Sister Mary Magdalen Smyth guides the Lay Marist/Marist Way groups in England and in a recent article she writes:
The Society of Mary (Marists) has had a lay branch from the very beginning.
That beginning was 1816 with the Pledge of Fourvière, though the members only came together in 1826 (Sisters) and 1836 (Fathers). The Founder, John Claude Colin, always insisted that the Society was not complete without the lay branch. In the early years this branch was called the Third Order, but in recent years most groups have adopted a title that emphasises better the lay character of their groupings. In England they are known as the Marist Way.
Until the latter part of the 20th century, the groups in England were under the direction of the Marist Fathers, but as the Sisters had to close most of their independent schools, they have become more and more involved with the Marist Laity, and many of the groups in this country are directed spiritually by the Sisters. They are also more involved in parish work, and continue to spread the Marist spirit through their work and contacts in this area, whereas in their schools, the spirit was “caught” and spread by contact and almost osmosis.
(to be continued)