Skip to content

Who We Are


The presence of the Marist Fathers and Brothers in the United States began in 1863 when Frs. Henri Bellanger, SM and Joseph Gautherin, SM arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana with other Catholic missionaries coming to serve the growing Catholic immigrant population during the Civil War. The Marists were part of an immigrant Church struggling to survive and prosper in a sometimes anti-Catholic land.
They established the first Marist American foundation in Convent, Louisiana where they served the needs of the French speaking minorities along the Mississippi River.

They took pastoral care of St. Michael’s parish in Convent, LA and St. Mary’s parish in New Orleans. In 1864 they took up the administrative and teaching duties at Jefferson College.

In the mid-1800s the Marist mission work expanded into the New England states to serve the French-Canadian immigrants working on farms and in mills and factories.

The Marists expanded their mission work west beginning in California in 1880 when they accepted an invitation from the Archbishop of San Francisco to staff a new seminary. Over time their mission work extended into Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Hawaii.

In 1886 the US Province became a vice-province of the French province and then a separate province in 1889. Fr. Benoit Forestier, SM served as the first provincial of the US Province.

The first novitiate house of the American Province opened in Davidsonville, MD in 1890 and a second novitiate house was established in Washington, DC.

Beginning in 1897 Marists began working in Georgia serving the Diocese of Savannah in both pastoral work and education. In 1901 Marist College, a secondary school for boys, Marist College, was created in Atlanta, Georgia.

By 1923 the US Province expanded to include Mexico and Canada (these countries are now separate provinces).

Due to the growth of the Marist presence, the province split into the provinces of Boston and Washington, DC in 1924, and the province of San Francisco in 1962. All provinces were unified into one Marist Province of the US in 2009.

2013 marked the 150th anniversary of the Marist congregation’s arrival in the US.

All Marists are missionary in character, moving to the margins of the Church.