Virtual Learning Community

NACMS is offering Marianist Online Courses as reserved courses. This is a great way for members of the Marianist Family to build community as they deepen their knowledge of Marianist topics. 

Reserved courses consist of groups of 6-12 people who are interested in taking a particular course together at the same time. You can choose any of the courses listed below and we can run the course at your convenience. (Dates do need to fall within the calendar dates of the UD VLCFF cycles).

Contact Patti Gehred, Program Coordinator, at if you are interested in setting up a reserved course or have any other questions regarding our Marianist Online Courses.


Five - Week Courses
(Cost: $50.00 per person. 2.5 CEUs)


Marianist Studies: Charism

Course Summary - Intermediate
What does it mean to be Marianist? In this course, we will explore the concept of charism and what is special about the Marianist charism. We will delve into spirituality and the principles and practices of Marianist spirituality. We will become familiar with the Marianist apostolate and its importance in forming Marianist life. We will understand the real and potential impact of the Marianist mission on the wider Church and global community. And finally, we will have a deeper and broader understanding of what it means to be Marianist.
All readings available online.


*Marianist Studies: Community

Course Summary - Intermediate
From the first days of the Church, people longing to know and live the Gospel of Jesus gathered into small communities. "The letters of Paul and the Acts of the Apostles both make clear that the early communities of Christians ordinarily gathered in the homes of members." (Lee and Cowan). This way of being Church evolved into structures we now know as parishes. However, the need for smaller, more personal ways to develop one's faith remained. Within Marianist tradition, community is a key component of its spirit and charism. This course will investigate both the general elements of Church life and the principles around which small faith communities operate and the particular characteristics of Marianist faith communities. Class members will be introduced to the Marianist Family, religious as well as lay communities. Various ways are described of how communities support members and address critical needs of our world. The impact of these communities on Church and culture also will be addressed, as well as their importance to the future of the Church.
All readings available online.


Marianist Studies: Education

Course Summary - Intermediate
This course is an advanced course in Marianist education. It presumes that one has a basic understanding of the Characteristics of Marianist Education (CMEs), and that there is a desire to deepen one's understanding of and commitment to the mission of Mary. Recognizing that the CMEs are interconnected with principles of Marianist spirituality, each week these elements will be woven together and their meaning illuminate as a whole. This approach steps back and looks at the constituent elements of Marianist pedagogy. Marianist education goes beyond instruction to developing persons rooted in faith, whose hearts and minds are directed toward Chaminade's mission to "educate in the faith and to multiply Christians."
** The readings for this course are from a variety of sources"”old and new. In some instances, they are from documents originally written to and for the vowed religious of the Society of Mary. As such, the language used may be gender-specific and the context particular to that state of life. The mission of Marianist education, however, is shared by men and women, religious and lay. We believe all of the readings have the power to speak to all of us who embrace that mission.
•    Required Book:  Virtues for Mission, Joseph H. Lackner, SM, NACMS: Dayton, OH, 2003.


Marianist Studies: Founders

Course Summary - Basic
On September 3, 2000, Father William Joseph Chaminade was beatified. Pope John Paul II, in his remarks at St. Peter's Square, commented on how Father Chaminade gave the Church a "new way to bear witness to the faith." Also, on that day, Father David Fleming, SM, Superior General of the Society of Mary, reminded the Marianist Family of how Father Chaminade "understood the need to renew institutional structures of the Church, but, above all, to enhance the attractive force of the gospel in the life of ordinary people. He thought that all could live a style of Christian community modeled on the first community of Jerusalem, with 'one heart and one soul'".
Many ask to know more about the life of Blessed Chaminade. We cannot know him, though, without becoming acquainted with Adéle de Batz de Trenquelléon and Marie Thérése de Lamourous, two of his closest collaborators and persons now regarded as co-founders of the Marianist Family. Here, then, is a course designed to convey the basic stories of these three remarkable people - how they faced the challenges of their times and left a legacy for us to draw on for our times..  
•    Required Book: Stefanelli SM. , Joseph Chaminade, Pragmatist with a Vision North American Center for Marianist Studies, Dayton, Ohio, 2000.
•    Required Book: Stefanelli, SM, Joseph Adele, Aristocrat for the Poor North American Center for Marianist Studies, Dayton, Ohio, 1999.
•    Required Book: Stefanelli, Joseph , SM, Marie Therese de Lamourous, Firm of Hand, Loving of Heart North American Center for Marianist Studies, Dayton, Ohio, 2001.


Marianist Studies: Leadership

Course Summary - Intermediate
"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." John F. Kennedy"
This course invites those holding leadership roles in the Marianist family to learn and discuss how to integrate excellent leadership skills with goals and principles of the Marianist Mission. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and challenge each other to become purposeful, developmental, adaptive, collaborative, and transformational Marianist leaders of the present and future.
•    Required Book: James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner The Leadership Challenge Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA, 2012. ISBN: 0470651725; ISBN-13: 978-0470651728


*Marianist Studies: Mary, Holy Possibility

Course Summary - Intermediate
"With God all things are possible."
In this course we will visit with Mary as believer, prophet, God-bearer/mother, disciple, and companion"”reflecting on the events of her life and the life of her son Jesus.
The kaleidoscope of events in Mary's life, the various historical and Marianist voices relating the meaning of Mary in their lives, and times for sitting with Mary and Jesus in Scripture will present the challenge of discipleship. Mary will become our teacher, a woman of challenge, and our companion on the way as we continue to grow in holiness.
Whether you have a relationship with Mary or are indifferent to her, whether you do or do not have "devotion" to her, we will encounter Mary, our gift from God. We will ponder as she does and ask her to journey with us, as we would ask a favor of a friend.
•    Required Book: Mary, Holy Possibility North American Center for Marianist Studies, Dayton, Ohio, 2015. 


