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FMS Marist Notebooks 30

16/04/2012: General House

The Patrimony Commission has just published the number 30 of Marist Notebooks. This number has three studies and four articles: The Marist Family according to Brother Virgilio León (Antonio Martínez Estaún), The priest and the diocesan pastor (Frederick McMahon), The good Mother and the Virgin of the vow (André Lanfrey); The Bicentennial History Project (Michael Green), The Marist Charism in the land of Mexico (Aureliano Branbila), Sketching a History of the Institute (André Landrey), History Project of the Institute: Bibliography (Juan Moral).

Click on the link to download the PDF file in the official languages of the Institute.

Below we publish the editorial written by Bro André Lanfrey.


This Number 30 of Marist Notebooks seems to me to have a rather special function: instead of the traditional articles reporting on various topics of research, it announces the end of two projects and the launching of another.


Marist origins

Published during 2011, and included in the collection Fontes Historici Societatis Mariae, was the three-volume compilation of everything written by Fr Champagnat, as well as the documents or records produced or commenced in his time. Entitled Origines des Frères Maristes, this work is the fruit of long undertaking by Brother Paul Sester, with the technical aid of several confrères: Jean-Rousson, Louis Richard, Claude Morisson, and Henri Réocreux.

The use of the word “Origines” in the title pays homage to the fundamental work of Frs Coste and Lessard who published Origines Maristes in the years 1960-67. Brother Paul Sester, in his introduction, emphasizes another reason: these documents are not all from the hand of Fr Champagnat and many of the notebooks and registers commenced in his time continue after him. The expression Ecrits du P. Champagnat being too limited, the title that was finally retained appeared the most suitable.

Volume 1 (566 pages) is entitled “From personal project to congregation”. It includes Champagnat’s resolutions, and the eight “Champagnat Notebooks” bringing together the rules of the Mother House, the Prospectus and Statutes, the projected rules, drafts of letters, summaries of conferences and instructions, and account books.

 Volume 2 (785 pages) is entitled “Firming the identity of a religious family”. It contains the register of admissions from 1822 to 1848 and Champagnat’s correspondence, arranged according to subject: letters to the Brothers, to Fr Mazelier, signed administrative letters and minutes. Lastly, we find the sermons, discourses and instructions.

 Volume 3, entitled “Structuring and developing the Marist Brothers”, includes the registers: taking the habit, temporary and perpetual vows, deaths. Then, an “Ecclestiastical Memorial” groups all the notable religious events, such as blessings of chapels, erections of the Stations of the Cross, from 1825 to 1842. The work closes with the “Various individual writings” bringing together various acts of purchase and sale, but also more fundamental documents, such as the promises of the first Brothers and the Spiritual Testament of Fr Champagnat.

The second part of volume 3, (pages 509-698), is devoted to the different indexes: subject, names of places and especially names of persons, Brothers and non-Brothers. This collection of 687 documents thus completes the Origines Maristes of Frs Coste and Lessard as well as the Letters of Champagnat published by Brother Paul Sester in 1985 (Volume 1: Texts) and in 1987 (Volume 2: References), the latter with the aid of Brother Raymond Borne.

 Thanks to this work, we now have in a single collection all the documents concerning the origins of the Institute and overlapping often enough with later periods since the notebooks and registers, published here in their entirety, often continued after 1840. Thanks to some detailed critical scaffolding (introductions, notes, index), it offers researchers an exceptional working tool.


Chronologie Mariste

The General House has also just published a new Chronologie Mariste, from the origins to 2009, drawn up under the direction of Brother Jean Ronzon, former Secretary General. This book of 535 pages in very polished form is Number 1 of a new collection entitled FMS Studia which is intended for the publication of significant works on the Institute.
The work completes the 1976 Chronology of the Institute, but in a rather different spirit. The listed events have been structured in a new chronological arrangement, which is less centred on the internal history (Mother Houses, Superiors General, etc) but attempts to situate the Institute within a general history. This is why there are brief introductions to give an overview of each of the historical phases or emphasize particularly important dates. In addition, the citing of the source of each event, already present in the 1976 chronology, has been systematized, leading to the elimination of certain events not verified by reference sources. Finally, a certain number of maps, photos and appendices offer valuable visual summaries.


Project of a History of the Institute

With the year 2017 approaching, the Spiritual Patrimony Commission believes the time has come for a project of writing a general history of the Institute which, without being too ac- ademic or too detailed, could offer a serious overview of our two centuries of history. The material for such an enterprise is not lacking, as can be seen from the rich bibliography presented below by Brother Juan Moral. But the main difficulty is, without a doubt, to craft it so that the final work remains within reasonable dimensions or does not become simply a compilation of histories of Provinces. This is why Brother Aureliano Brambila has written up, for Mexico, a methodological model giving an overall view, both documented and succinct, of a region of the Institute. For their part, Brs André Lanfrey and Michael Green have attempted to draw up outlines for an enterprise, which will doubtless call for collaboration and undergo modifications.

Thus, this Marist Notebooks No 30 announces a certain ending to Marist research focused on Champagnat and the origins, while outlining the necessity of reflection on the Institute as a whole on the eve of its bicentenary. The article of Brother Antonio Martinez Estaùn on the notion of Marist family, recently re-interpreted by Brother Virgilio Leon, seems to us a good example of this type of work.

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