From a small village in France to the shores of Australia, the Marist community has a rich history of helping others.
Founded by Saint Marcellin Champagnat, the Marist community has been part of Australian society since 1896. Starting with a small school, the Marist Brothers were dedicated to providing care, accommodation and an education to all young people, regardless of their circumstances. Throughout the 20th century, they would encourage and empower individuals and families with the skills and knowledge to create a bright future. We continue their work today.
Marist Youth Care was renamed Marist180 to reflect its focus on a range of groups in society, from young people and families to asylum seekers and job seekers.
Marist Community Services became a legal entity, owned by Marist Brothers but with its own constitution and Board of Directors. In 2002, the name was changed to Marist Youth Care.
The first Marist Brothers youth refuge was opened to meet the needs of young people without a home in the Nepean area.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul withdrew from St Vincent’s Boys Home. The Marist Brothers began to extend its services to wider Western Sydney, reaching out without discrimination.
The Marist Brothers and the Society of St Vincent de Paul established St Vincent’s Boys Home at Westmead for boys without a home or family. The boys received an education and could learn a trade or work on a farm.
The son of French peasants, Saint Marcellin Champagnat did not have access to an education. But he worked hard to become a priest so he could inspire faith in others and provide them with the same kind of safe, loving home that he had. In 1817, he founded our Marist community and devoted his life to empowering children through education and faith. At the time of his death in 1840, the Marist community comprised 48 establishments in France and 278 Brothers and missionaries. Marcellin Champagnat was canonised a Saint by Pope John Paul II in 1999.
Arrival in Australia
In 1872, the Marist Brothers were invited by the Archbishop of Sydney to assist in developing schools for young Australian people. The Brothers’ early schools were established in the most underprivileged areas of Sydney, in keeping with Saint Marcellin Champagnat’s devotion to young people deprived of the opportunity to learn. Their first school was established in partnership with the Society of St Vincent de Paul in 1896. Boarding schools would soon be set up in country towns to ensure remote students would also have access to education.
Marist in the 20th and 21st centuries
By the 1940s, the Marist Brothers’ first school had become a large institution. However, in the 1970s, the Brothers began to focus more on facilitating foster care and reaching out to the whole of the Western Sydney community. One decade later, the Brothers had moved into houses within the community, opened their first youth refuge and begun a family restoration program. By 2002, Marist Youth Care was established, and in the next eight years it would grow to encompass 300 staff members and volunteers and care for 1,000 people every year. The renaming of the organisation in 2016 to Marist180 was to reflect its commitment to creating positive change for everyone.
The Marist Brothers arrived in Australia in 1872 at the invitation of the Archbishop of Sydney.
The Brothers in Australia currently operate as two Provinces (administrative units) with centers in Sydney and Melbourne. The Sydney province comprises New South Wales and Queensland, and is also involved in the work in the District of Melanesia in the Pacific. Melbourne comprises works in the southern and western states and also in Melanesia.
The principal thrust of the Marist ministry in Australia has been primary and secondary education, as part of the Australian catholic school system. In keeping with the wishes of the founder, the early schools were established in poorer parishes in Sydney. Foundations were soon made in country towns, and to provide education for more remote country students the Brothers also established boarding colleges.
The Marist schools were initially staffed almost solely by Brothers, but in more recent times lay people have come to fill all roles in Marist schools and are integral partners in the mission.
In 1896 the Brothers began their work in social welfare. The first project was St Vincent’s Boys Home where the Brothers worked in partnership with the Society of St Vincent de Paul to provide education and trade training for boys. The Home underwent many changes over the years in keeping with changing legislation and social welfare policy. This work continues to-day in a very different form as Marist Youth Care.
In 1938 the Brothers in Australia took their first steps in missionary work when they were invited to establish a school in the Solomon Islands. The missionary work continues to-day in the Solomon Islands, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.
The Brothers of the province are currently involved in a wide range of ministries:
- Primary and secondary education
- Tertiary education
- Education administration
- Social welfare
- Juvenile Justice
- Restorative Justice
- Religious education in state schools
- Parish work