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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Marianist founder venerated

By Allen DeLong
Special to The Advertiser

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade's annual Feast Day, the day of his death and the day his life is celebrated, falls on Jan. 22.

Last year he was declared a Blessed of God, which means that he is worthy to be venerated by the Marianists and those connected to the Marianists. With another miracle, as approved by Rome, Chaminade will be declared a saint, one who is worthy of veneration by the universal church. Let me share with you the life of this charismatic man.

Father William Joseph Chaminade founded the congregation of The Brothers of Mary, now revered as Marianists, members of a religious congregation in the Catholic Church comprised of brothers and priests. They arrived on O'ahu from Dayton, Ohio, in 1883 to assume administration of the school then called the College of Saint Louis.

Chaminade was born in 1761 in Perigueux, France.

He later entered the seminary and was ordained a priest.

He began a career as a teacher until the French Revolution brought unexpected detours. He refused to sign the Civil Oath binding the clergy to the government rather than Rome, and held a ministry underground with members who remained faithful to their religious beliefs.

Chaminade worked openly until he was forced into exile and escaped to Spain. He lived for three years in poverty, then returned to Bordeaux and established an organization to help rekindle religious faith in the region.

In time the organization grew. Several who helped him asked that he assist them in dedicating their lives more completely to God. That led to the women's group Daughters of Mary and the men's group Brothers of Mary.

Father Chaminade fulfilled his life's mission of serving God through the formation and expansion of the Marianists. He died close to his 89th year in 1850.

This week, I ask that you join Marianists around the world in celebrating the great gifts given to us by God through the life of this great man.

Through his courage, vision and dedication, Chaminade's followers have been ministering in Hawai'i for 119 years. Let us celebrate his life and how we have been enhanced and enabled by his spirit among us.

The Rev. Allen DeLong is president of Saint Louis School.