Published October 19, 2017
ATLANTA—Marist School in Atlanta has announced that Marist Father John Harhager, who has served as the school’s president for the past 10 years, has been elected vicar general of the Society of Mary, the religious congregation of priests and brothers that has owned and operated the school since 1901.
In accepting his new role, which began immediately upon his election Oct. 10 at a general chapter meeting in Rome, Italy, where the society is headquartered, Father Harhager stepped down as president of Marist School.
Adhering to the succession plan put in place a number of years ago, the Society of Mary has appointed Father William Rowland, SM, acting president until the Marist Provincial and the Marist School Board of Trustees can appoint the new president. Father Rowland has held the roles of special assistant to the president at Marist School for the last eight years and alumni chaplain.
Every eight years, the Society of Mary holds a general chapter meeting in Italy attended by representatives from the society’s provinces and mission areas around the world. The meetings set the direction for the society during the next eight years, make changes to the society’s rule of life, and elect the international leadership, which includes a superior general and his general council, made up of a vicar general and three assistants. It was at the 2017 general chapter meeting that Father Harhager was elected vicar general.
“It is with sadness that I accepted the new position, knowing that I would have to leave Marist School,” said Father Harhager. “Without a doubt, Marist School has been one of my most gratifying assignments. It has been 10 years of deeply rewarding ministry and an enriching experience to work with so many people who share a common passion for Marist education.”
William G. Roche, chairman of Marist School’s Board of Trustees and a 1976 graduate, commented, “Father Harhager will be greatly missed at Marist School. His focused leadership and dedication to the Marist mission have been invaluable to the school these past 10 years. I look forward to working with Father Rowland in his role as acting president; he has worked closely with Father Harhager and is deeply committed to the mission of Marist education.”
Under Father Harhager’s leadership, Marist School successfully completed the largest capital campaign in Marist School’s history. Raising $37.2 million, the campaign allowed Marist to complete the first phase of its comprehensive campus master plan, dramatically transforming the campus and enhancing the educational experience of current and future students.
The school has an enrollment of approximately 1,100 students in seventh to 12th grades.
Father Harhager was actively involved in the planning for all campus renovation and new construction projects, always putting focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. A faithful attendee at student athletic and extracurricular events, Father Harhager also approved the opening of the Marist Early Learning Center for faculty and staff children.
Father Harhager was instrumental in identifying six core Marist themes for the school to focus on in rotation during each school year. He greatly encouraged the entire Marist community—faculty, staff, parents, students, alumni and grandparents—to participate in the Marist mission and spirituality through the formation of the Marist Way, which develops programs to help lay and religious people embrace a life of prayer, learning, service, fellowship and vocations in the spirit of the Society of Mary.