When the Marianists first came to the United States in 1849, they brought with them the guiding principles instilled by the Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, the diocesan priest who founded the Society of Mary. Simply stated, they set out to educate young men to be grounded in faith, develop as whole persons, and be prepared for careers and leadership in society and the Church. Today, we might say they wanted to teach them to learn, lead and serve.
This fundamental philosophy is the driving force behind the creation of the Forever Marianist initiative, a UD fundraising effort that focuses on continued education of future generations in the Marianist tradition and the advancing of Marianist values. To jumpstart this new initiative, three alumni families and the parents of a current student have given more than $650,000.
“Our faith commitment to the values we hold up as being really important builds up our students,” said Father James Fitz, S.M. ’68, University vice president for mission and rector. “If our students learn the skills and ability to build community, it’s one of the greatest gifts this world could receive.”
The initiative supports projects out of the rector’s office, including Campus Ministry, as well as centers in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Center for Catholic Education. It also supports collections of the Marian Library, academic programs and the chapels that can be found across campus. These intentional efforts are designed to keep UD’s Catholic, Marianist mission and identity at the core of a UD education and active in the community, Fitz said.
While fewer religious brothers can be found on campus, they continue to do good work in classrooms, Masses, retreats and the neighborhood, where their homes are a welcoming presence to students.
“In his inaugural address, President Eric F. Spina talked about UD being the university for the common good, and that’s really central to what the Marianists are all about,” said Brother Tom Giardino, S.M. ’65, executive director of the Association of Marianist Universities. “We are partners in this mission. The Forever Marianist initiative will help the whole University flourish as we strive to be in service to our campus community and beyond.”
The brothers are also joined by Marianist sisters and lay Marianists in furthering the charism on campus. This includes the Marianist Educational Associates, a group of lay leaders from across the University who have completed a formation program to deepen their understanding of the Marianist traditions and beliefs. They’ve made a commitment to sustain, enrich and advance these ideals moving forward at all three Marianist universities.
Andy Veres ’64, one of the lead donors to the initiative, said he has remained engaged with the University and Marianist teachings through the years. “It is so important to perpetuate everything the Marianists touch on campus and throughout our lives,” he said.
Said Fitz, “What we do as Marianists is to bring Christ into our environment here at the University and work for the establishment of his kingdom, which is a kingdom of love, of justice, of peace.”
At the University of Dayton, this truth ties the community as forever Flyers and forever Marianist.
To learn more about the Forever Marianist initiative, contact email@example.com.
Photograph by Mary Kate Fleisher '23