The Marianists (Society of Mary) is a Roman Catholic religious order of men who founded Chaminade University as St. Louis Junior College in 1955. They have been bearers of the Catholic and Marianist traditions in their educational efforts since they first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1883.
They live in a community of equals, brothers and priests, modeling the Spirit of Mary, the mother of Jesus and witness to Christ’s transforming presence on campus. There are over 20 Marianists brothers and priests who live in three separate community houses on the campus. Some of the brothers serve the University as administrators, professors, campus ministers, and more. Additionally some of the brothers serve St. Louis School, a school for young men grades 5-12 also on our campus. Some of our brothers are in active retirement and can still be seen helping out in various ministries on campus.
The University is named after the founder of the Society of Mary, Father William Joseph Chaminade, a French, Catholic priest who survived the political turmoil and religious persecution of the French Revolution. Father Chaminade believed that the rebuilding of the Church in France in the aftermath of the French Revolution would best be accomplished by the engagement of the laity in small communities of faith, dedicated to prayer, education and acts of service to the larger community.
In 1849, members of the Society of Mary came to the United States to help immigrant populations. As an outgrowth of their ministry, they founded first what grew to be the University of Dayton and, shortly thereafter, what became St. Mary’s University of San Antonio. In September of 1883, eight Marianists arrived in Honolulu and assumed the leadership of what is now St. Louis School. After many years of encouragement by the alumni of St. Louis, the decision was made by the Marianists to establish a Catholic college in Honolulu and, as a consequence, St. Louis Junior College opened in 1955. In 1957, the college became a four-year coeducational institution and the name was changed to Chaminade College. Chaminade expanded its services to the community in 1967 with the establishment of an evening session to serve adults with business, family and military responsibilities who desired to pursue a college degree. In 1977 Chaminade added graduate programs and the name was changed to Chaminade University of Honolulu.