Brothers and priests of the Society of Mary, the Marianists, along with students, staff, and families of Chaminade High School, celebrate the 200th anniversary of the religious order on Monday, Oct. 2. On this day in 1817, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade founded the Society of Mary in France – his method to rebuilding the church after the French Revolution.
To mark the occasion, all of Chaminade's 1,700 students promised a simple gift to the brothers – prayer. The resulting Spiritual Gifts Program offers prayers to the brothers, for vocations, and for students past, present, and future. Each student listed his petitions on a prayer card. They included:
Pray with a Marianist brother or priest,
Pray a decade of the rosary,
Attend Eucharistic Adoration before lunch or after school, and
Pray for vocations to the Society of Mary.
Andre Daniel '18 chose to pray for vocations, because, "I hope the brothers continue to make a lasting impression on students like me. I pray that the Marianist tradition continues to grow stronger, led by the new brothers of the future."
Every card will be presented during the offertory at the next school-wide Mass on Thursday, Oct. 12.
Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M., director of vocations and of the Marianist Community at Chaminade, said, "In preparation for this bicentennial year, the members of our congregation have spoken extensively about roots and branches. This bicentennial provides a joyous occasion for us to remember our roots and to be grateful for all the Marianists who went before us. It also impels us forward into the future. We know that our roots are deep. We want to make sure our branches are strong, so that we can reach more and more people, inspiring in them a devotion to Christ and his Blessed Mother."
The Society of Mary began with five men who offered themselves to Father Chaminade. They chose education as their apostolate and the Blessed Mother as their guide. Her words at the Wedding Feast at Cana epitomized their message: "Do whatever He tells you."
Senior Colin Capece said the Marianists have given him an education that goes beyond the classroom. "Coming to Chaminade from public school, I didn't have any faith-based education besides catechism in my parish," he said. "My spirituality has grown tremendously after seeing how the brothers teach and live their lives as an example to Christ."
Capece went on to say, "They teach us how to be good Christians, how to brace for 'the real world' after high school, how to stand up for your faith and stay rooted in tradition."
Five Marianists established Chaminade High School in 1930, welcoming 145 students its first year. Today, the school is staffed with 20 Marianists and nearly 100 lay teachers who strive to make the Mary "known, loved, and served" in all places. Along with Kellenberg Memorial High School and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School in Uniondale, the three schools are owned and operated by the Marianist Province of Meribah.