OUTLINE OF THE CONGREGATION’S HISTORY
The Institute was founded in 1684 by John Baptist De La Salle who saw the need for a group of lay men who would associate and dedicate their lives to the ministry of human and Christian education, especially of the poor. Each Lasallian teacher would cultivate especially a spirit of faith and a spirit of zeal; faith as a way of seeing and realising his or her own identity and of seeing too, beyond the external to the divine dignity of each student as a child of God. A spirit of zeal would motivate the teacher to give of his or her best in the interests of the human and Christian development of the children.
John Baptist De La Salle was proclaimed Patron of Teachers in 1950 and, today, the same mission inspires and motivates thousand of teachers throughout the five continents. The term “Lasallian” comes from the name of our Founder John Baptist De La Salle, a 17th century French priest and is used to embrace all those who work with us and support us in our mission.
De La Salle’s educational vision and mission emerged from the awareness he had of the distress of very large numbers of neglected young people of his time, the children of “artisans and the poor”, who, without education or supervision, were far removed from earthly or heavenly salvation. The originality of De La Salle is not so much that he was a pioneer of education but that, resolutely and against the odds, he created a stable community of religiously motivated laymen who constructed, throughout France, a network of free schools that would make education available to the poorest. De La Salle saw the school as the ideal context for these wayward young people to gain the skills they would need in order to rise above the hopelessness of their human condition and grow in dignity as children of God.
From the outset, De La Salle came to realise that the school would be successful and stable only to the extent that the teachers were united through a common vision, a shared dedication and a supportive community. “Together and by association”, a familiar phrase in the Lasallian Tradition, reflects a collegial approach to decision making with shared responsibility at all levels.
THE LIVED LASALLIAN CHARISM
Four core values mark the Lasallian schools of today: Lasallian schools are Christian communities where people show care and respect for each other. Lasallian schools are concerned with the needs of the disadvantaged and the immigrant at all levels. The Lasallian schools are built around partnership. The Lasallian schools offer an education of excellence and relevance to all the students.
The lived Lasallian charism is achieved through a unique educational practice: practical attention to the young, the quality of our relationships with them, our interest in those most in difficulty, concern for total formation, taking into account all the dimensions of the person as well as the future of the young person. (The Lasallian Charism – Lasallian Studies No. 13)
Our mission is to procure the human and Christian education for the young especially the poor; to announce the Gospel and to discover in the poor the face of Christ; to be attentive to all forms of exclusion where that possibility might exist. Our mission invites us to have our eyes open before the inequalities created by our society and to be creative in our response to new needs. The Lasallian mission also consists in helping to keep alive the search for solutions to the existential questions of the young we seek to educate; to help them acquire an adequate hierarchy of values that gives meaning to human existence; to promote the development of an interior life, a disinterested love, and a generous commitment. Our mission is to assure that youth integrate within themselves reason and emotion; sentiments and impulses, free will and fragility. (Br Alvaro- Final Reflections: “New Wine in New Wineskins”- International Assembly 2006)