De La Salle Holy Cross College
The De La Salle Brothers
The De La Salle Brothers
The De La Salle Brothers were founded by John Baptist de La Salle in 1680 in Rheims, France, in answer to the serious need for Christian education of the children of the poor and working-class families. These children had nowhere to turn to for knowledge, training in a trade, or a Christian upbringing. John Baptist De La Salle was convinced that Christian Schools were the solution. 17th Century France was a very different place to what the so-called free world is today. Only the privileged were educated and in a curriculum that suited the privileged.
De La Salle was a priest who came from an upper class family connected with the nobility – at a time when class distinction was everything. At the age of 29 he set about changing the structures around him. Moved by the plight of the poor he determined to put his own talents, resources and advanced education at the service of the street children of Rheims. He founded his first school which was open and free to all.
He knew that only total commitment would achieve what he wanted to do. To be more effective, he abandoned his family home, renounced his wealth and his position as Canon of the Rheims Cathedral and went to live with the small group of lay teachers who worked in the schools - and so formed the community that became known as the De La Salle Brothers. His endeavours met with opposition from the ecclesiastical authorities who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life – “lay religious” Brothers, not clerics.
From the beginning, De La Salle insisted that the Brothers, (as they began to call themselves), would cultivate two essential spirits: a spirit of faith in God’s continuing presence and support, and a spirit of zeal for the care and education of the young people entrusted to them. The educational establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on free schools for all - regardless of whether students could afford to pay or not.
John Baptist De La Salle created an entirely new educational system. Many of the methods he designed are still in use today, though few people realise that they originated with this French priest living in the last part of the 17th century. De La Salle and his Brothers succeeded in creating a network of quality schools throughout France which introduced the simultaneous classroom teaching method; featured instructions in the vernacular, rather than Latin; grouped students according to ability and achievement; integrated religious instruction with secular subjects; supplied well-prepared teachers with a sense of vocation and mission and encouraged the involvement of parents. In addition De La Salle pioneered programmes for training lay teachers, Sunday courses for young working men and one of the first institutions in France for the care of delinquents.
John Baptist De La Salle and his Brothers revolutionised education by making it available to the poorest French children. It was on their account and because of them that the youth of France were able to rise out of the misery to which society had condemned them.
The work begun by John Baptist De La Salle spread all over the world and is continued today by the Brothers and their Associates who are guided by his spiritual ideas in their educational work aimed at building the world of the future.
John Baptist De La Salle died on 7th April 1719. He was canonised on 24th May 1900 and proclaimed Patron Saint of Teachers on 15th May 1950.
Today there are 5,525 Brothers and 80,000 lay colleagues worldwide, ministering to over 900,000 young people in 1,082 educational centres in 83 countries on six continents.
“Live Jesus in our Hearts”
2019 - Tercentenary of the death of St John Baptist De La Salle
Tercentenary of the death of Saint John Baptist De La Salle
7 April 2019 marked the Tercentenary of the death of a visionary, a leader, a game-changer – John Baptist De La Salle. To celebrate the life and work of this extraordinary man, activities will be held in Lasallian institutions throughout the world during 2019. In Johannesburg, the celebrations were launched on Thursday 6 December 2018 at the year-end Mass and continue until Friday 6 December 2019. The theme for this international event is: One Heart, One Commitment, One Life.
To mark the Jubilee year a programme was planned that included liturgies, festivities, cultural and sporting activities that promote the charism of Saint John Baptist De La Salle and encourage the spirit of association between Lasallians. We also interacted with La Salle College in Discovery and Tsholofelo Community in Phokeng.
15 May was the feast day of Saint John Baptist De La Salle. This day was the main focus for our celebrations in 2019. Archbishop Buti Thlagale, the Archbishop of Johannesburg, accepted the invitation to celebrate the Jubilee Mass. Mass was said on the High School rugby field at 9.00 am followed by a day of celebratory activities for the children. The learners and staff of La Salle College joined us, as did Little Explorers Pre-primary and representatives from Tsholofelo.
2019 has also been declared the Year of Lasallian vocations, a time to discern whether we are following in the footsteps of our founder, John Baptist De La Salle, who opened schools that offered a preferential option for the poor. We will follow his example with an emphasis on our outreach projects in 2019. The first of these was the Lentin Challenge. This year our Lentin Challenge realized 2305 tins of food which was collected by Br Meluso to be made into food parcels for the people of Phokeng, where the Brothers at Tsholofelo Community run self-help programmes in the local squatter camp.
'Let’s really make a difference by showing that we have the heart to commit to changing lives in 2019.’ - Mrs Mary Hyam - Director of Religious Education and Formation - De La Salle Holy Cross College.
WATCH: Tercentenary video - 15 May