A Marianist Tradition: Marian Sodalities and Their Effects on Chaminade

On September 23, students at the Sodality Opening Prayer Service proceed to the chapel.

By Andrew Donnelly ’20

Sodalities are a tradition of monumental importance at Chaminade High School. Every Monday, groups of young Flyers attend Sodality to grow in faith and virtue. As a Marianist institution, Chaminade seeks to better understand Christ through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. One way that we do this is by consecrating ourselves to Mary through sodality. 

Throughout the late 1700s, the founder of the Marianist Order and namesake of our school, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, underwent tremendous amounts of persecution while living in France on account of his strong faith.  After refusing to take the corrupt Oath of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, he continued his ministry in secret. He then left France in 1797 and fled to the Spanish city of Zaragoza.  

At the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, God made clear to Father Chaminade his purpose—to bring Catholic faith and values back to France. In the year 1800, he left Zaragoza, and returned to Bordeaux, France. He preached the faith to the people of France, and, under the constant threat of persecution, bravely instituted Marian Sodalities in Bordeaux. 

Bro. Stephen Balletta S.M. ‘74 said, “When Blessed Chaminade faced the effects of the French Revolution and the wholesale loss of faith throughout France, he gave tremendous thought to the methods he would employ to help re-Christianize France after the revolution. One of the chief methods he used was the sodality of Our Lady of the Pillar.” 

A statue of the Blessed Virgin reminds students of our dedication to her.

The purpose of Sodalities to our Blessed Mother is to, amidst the hardships in our lives, dedicate ourselves to Mary, and find peaceful time to express our true beliefs and love for Christ

This was the reason that Father Chaminade reinstated the Marian Sodality in Bordeaux—to offer a source of light in a dark world. The Sodality of Bordeaux and its tradition spread rapidly throughout France, reinvigorating the French with the Catholic faith. Years later, along with another dedicated to sodalist—Venerable Adèle de Trenquelléon—Father Chaminade founded the Marianist Order. As Bro. Stephen Balletta said, “The Marianist Order was born from the Marianist Sodalities.” 

The Sodalities here at Chaminade High School aim to achieve a very similar goal to that of the Sodality of Bordeaux—to provide for students a place to congregate, pray, and align themselves with Christ. Sodality gives all of us a chance to step out of the hectic activities that dominate our lives, and dedicate time to Jesus Christ and His mother. Being a Catholic is not always popular or fashionable in today’s culture; sodalities constantly remind us of how important it is to stay strong in our Catholic convictions through incorporating God into our lives. 

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Sodality at Chaminade stretches from 3:00 to 3:30 every Monday afternoon. Students are assigned different faculty members as their sodality moderators. The students take this time converse about their lives and spend time united in prayer. Sodalities are an essential part of the fabric of the Chaminade community. Young men from different towns, backgrounds, and friend groups come together to unite under the most noble of causes—love of Christ.

As Cole Christ ‘20 explains, “Sodalities are an important part of my Chaminade experience. After school every Monday, I am able to take a step back from all the class work and strengthen my relationship with God through group discussion.”

Sodality lies at the very foundation of Marianist tradition. These services have largely contributed to the success of the Marianist order. By incorporating sodalities into our weekly life at Chaminade, we are following in the footsteps of Father Chaminade, and striving to become better Catholics. As we begin another year of this meaningful tradition, it is important to recognize the incredible role that it plays at Chaminade High School. Sodality is a spiritual anchor, a support system, and the glue that holds the Marianist Community together.