About Us

Laity in the Marist Project

Fr Jean Claude Colin, with others, founded the Society of Mary. Laity were in the Marist project from its beginnings and received our first Papal approval from Pope Gregory XVI in 1834. One of Fr Colin’s constant ideas was that the Society include a branch for people “living in the world.”  In 1850 the Third Order of Mary for those living the spirit of Mary in daily life was given formal Church approval. The Association of Mary is a contemporary form of the Marist Third Order and is supported as a branch of the Society of Mary.


The World Marist Laity Coordination team Ireland August 2019

Marist: Joyful Ordinariness and a Common Touch

Marist virtues of Hospitality, Simplicity, Joy, Mercy, Solidarity, Humility and Daring Trust in God with a compassionate common touch, conform us to Christ as they did Mary, in a way that is ideally suited to today’s world . Mary helps us welcome the Holy Spirit and keep our focus on Christ. Lay Marists live Mary’s way with enthusiasm but no fuss, being alongside people, supporting and nurturing God’s presence in their lives. Jean Claude Colin encouraged us to establish a Marian church, with the heart of a mother beating at its centre.  Together with Marist Religious we carry the Name of Mary and are committed to imitating her way of living the Gospel.

The Work of Mary

The name ‘Marist’ is a family name and you may notice it begins with the first three letters of Mary’s name and ends with the last three of Christ who is always our focus.  There are four religious branches; Marist Priests and Brothers (SM), Marist Brothers of the Schools (FMS), Marist Sisters (SM), Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary(SMSM), and the Lay Branch which has many different groups.

The Society of Mary is part of something much greater which the first Marists called  “the work of Mary”. This expression means Mary wants all people to experience the mercy of God. She calls others to share her concern: “I will give you my name and you will do my work.”

The work of those who live her spirit is to bring the gospel of love and mercy to the world. Mary has a special love and tenderness for those who bear her name. So to be called ‘Marist’ is to express our relationship with Mary, our commitment to be disciples of Christ like her and our desire to live in a certain way and participate in this work of Mary.

A Tree with Many Branches

In 1837 Fr Colin spoke of a world-wide Marist mission, saying that “the congregation of the Blessed Virgin” will have several branches. It will be open to all kinds of people… This applies above all to the Laity… and has a variety of forms today from intentional commitment to a more general connection with Marist spiritualty.  

The recurrent emblem of a multi-branched tree serves as a reminder of how the lay branch is integral to the full Marist vision. 

Lay Marists: A Bridge to Souls

In the mind of Fr J. C. Colin, the Lay association should be open to everyone.  There was to be unity in spirit, the same spirit for all Marists, but a healthy flexibility in the practical details, and a great variety in types of groups.

Any Christian attracted to be like Mary, with a love for the people of God, wanting to be supported by Mary as an effective disciple of Christ, bearing his presence to the world like she did is welcome.

This is a way of simplicity open to all. To be like Mary is to be like a ‘bridge to souls’; effective at connecting with people because we are alongside them in everyday ordinariness.



At our best, we are instruments of God’s mercy; we want to share God’s boundless love especially with those who find themselves on the margins. Lay Marists want to be open to God like Mary, in every aspect of ordinary life: our family, work, prayer, relationships, church, social and community life.  Having a special bond with Mary, we remain close to her, and in that way, become like her and grow in her way of following Jesus.