St David's Marist Inanda was founded by the Marist Brothers, a teaching order of the Catholic Church. As a Catholic school it is based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The ethos is enlightened by the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Catholic Church as well as the religious philosophy of St Marcellin Champagnat (1789-1840), the French priest who founded the Brothers of Mary to teach boys. Although there are no brothers teaching at the school, its ethos remains faithful to the Marist ideals still incorporated in its name. This ethos embraces boys and families from all faiths, and the school is fortunate to have a diverse group of religious represented within the school body.
St Marcellin insisted that to teach well the teacher had first to love the child and be a mirror of Christ's Gospel for the children. Practically this means being a presence to them while showing them how to be simple of heart, humble and modest in their relationships with others. Following the Founder's concern, all at St David's, boys, teachers and parents, cultivate and live a spirit of "being family".
All the pupils attend Holy Mass once a week celebrated by the chaplain in the school chapel, the Chapel of Mary. Preparation for the Sacraments of Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation is provided, and opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Daily prayers and regular Religious Education are part of the curriculum. The school is open to boys of all faiths, however, and respect for and tolerance of the beliefs of others is encouraged. Marcellin Champagnat had a genuine concern for the poor and this is encouraged as part of the religious ethos of the school.
Joseph Benedict Marcellin Champagnat – The Founder of the Marist Brothers was born on the 20 May 1789, in a hamlet near Marlhes in France. This was the year that the French Revolution began. He was the second youngest child of a family of eleven and had a peaceful childhood, learning the necessary skills to run a farm. He loved nature, animals and his family. Due to the French Revolution he could not attend school in his formative years and when the school was re-opened he experienced the actions of a cruel teacher and refused to go back again. One day of school does not enable one to become an intellectual, but he had a determined aunt who attempted to make him literate, and a mother who had much faith in him. His father was a kind man who was well regarded in their small community.
One day a visiting Priest from Lyons came to enquire whether any of the Champagnat children felt a calling to a vocation, and this prompted Marcellin to leave home and become a Priest. Studying was not easy for him and he had to put great effort in. Through his determination and commitment he was finally ordained on 22 July 1816, at the age of 27.
He spent eight years in the village of La Valla, where he had a difficult task reaching all the people as there was no transport. Three months after his arrival in the Village he was called to the bedside of a dying 17-year old who had never heard of God. This shocked Marcellin to the core. It was after this incident that he decided to get some Brothers together to instruct young, disadvantaged people and teach them about Christianity.
After recruiting a few willing helpers they were able to buy a small house on 2 January 1817. They had a steady stream of young men who wanted to become Brothers. This was the first Marist school to be established, in an impoverished, rural region of France, with simple, loving teachers.