*Marianist Studies: Prayer

Course Summary - Intermediate
Father Chaminade asks his followers to devote an hour each day to prayer (perhaps in two or three shorter periods). Each week this course will explore various "methods" or practices of prayer, both individual and group prayer, and collectively reflect on the journey.
Father Chaminade wrote, "Prayer is to be kept with the discretion of a great love." Because many insights will be personal, you will be encouraged to keep a prayer journal. The Spirit of God is always at work, everywhere"”including in our own hearts.
Course Materials
•    Required Book: Enfleshing the Word, Enrique Aguilera, SM, and José María Arnaiz, SM, Dayton, OH.


Marianist Studies: Justice
Course Summary - Intermediate
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, faced with a Church and a social order that had been torn asunder during the French Revolution, fashioned a vision for rebuilding both the Church and French society. Chaminade challenged his followers to "think big" in defining their mission. He called them to participate in creating a community of communities (a network that today we call the Marianist Family), which would be the vehicle for "multiplying Christians" throughout France.
Today, 200 years later, we live in a very different world, yet one in which many people believe both Church and society are in need of renewal and revitalization. In light of contemporary challenges, how can we tap into Chaminade's original vision for making positive change? This course will help participants consider ways that they can be involved in promoting changes that will build a more authentic and credible Church community and social order. They will be challenged to integrate the insights of Chaminade with the realities of modern life in envisioning a Marianist approach to social change for the 21st century.
All readings available online.


Marianist Studies: William J. Ferree, SM: Social Justice

Course Summary - Intermediate/Advanced
What actions are we called to do when practicing the virtues of Social Justice and Social Charity? That is the question Father William J. Ferree, SM, discussed in his 1942 thesis "The Act of Social Justice" and in his 1948 pamphlet "An Introduction to Social Justice". In this course we will revisit Father Ferree’s writings to better understand the impact of his thinking and how it challenges us to rethink how we go about Social Justice. Throughout the course we will work together to investigate how his work is relevant to us in today’s world.



Three - Week Courses
(Cost $40.00. 1.5 CEUs)


Marianist Studies: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of William Joseph Chaminade

Course Summary - Basic

"I am like a brook that makes no effort to overcome obstacles in its way. All the obstacles can do is hold me up for awhile, as a brook is held up; but during that time it grows broader and deep and after awhile it overflows the obstruction and flows along again. This is how I am going to work. (In an article by Jean Baptiste Lalanne, SM, "The Society of Mary" in Dictionnaire des orders religieux, 1854)
2011 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Joseph Chaminade. We are commemorating this event by offering this course exploring the events in his lifetime and the legacy of his vision today.

If you are new to learning about Marianist topics, learning about the life of Father Chaminade will be a perfect starting point. If you have been involved in the Marianist family in any capacity, this course will be a great place to celebrate how the life of Father Chaminade has helped shape your Marianist identity.

Throughout the three weeks we will look at the life of Father Chaminade, explore how Mary inspired Father Chaminade and how this inspiration continues to influence the Marianist family today, and read about how current members of the Marianist family are feeling called to continue his legacy today.

•    Required Book: Chaminade, Pragmatist with a Vision, Joseph Stefanelli, SM


Marianist Studies: Prayer Circle

Course Summary- Intermediate
Prerequisite: Marianist Studies: Prayer
"Mental prayer" is defined by Saint Teresa of Avila as "an exchange of friendship in which we converse one-to-one with this God by whom we know we are loved." To engage in mental prayer, then, is something other than giving ourselves up to thoughts and reflections, even if these play a part in mental prayer.
To perform mental prayer is to enter into personal relationship and conversation with God, to remain in God's company and be glad, knowing we are loved, and desiring to respond to God's love. -- Marcel Coulin, SM
William Joseph Chaminade, Founder of the Marianist Family, writes, "Prayer is the common and unique source of all the virtues." As we join to explore the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, participants commit to spending a total of an hour a day in prayer and bringing the challenges and the treasures of their prayer to our prayer circle.
•    Required Book: Marie-Joëlle Bec, FMI Walking with Adèle NACMS: Dayton, OH, 2003.
•    Required Book: God Alone, thoughts from Adèle NACMS: Dayton, OH, 2005


Marianist Studies: Three Offices
Course Summary - Basic
This course is based on a talk given by Father Joseph Stefanelli to the NACMS staff in September of 2009. We felt his talk answered many of the questions we have heard regarding the Three Offices throughout the years. So we took his talk and supported his words with other writings of Marianist religious and lay to offer a course that discusses the origins the Three Offices as well as supports using this system in contemporary times.
All readings available online.


Marianist Studies: Virtues for Mission

Course Summary - Basic
Using the book Virtues for Mission by Joseph H. Lackner, SM, we will explore the System of Virtues practiced by Father William Joseph Chaminade. "The method [of Marianist virtues] is a spiritual journey of being changed gradually by progressively taking on certain attitudes of Jesus Christ. The process leads you to a new awareness of yourself, of others, and of God. . . . Although you must give your own best efforts to this undertaking, growth in the virtues of Jesus will always be a collaboration of your efforts, the action of the Holy Spirit, and the transforming presence of your Spiritual Mother Mary. At first you will be aware mostly of your own efforts, but as you grow you will become more aware of the grace of the Holy Spirit and of the presence of Mary shaping your life in the virtues of Jesus." (Growing in the Virtues of Jesus, Quentin Hakenewerth, SM, pp. ix, x)
•    Required Book: Joseph H. Lackner, SM Virtues for Mission North American Center for Marianist Studies, Dayton, OH, 2003.

*These courses are also part of the UD VLCFF roster. Go to: for more information.
All required books may be purchased at (with the exception of the Leadership course).

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