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The historical and educational context for the Characteristics of Marianist Universities is both local and global. The Society of Mary (Marianists) was founded in France in 1817 by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. The first Marianists arrived in the United States in 1849. The reputation of the Marianists as educators in Europe led the first brothers in the United States to establish schools.

Today, the Marianist brothers and priests of the Province of the United States serve in communities and ministries from Honolulu to Puerto Rico and in Eastern Africa, India, Ireland and Mexico. In the United States, along with the three universities, the Marianists sponsor 17 high schools, several middle school operations and four retreat centers, and they minister in several parishes. Globally, Marianist education takes place in more than 24 countries, in nearly 100 elementary, secondary/middle and tertiary level schools, including the three U.S. universities, and in countless nontraditional education programs and educational activities. Approximately 8,000 lay persons and 200 Marianist religious work in these institutions serving more than 112,000 children, youth and adults.

The first edition of the Characteristics of Marianist Universities was published in 1999 and then republished in 2006 and 2014 with the same basic text. Twenty years after its appearing, the normal evolution of time and culture called for a refreshing. In 2003, the universities themselves formed the Association of Marianist Universities (AMU) in which the Province is a member. Dr. Steve Neiheisel, the previous Executive Director of the AMU, initiated the update effort and gathered representatives from all three Marianist universities to prepare the present edition.

This edition includes the updated texts of the Characteristics, parts of the original Introduction [the full Introduction and a Glossary of Terms can be found on the AMU web site,], a section on the AMU, a brief description of each university, and a short piece on the Origins of the Marianist Family. The eminent Marianist educator, Paul J. Hoffer, SM, wrote: "On beginning his work, Father Chaminade was thinking: “For new needs, new solutions are required.”

These pages rustle with new needs and proposed new solutions, all in the service of the Catholic and Marianist mission and identity of Chaminade University, St. Mary's University and the University of Dayton. These universities exist to serve the Church and world in the tradition of Chaminade whose statue is found on each campus that summons us to follow in his path.

—Brother Thomas F. Giardino, SM, Executive Director, Association of Marianist Universities

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New edition of a booklet originally published in 1999 and republished in 2006 with revisions.