St. John Baptist de la Salle
The French Priest was born to an upper-class family on the 30th ofApril 1651 and died on the 7th of April 1719. Not only was he a Frenchpriest but he was also an educational reformer who dedicated most of hislife towards the education of the underprivileged. He is considered thefounder of the first Catholic schools. He is the patron saint forteachers of youth.
Road to Priesthood
La Selle was offered to God by his parents at the age of 11 and he grewup devoted to religion. At the age of sixteen, he was named canon of theRheims Cathedral. He later went on to join the seminary of Saint-Sulpicein Paris on the 18th of October in 1670.
However, due to the death of his parents with the mother passing on in1671 and his father the following year, he had to leave the seminary sothat he can assume the role of a family head at the age of 21.Fortunately, he was able to complete his theological studies on the9th of April in 1678 at the age of 26.
He helped the Sisters of the Child Jesus in taking care of the sick andeducating girls from poor backgrounds and later went on to be theirChaplain and confessor. After his work in the school system, he begannew religious systems the first one being the Institute of the Brothersof the Christian Schools also known as the De La Selle Brothers.
Teacher of the Youth
La Selle’s responsibility in the education of the youth began when hewas responsible for the education of his six siblings after the death ofhis parents. It was further cultivated when he worked with the Sistersof the Child Jesus as he was also helping in the education of girls frompoor backgrounds.
In the year 1679, he helped Adrian Nyel open a school and shortlyafterwards they also got someone who also wanted to sponsor them inopening another school for the poor and that is how it became his life’swork.
All his work was mostly motivated by his plight for the poor and hestrongly believed that education was the way to bring hope andopportunities to the poor. He strongly dedicated his life to advance theeducation of the poor children in Reims and he took steps to provideleadership and training to the struggling teachers.
The first training for the teachers was in 1680 when he invited them formeals at his home taking that opportunity to teach them table mannersand instruct them in their work. He went further to invite the teachersto live with him something that did not sit well with his relatives asthis crossed the social classes. All this resulted in scandals and LaSelle ended up losing his family home resulting in him having to rentthe house in which he ended up staying with a handful of the teachers.
La Selle even resigned as Canon so that he can fully dedicate his lifetowards establishing schools and training teachers. Another display forhis heart for the poor was when he sold his inheritance and sent themoney to the province of Champagne where a famine was causing hardships.
He went on to be the founder of the De La Selle brothers which was aRoman Catholic teaching religious institute and it did not include anypriests. In 1658 he became the founder of the first school that trainedteachers, in Rheim, France.
Death and Legacy
- He was also proclaimed a saint on May 15 1950 and that was after
he was inserted in the General Roman Calender in 1904 to be celebrated
on the 15th of May. He is known as a Patron Saint of all teachers of
the Youth. His feast day was moved to April 7 in 1969.
5 Interesting Facts About St. John Baptist de la Salle
- Originally had no intention of working with the youth until he met
Monsieur Adrien Nyel.
- Sold his inheritance and gave away the money.
- His mother was related to Claude Moet who is the founder of Moet
- He was surprised by his achievements as he did not believe he
could achieve much.
- His father was high in the legal profession.
Prayer to St. John Baptist de la Salle
Father, You chose Saint John Baptist de la Salleto give young people a Christian education.Give your Church teachers who will devote themselvesto helping your children grow as Christian men and women.Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,who lives and reigns with youin the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever.Amen.