Wednesday, April 06, 2016

St. John Baptist de la Salle: Patron of Teachers




April 7 is the feast of St. John Baptist de la Salle, a French priest, and the and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. He is known for promoting and reforming Christian education, especially among the poor. He is the father of modern education and the patron saint of teachers.

John Baptist de la Salle was born to a wealthy family at Rheims in France in 1651. He was the oldest child of Louis de La Salle and Nicolle de Moet de Brouillet. John had many assets. He was well-educated, intelligent, attractive and genteel. He could have chosen any profession he desired.
However, he was determined to become a priest. Due to his education and noble stature, he could have obtained a high position in the Church, but God had other plans. Following his ordination to the priesthood at the age of 27. he devoted himself to the education of boys and the founding of schools for the poor. He liquidated his personal fortune (about $400,000) and donated it to the poor in the form of bread during the great famine of 1683-1684.

As an educator, he instituted the process of dividing students into grades and established the first teacher's school. He  also started high schools and trade schools.

John brought his companions together as a religious congregation, founding the order known today as Christian Brothers. He suffered from asthma and rheumatism in his later years and died at Rouen in 1719 on Good Friday. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900 and named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950.

Quotes from St. John Baptist de la Salle

"Be driven by the love of God because Jesus Christ died for all, that those who live may live not for themselves but for him, who died and rose for them. Above all, let your charity and zeal show how you love the Church. Your work is for the Church, which is the body of Christ."

"I will often consider myself as an instrument which is of no use except in the hands of the Workman. Hence I must await the orders of Providence before acting and be careful to accomplish them when unknown."



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