|Admin_History||Saint Marcellin Champagnat, a Priest from France, founded the lay religious Institute under the name of the Little Brothers of Mary on the 2nd of January 1817. In 1863, the order was approved as an autonomous Institute of pontifical right by the Holy See, assuming the title of Marist Brothers of the Schools. This title provides the post-nominal initials of F.M.S (Fratres Maristae a Scholis) which are used by the Marist Brothers. The order’s main mission is to educate children and young people, with a particular emphasis on those who are the most neglected.|
The Institute of Marist Brothers of the Schools is led by a Superior General, assisted by a Vicar General and Council and is divided geographically into different Provinces, with each Province having a Provincial Superior and Provincial Council. The Provincial and Provincial Council reports to the Generalate, which refers to the General Council community residing in the General House in Rome. Supreme authority is vested in the General Chapter which meets every eight years and comprises the Provincial Superiors and delegates elected by the Brothers of each Province. Under Canon Law, the Superior General, Vicar General and Provincial Superiors are counted as Major Superiors which means they have the exercise of authority under the Institute’s Constitutions. Until 1968 members of the General Council were known as Assistants General and were also Major Superiors.
Within each Province there are different communities with each community having a Leader, formerly known as Director, appointed by the Provincial. In some cases, there was also a Sub-Director. In most cases, Marist Brothers live together in a community house which may either be a standalone house near to the school(s) in which they are teaching or may form part of the compound of buildings in which the school is located. Throughout the Institute it was generally the case that the posts of Director and school Principal were held by a single Brother, with the Brothers of the community all teaching at the same school.
The first Marist Brothers to come to the British Isles came from the Province of Beaucamps. Arriving in 1852, they set up a community in St Anne’s Parish, London, which was the first Marist Brothers’ community to be created outside of France. Over the years, the Brothers went on to establish, with varying success, communities in Glasgow (1858), Dundee (1860), Sligo (1862), Dumfries (1873), Jarrow (1876), Edinburgh (1877), Athlone (1884), Swinford (1902), Castlerea (1903), Greenock (1914), Baillieborough (1915), Largs (1920), Wolverhampton (1925), Strokestown (1928), Grove Ferry, Kent (1929), Birmingham (1937), Dublin (1954) and Ballina (1956). As well as these communities, the British and Irish Marist Brothers also established missions in South Africa (1867), Australia (1871), New Zealand (1876), Nigeria (1949) and Cameroon (1965). These two latter missions created independent administrative units, with Brothers from Nigerian communities also going on to establish communities in Ghana (1983) and Kenya.
The first incarnation of the Province of Great Britain and Ireland was created in 1854 when Brother Pascal, as 3rd Assistant to the Superior General, was given charge of the Province of the North which included the Brothers in London. This was expanded to include all communities in Great Britain in 1860. Later in 1873 the Province was renamed the Province of the Isles which comprised of Northern France, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and South Africa. By 1909 France, Australia and South Africa had been detached from the Province of the Isles and the new title of Province of Great Britain was used, changing again in 1922 to Province of Great Britain and Ireland. This title remained until 1969 when Ireland was detached by decree of the Superior General to become an autonomous District of the Institute and the Provincial title reverted to Province of Great Britain. However, in 1972 Ireland’s status changed to Vice-Province, dependent on the Province of Great Britain, Ireland and Nigeria. A penultimate change came in 1992 when Nigeria became a Province in its own right. Finally, a significant administrative change occurred in 2000 when the Province of West Central Europe was created, comprising the countries of Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Most of the material within the collection relates to the administration of the Province and its numerous communities, many of which centred around schools. Consequently, there is a mass of information regarding Catholic education, particularly in Scotland, and the period which the archive spans witnessed significant events in the history of education in Scotland. The Education (Scotland) Act 1872 introduced compulsory education for children aged 5 – 13, the creation of school Boards for every parish and burgh and the optional transfer of parochial schools to the school Boards’ control without compensation. There are substantial records relating to St Mungo’s Academy, Glasgow, and St Joseph’s College, Dumfries. Both schools are notable because they remained under the control of the Marist Brothers up until the 1980s, well beyond the Education (Scotland) Act 1918 which offered to transfer control (and financial burden) of denominational schools to the local authority.
A significant amount of material also relates to the relationship between the Province and the Generalate. The process of becoming a Marist Brother is also illustrated within the archive thanks to papers relating to vocation and formation as well as extensive records from novitiates, the main training grounds for young Marist Brothers.