On what ministries are the Marianists worldwide focusing?
We asked that question of Father Manuel Cortés, S.M., superior general of the Society of Mary. His answer:
In all countries where we are present, Marianists focus on our ministries of education, understood as the formation of the whole person, according to the perfect human model, Jesus. Since the days of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, we have considered this the service the Lord asked of us: to form human persons in the way that Mary formed Jesus as a human being. We call ourselves “Marianists” because we are called to continue the educational mission of Mary in our Church and in our world. Inspired and accompanied by Mary, our vocation is to form others to become brothers and sisters of Jesus, as well as brothers and sisters of each other.
As Marianists, we are open to any type of ministry that may serve to form persons. In addition to our educational institutions, we are committed to other ministries that exercise an important educational influence — such as parishes; programs promoting social justice; adult formation; faith communities; and attending to those excluded from educational systems owing to social, economic or other circumstances.
Chaminade, deeply touched by an era of great change, that of the French Revolution, understood people’s need to be educated, to receive the formation needed to avoid being swallowed up by the turmoil of great cultural change. We are living through a similar period, a time of perhaps even more profound change. Pope Benedict XVI characterized it as an “educational emergency,” and Pope
Francis has not ceased calling for the dedication of all possible resources to address this clear need in the area of education. In light of this, Marianists cannot but feel spurred on in our mission. We hope that the Lord will give us vocations to be able to continue to develop in this area.
The educational emergency of our age appears most acutely in the poorest societies and among those marginalized in the richer societies. The “good life” of those who live in opulence increasingly leaves behind victims condemned to poverty and hunger. We Christians cannot remain indifferent to the cry of the poor, as Pope Francis has repeated so often. Since the 1950s, the Marianists have responded to this call by founding communities and works in poor countries and marginalized areas. We are present in 33 countries. In 18 of these, we have been present only since the last half of the 20th century, with the great majority of these having a high level of poverty.
Our Marianist focus, therefore, remains faithful to our founder’s vision but also very much in conformity with the needs of today’s world. Our ministry remains deeply rooted in Marianist tradition and spirituality and very much alive in active mission.