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About The Brook Center

Mission Statement

The Brook Center provides relationship education, focusing on relationships with self, others, and your environment. As we critically evaluate life experiences and societal influence, we invite curiosity around identity, past experiences, hope for the future, and taking control of individual agency to address our community's urgent needs and improve wellbeing for all of our community members. We focus on holistic development of our students by prioritizing health and wellbeing in personal, relational, and intellectual growth.  

I am like a brook that makes no effort to overcome obstacles in its way. All the obstacles can do is hold me up for a while, as a brook is held up; but during that time it grows broader and deeper and after a while it overflows the obstruction and flows along again. This is how I am going to work.

Fr. William Joseph Chaminade

Growing Broader and Deeper

The Brook: A Center for Student Empowerment and Wellbeing draws its name from this quote attributed to Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850), a priest in the diocese of Bordeaux, France in 1817, and founder of the Society of Mary.

Chaminade faced many, many obstacles in his life where this metaphor is reflective of his patience and quiet perseverance. First, when the French Revolution began, he had to choose to make a vow of allegiance to the state or quit his ministry (and life as he knew it) and go into hiding. He chose the latter, moving to Bordeaux, France and continuing his underground ministry at a great risk to his life. During this time, he essentially had to wait for the government to change so he would be safe once again, and at the same time, he didn't let it stop him from continuing to minister to those in the most need.

“But no one knew the power of time and patience better than Father Chaminade.” ~ Jean Baptiste Lalanne, SM

After a period of safety, a change in government forced him to leave France for a period of exile in Spain. At the time he was forced out, he had no idea how long he would be there or what he would do during that time. He spent every day in prayer and developed a vision to re-Christianize France, but had to wait until he could return three years later. After returning to France and setting up successful Christian communities, or Sodalities, they were suppressed by Napoleon, and at one point, he went to prison for 100 days. Nevertheless, after that period of time he went on to form the Society of Mary, 17 years after his first Sodalities met.

Finally, in the last ten years of his life he was ostracized by the brothers in the Society of Mary, the order he founded. Yet through all of these he adapted and persevered. Often that persistence looked a lot like waiting. But it was active waiting. It was prayer, and building relationships, and developing communities of support that helped him grow broader and deeper. For Chaminade, it was knowing that the obstacle, in his case, the various governments in power, might not ever be removed. That didn't mean he wouldn't be able to find a way to do the work he was called to, and he did this within the context of community. He worked with diverse groups of people to create communities of support, faith, learning and growth. Because of Chaminade's persistence, and in part because of the enormous obstacle of the French Revolution, we have a worldwide Marianist family today, made up of lay people and vowed religious, working and ministering all over the world. 

Like Fr. Chaminade, the Brook Center encourages and empowers all of our UD community members to grow and deepen relationships with yourself and others as part of your holistic wellbeing, and the wellbeing of the communities to which we belong.  Obstacles and challenges are inevitable in life, but by broadening and deepening our connection to ourselves and one another, we can grow to overcome those obstacles, creating a new path forward and finding beauty in our lives.


Special thanks to Allison Leigh, Director of Marianist Strategies, for providing a wonderful history of Fr. Chaminade’s life.


The Brook Center