Catholics are called to follow the example of Jesus the Teacher. St Bede’s aims to provide an education which has, as its foundation Jesus the teacher and Gospel values. Marist Spirituality adds to this Special Character. Like a good herb, spice or flavouring it adds taste and a distinctive style. We call this spirituality or approach – the Marist Charism.
Fr Jean Claude Colin began of the Society of Mary in France. His philosophy of education still influences the approach at St Bede’s. A Marist school should be a place where Christian values are promoted, good citizenship is encouraged, a good education is provided, students are treated as individuals, cared for and respected and the rules are reasonable. In a Marist school discipline is effective but not unpredictable or harsh, teachers are approachable, and piety is not imposed on the students.
“To bring up a man – what a sublime work this is. These are God’s children who are confided to us. It is towards God that we must direct their hearts by a constant application on our part to provide them with sound rules to guide them, and with good example which they may follow.” Fr Colin on Education
The Beginnings of The Society Of Mary
The Society of Mary began in 1816 when twelve seminarians, aged between 20 and 34, climbed the steep steps to the top of the Fourvière hill in Lyon, France, and dedicated themselves to Mary. They promised to begin a new religious order in the Church; a group called “Marists” whose work in the Church would resemble that of the Jesuits, but whose approach or style would be unlike anything that existed in the Church at that time.
The Society of Mary was approved by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836 and takes as its central spirit that its members seek to be like Mary in all things. This desire to model themselves on the Mother of Christ is reflected in the attitude of the Marists towards the people they work with and for.
Bearing the name of Mary is only a small part of being Marist. As a member of the Society of Mary, Marists are to think, judge and act as Mary would. Marists endeavour to make Mary present in the world today by imitating her attitude of service and humility, and are called to live as Mary lived her Christian life. It’s a spirituality which accepts the ordinary realities of any life but quietly seeks to place God at the centre of it. There is no special Marist devotional practice to Mary: rather it is the person of Mary and ‘working like her’ that is important.
The way Mary lived her life and went about her work inspires Marists to do the same. At the heart of Mary’s work is an openness to everyone: it excludes no one and is designed to enable men and women to grow and develop according to their truest call. Human beings can be weak, we sometimes slip up. The work of Mary is in evidence when mercy and compassion are present and the doorway to Jesus Christ is open without an entrance fee or strict requirements for belonging.