Today we remember the 148th anniversary of the Approbation of Fr. Jean-Claude Colin’s Constitutions of 1873.
Fr. Colin was the founder of the Society of Mary – priests and brothers. Born at the close of the 18th century in revolution-torn France, Fr. Colin was convinced that the Blessed Virgin wanted a group of men and women to do her work in the world at a time of turmoil and challenge. In 1836, Fr. Colin obtained from Pope Gregory XVI canonical approbation of the Society of Mary with simple vows, and in the same year Fr. Colin was chosen superior general. With this inspiration he forged the way for a new family of consecrated religious and laity in the Church – the Marist family.
During the eighteen years of his administration (1836-1854) Fr. Colin showed great activity, organizing the different branches of his society, founding in France missionary houses and colleges, and above all sending, to the various missions of Oceania which had been entrusted to the Marists, as many as seventy-four priests and forty-three brothers, several of whom gave up their lives in the attempt to convert the natives. In 1854 he resigned the office of superior general and retired to Notre-Dame-de-la-Neyliere, where he spent the last twenty years of his life revising and completing the constitutions of the Society impressing on them the spirit of the Blessed Virgin, a spirit of humility and self-denial of which he was himself a perfect model. Two years before his death he had the joy of seeing the Constitutions of the Society of Mary approved by the Holy See on February 28, 1873. Under his leadership, as founder, the Marists would proclaim Christ’s message in Mary’s gentle spirit ‘on whatever distant shore’ to which they were sent.
Today Marists throughout the world pray that Jean-Claude Colin will become better known and revered. As his Cause for Beatification is being pursued, the Marists seek graces through his intercession for themselves and the people they serve.
May Mary’s gentle spirit be our guide! Amen!