleges, universities and youth projects are found in many countries around the world, leading hundreds of thousands of young people to be what St Marcellin believed each of them could be - good Christians and good citizens.

Dismayed by the ignorance he found among the rural children of southern France and spurred on by a strong faith, Father Champagnat initially established a network of village schools. From the beginning, the schools reflected many of the qualities of St Marcellin himself: they were places where hard work and excellent achievement were valued; places where the individual was genuinely loved and prized; warm places where a strong family spirit was evident; places characterised by simplicity and calm determination. A special concern was afforded to those students who found school most difficult. Above all, the schools were places that had the Gospel at their heart, encouraging students to respond to it with the same faith and generosity that Mary did.


The Five Pillars of Marist Education


  • Immersion in the lives of young people, looking for opportunities and ways to be physically present to them.

  • Educating through close and life-giving relationships.

  • Teachers affecting students by who they are.

  • Going into their world, their space.



  • A central gospel value and distinguishing Marist Characteristic.

  • Marcellin insisted on a prevailing simplicity that would ensure transparency, integrity and easiness of relationships, method and style.

  • Lack of pretence or affectation.

  • Authenticity and ease of relationship.


Family Spirit

  • Love of children: "To educate children first you must love them, and love them equally" is known as St Marcellin's Golden Rule.

  • Family-style relationships.

  • Dealing with students as if they were your own children.

  • Warm, down-to-earth relationships among all members of the school family.

  • Sense of belonging; a place for everyone.

  • Hospitality.


A Love of Our Work

  • An enthusiasm for the work of the school.

  • Generosity of heart, and doing good quietly.

  • Mastery of the craft of teaching.

  • Zealous search for effective methods and openness to innovation.

  • High expectations of student achievement.

  • Honouring all work in the school and those who undertake it.


In the Way of Mary

  • Mary is the perfect model of the Marist educator.

  • Openness to the action and will of God - like Mary of the Annunciation.

  • Going out, as a bearer of Good News - like Mary of the Visitation.

  • Introducing Jesus to people - like Mary of Cana.

  • Sitting with the suffering face of Jesus in love and faithfulness - like Mary of Calvary.

  • Forming community and sowing hope - like Mary of Pentecost.