October 2, 2017
Dear Alumni and Parents of Alumni,
Maureen Davidson, the Director of Alumni Relations, and Katie Crowe ’06, the Alumni Relations Coordinator, are busy organizing a number of wonderful alumni events: Homecoming, Young Alumni Christmas Luncheon, gathering of affinity groups, the Join the Conversation series, the Alumni Retreat, the Alumni Women’s Luncheon, the Alumni Awards Banquet, Parents of Alumni Prayer Service and Reception, the Alumni Golf Tournament, and the Reunion Weekend. The outreach to the alumni in these and other ways is in keeping with our founder’s, Fr. Jean-Claude Colin, understanding of the relationship he wanted the Marist religious to have with the graduates from a Marist school. I have highlighted his thinking on this Webpage but let me quote it here:
“The Society of Mary must not forget its students when, having finished their studies, they are out in the world, but it shall try as best it can, through those Marists charged with their care, to provide for their perseverance and salvation, so that they may make even greater strides in the spirit and principles they imbibed while directly under its care.”Constitutions of the Society of Mary (1872),  13.
Fr. Colin understood that an alumnus or alumna from a Marist school enjoys a special bond with the Society of Mary. This bond is rooted in the understanding of the significance of the name Society of Mary or Marist that distinguishes our religious congregation from others. Fr. Colin believed this name was reserved from all eternity precisely for the Society of Mary. Granted that the Marianists, another order with the same name, Society of Mary, would no doubt quibble with this notion. Nonetheless, Marist religious believe that we are called by a gracious choice of Mary to be a member of her Society. It is both privilege and a gift. All gifts that come from God are meant to build up the Church. So the particular gift of the Society of Mary to the Church is to be the presence of Mary in the Church today just as she was present to the Church at its beginnings.
Granted that most alumni view themselves as being connected to Marist School more so than to the Society of Mary. That is fine. But we Marists see the alumni as being part of the Marist spiritual family because they, too, call themselves Marist even when only referencing their relationship to Marist School. There is a spiritual bond or connection or a relationship with the Society of Mary that they enjoy. From this perspective, all of the alumni events can be seen as the arms of the Blessed Mother reaching out to the alumni from her school and pulling them into her embrace. She desires to keep them close to her so that through her Society she may continue “to provide for their perseverance and salvation, so that they may make even greater strides in the spirit and principles they imbibed while directly under its care.” Constitutions of the Society of Mary (1872),  13.
Should you question how such spiritual formation can take place at alumni events all of which have a social dimension to them – meaning lively conversations, good food, and tasty beverages; I invite you to consider the many times the gospels report Jesus himself attending similar social gatherings for which he was roundly criticized. We should not be surprised that his mother would seek to draw alumni to herself through alumni events of a similar nature.
However, there is a “method to her madness,” should this appear to you to be a bit unconventional. Her intentions are best described by these familiar words that I will adapt for our purposes: “Christ is the head of this school. Jesus is the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” As always, the mother of Jesus seeks to draw us to her Son, and she is not above being a bit devious in doing so. You might be surprised by the depth
of faith-filled conversations occur over a glass of wine.
I encourage alumni and parents of alumni to join us at the different alumni events. It is one of those “fringe benefits” that comes with being connected to a Marist school: to be caught up in the embrace of the Mother of Jesus who keeps us close to her so that we remain close to her Son.
Fr. Bill Rowland, S.M.
Acting President & Alumni Chaplain