This is the day when many Lasallian institutions celebrate the life and heritage of St. John Baptist de La Salle is celebrated. It was on May 15, 1950, that De La Salle was promulgated as the Special Patron of All Teacher of Youth by the Catholic Church. And therefore that May 15th celebrated him in Lasallian schools and educational ministries.
1) To learn more about his life and charism, go the www.dlsfootsteps.org for a virtual tour.
3) Various kinds of artwork are collected on this Google Photos album.
4) There is a movie about De La Salle, with Mel Ferrer as the primary actor.
5) There is also a cartoon about De La Salle, produced in 2012 by the College of Saint Benilde in the Philippines. I don’t know where copies might be obtained, but the link takes you to a trailer for the cartoon.
6) The Motherhouse in Rome has a number of resources on its Biography page about De La Salle.
Born in Reims, France, into an influential family on April 30, 1651, John Baptist de La Salle decided early on to become a priest. His is parents died when he was 20 and De La Salle took care of his six younger brothers and sisters while completing his studies. He was ordained a priest in 1678. Two years later he received a doctorate in theology.
Meanwhile, he slowly became involved with a group of rough and barely literate young men who wanted to run parish schools for poor boys. Almost by accident, the young De La Salle gradually took leadership of this small group of lay teachers – he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his Church position, gave away his wealth, and formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or De La Salle Christian Brothers.
God, he said, led him “in an imperceptible way and over a long period of time so that one commitment led to another in a way that I did not foresee in the beginning.” Church authorities resisted this new form of lay religious life, and the educational establishment resented the Brothers’ innovative methods and their insistence on educating people regardless of their ability to pay.
In forty years, De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of schools throughout France that featured teaching in French (instead of Latin), students grouped according to ability, integration of religious instruction with secular subjects, and well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission. De La Salle also pioneered programs for training lay teachers, Sunday classes for working young men, and one of the first institutions in France for delinquent youth.
With 23 communities and 100 Brothers, De La Salle died near Rouen on Good Friday, April 7, 1719. Today, about 3,800 Brothers and 92,000 Lasallian educators educate 1,016,000 students in 1,080 educational institutions in 77 countries. Within the United States, these include 6 colleges and universities, 53 high schools, 11 elementary and middle schools, 6 child care facilities, 5 group homes, 3 retreat centers, and 8 alternative educational programs. (www.lasalle.org)
A longer biography available is accessible in the first part of the www.dlsfootsteps.org guidebook PDF.