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John Baptist de La Salle (1651 – 1719) De La Salle is the founder of a congregation of laymen whose sole ministry is education. He was proclaimed a saint in the Catholic Church in 1900 and named the patron of teachers in 1950. He was raised in Reims, France, a son of a privileged family who gave up his wealth and status to live with the poor. During his life, he established a network of gratuitous schools for poor boys. His writings have influenced educational practice, school management, and teacher preparation for more than 300 years.
The Lasallian Educational Movement The Lasallian educational network has grown from 23 schools in France at De La Salle’s death to more than 900 schools and 100 other ministries serving special populations in 82 countries throughout the world. These institutions range from pre-school, elementary, middle, and secondary schools; technical institutes; child care agencies; and 64 institutions offering advanced education including schools of medicine and law. Lasallian institutions are responsible for the education of approximately one million students annually. In the United States, there are 98 Lasallian ministries: 51 high schools, 24 elementary or middle schools, 15 centers for youth with special needs, and 7 colleges or universities. More than 80,000 lay partners join the Brothers in their work.
Lasallian Educational Spirituality Lasallian spirituality begins with the life and work of De La Salle and the first Brothers. It has expanded and developed over the life of the Institute. It is a spirituality that “has the school as its setting, the teacher as its focus, and the salvific potential of education as its inspiration. Elements include faith in the presence of God, quality education, concern for the poor and social justice, life through Jesus Christ, and a respect for all persons within an inclusive community.”
La Salle University Founded in 1863 in the Lower Kensington section of Philadelphia, the University is the largest and second oldest Lasallian college or university in the United States. At the time of its opening, it was Philadelphia’s only Catholic college. (Others which preceded it had ceased operations by the time of La Salle’s founding.) The college was initially established to serve the sons of immigrant populations in a religiously divided city, providing them with a quality education that helped them to assimilate into American society. The University has conferred more than 60,000 degrees. La Salle became fully coeducational in 1970 and achieved university status in 1984. It remains fully committed to the city and region with extensive community service and service learning initiatives.
San Miguel Schools These Lasallian schools provide an innovative and accessible education for impoverished children of all faiths. Typically an elementary or middle school, the model for a San Miguel School was first developed in Providence, Rhode Island in 1993. Schools provide extra support in an extended school day and school year. In the words of the movement’s founder, Brother Lawrence Goyette, “the San Miguel School possesses essential qualities that have been and continue to be critical to inspiring, constructing and sustaining a positive, nurturing school model that empower our students, families and communities to achieve beyond their greatest hopes.” There are now 17 such schools in the United States.
Lasallian Volunteers The Lasallian Volunteer Program of the USA/Toronto Region of the De La Salle Christian Brothers provides dedicated, well-trained volunteers for one or more years of service to schools and agencies of the Brothers whose mission is to serve the poor. Acting out of faith, rooted in the Gospel, and sharing community with the Brothers and other Lasallians, the Volunteers empower the poor by personalized service primarily through education. Lasallian Volunteers change the world for the better and discover themselves transformed in the process.