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Distinctive Traits of Marianist Spirituality: Mary, Mission, Community

- Father Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

Published in Marian Studies Volume 54 (2003)

*Fr. Thomas A. Thompson, S.M., is the director of the Marian Library and serves on the faculty of the International Marian Research Institute. He has been secretary of the Mariological Society of America and editor of Marian Studies since 1990.

Marianist spirituality is rooted in the apostolic and Marian charism of its founder, William Joseph Chaminade. The lifetime of William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850), spent almost entirely in Bordeaux and its environs, spans the great political upheavals which occurred in Europe--the French Revolution, the Empire, and the Restoration. With the outbreak of revolution, he left the college-seminaire of St. Charles (Mussidan) and went to Bordeaux where he engaged in a clandestine ministry, until forced into exile in Saragossa, Spain, 1797. There, at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar both his apostolic and Marian dedication were nourished. Upon his return to Bordeaux in 1800, he established the Sodality (congregation), which had existed there previously. From the Sodality developed what today are called the Marianist Lay Communites, and the two religious congregations of Marianists: the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, founded with Adele Batz de Trenquelleon (1816), and the Society of Mary (1817). The religious congregations and the Sodality were bonded by the same spirit and mission. The Sodality fostered many apostolic works and lives of dedicated service; the Cardinal Archbishop of Bordeaux testified in 1869 that "if we seek out the beginnings of all our works in the city of Bordeaux, the name of Father Chaminade is inscribed at the origins of each."

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