History of the Institute – FMS Studia 3

FMS Studia

Volume 1
From the village of Marlhes to expansion worldwide (1789-1907)
André Lanfrey, fms FMS
Translator: Br Anthony Hunt.

Tome 2
Marist mission  in a violent and secularised world (1907-1985)
André Lanfrey, fms FMS
Translator: Br Jeffrey Crowe

Tome 3
Dawn’s uncertain light (1985-2016)
Michael C. Green, fms


If we, Marist brothers, are collectively what we are today, it is largely due to those who have preceded us. Therefore, we will hardly under-stand ourselves without studying the path that has led us to the present moment, when we are about to celebrate the 200th anniversary of our foundation.

For over a century, and due to a number of reasons, the interest for our Institute’s history was apparently not among our priorities. However, there has been a significant effort over the last 50 or 60 years to study our tradition in a systematic and organized way. The numerous publications and the new appreciation of the Marist places in France are two facts that have generated a growing interest for our origins and for a scientific study of our Marist history.

The three volumes we are now publishing are somehow a humble tribute to all the brothers who – with great love and dedication at different points of our history – have helped us return to our sources in order to know and love them better.

The universal Church is celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life in 2015. As part of it, Pope Francis has invited us to look at the past with gratitude. In line with this invitation, how could we read these pages without gratitude in our hearts, not remembering the over 25 thousand brothers that preceded us in this Gospel journey since 1817? Many of these brothers’ names will never appear in history books. However, they are actually the central characters of our Marist story because they gave their life beyond measure at the service of our mission in a simple and discrete way, sometimes even heroically.

I invite the reader to approach these pages with gratitude. This will lead us to live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope, following the Pope’s invitation. In these early years of the 21st century, we want a new beginning for the Marist Institute, and we are collectively committed to this task. The testimony of those who have preceded us encourages us to live this historical moment with passion and hope.

For many years now, Brother André Lanfrey has studied our Marist history in a very professional way. With great patience, he has helped us understand better where we come from and, therefore, to love more deeply what we are. He now gives us the first two volumes of this History of the Marist Institute, which, as we can see, are written with great precision and depth. Thank you very much, Brother André, for this beautiful contribution to our spiritual her-itage.

Thanks also to Brother Michael Green, who has taken on the challenge of preparing the third volume about our recent history from 1985 to the present day. Brother Michael has listened to numerous protagonists of this historical

period for many hours. I am sure that the documentary and testimonial char-acter of this three-volume work will be a precious treasure for future generations.

It is easy to picture Father Champagnat and the first brothers sitting in the recently concluded Hermitage building. They would vividly remember the his-torical and anecdotal events that took place during the initial construction. What a great courage they needed to undertake that formidable task, which would have enormous consequences for the future!

Likewise, when Father Champagnat entrusted the task of collecting the early-days memories to Brother Jean-Baptiste Furet, he knew he was living and writing a story that should be handed down to posterity but, most of all, he was convinced that being part of and committing to it was worthwhile. There-fore, these volumes on the history of our Institute – first told by Furet’s book –can become a manual for living, which can help us discover what is still new in the old stories, “like a householder who brings out from his storeroom new things as well as old” (Mt 13:52). It is certainly a story we can tell today but, above all, a legacy we must receive and bestow on others.

Since the hard and happy beginnings, we have realized with gratitude that the maternal hand of Mary, who has done everything for us, has guided our history. We should thus never lose our confidence, for we are convinced that the future of our Institute will be a reflection of such a Good Mother’s face, and an expression of her faith journey in the footsteps of her Son.

Brother Emili Turú, Superior General