The purpose of this Institute is to give a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor,
according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it.
Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, gave a new meaning to the
school by making it accessible to the poor and offering it to all as
a sign of the Kingdom and as a means of salvation. The Christian
school is the preferred field for the activity of us Brothers. But our Institute also explores other possibilities
for teaching and education more adapted to the needs of time and place.
John Baptist de La Salle, as he became aware, by God's grace, of the human and spiritual distress of "the
children of the artisans and the poor" devoted himself to forming schoolmasters totally dedicated to teaching
and to Christian education. He brought these teachers together in a community and subsequently founded with them
our Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
in fidelity to the call of the Spirit and the charism of our Founder, consecrate ourselves to God in order to exercise,
by association, our apostolic ministry of education.
from The Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Article 3)
Our 43rd General Chapter, held in Rome in the Spring of 2000, discussed the mission of our Institute
today in terms of three major categories:
THE EDUCATIONAL SERVICE OF THE POOR
From its foundation, our Institute has defined itself as being called by God to the educational service of the
poor. In the past as now, our Institute has always concerned itself and continues to concern itself with this
service. It is closely tied to social, cultural and economic
contexts, which vary greatly from country to country where our Institute is present.
We are aware that our educational service of the poor cannot presume to solve all the problems of poverty in the
world, but only specifically those which are related to education. As a group
we follow the path which leads to the poor, acknowledging that God calls us to bring creative
and generous responses to the world of the poor today, through fidelity to our founding charism.
Our Institute does not presume that it alone has an effective educational approach and strategy to deal with
present forms of poverty. For this reason we consider it important to maintain relations and collaborate with other
organizations and other agencies (political, social, and religious) that work to resolve urgent problems regarding
the poor at the local, regional, and international level.
"God is so good that having created us, he wishes all of us to come to the knowledge of the truth... and
you are the ones whom God has chosen to help in this work by announcing to these children the Good News and the
truths that are contained in it" (Meditation 193 of St. John Baptist de La Salle).
Some young people have difficulty in accepting the Good News that we announce. Their environment is characterized
by a secularised "global youth culture", which is based upon questionable commercial and economic values,
and which prevents long-term relationships and stable commitments. If true dialogue is to take place, we must know
about these young people, and use language and forms of expression they understand.
While we are
prepared to see what is good in other cultures, we nevertheless seek to introduce the values of the Good
News into the social environment of young people, so that family life is strengthened
and all the socially and economically disadvantaged are liberated
-- the illiterate, the homeless, and those suffering from such new
forms of poverty as lack of affection, hope, and meaning.
Teaching is becoming more difficult every day. Parents face the challenge posed by the great diversity
and complexity of life today. The admirable commitment of numerous men and women, Brothers and Partners, old and
young, working together in the Lasallian mission on behalf of the young and the poor, is
more urgently needed than ever.
We are glad to see that
many women are involved in the Lasallian mission and are playing a significant
part in it.
Good example given by credible, authentic, and coherent witnesses is the best means of sharing the Good News.
This example is most effective when given by a team or by a community of persons, such as a community of Brothers,
Sisters, Catechists or a community of lay persons. Besides the implicit proclamation of the Good News, we also
make this proclamation explicit by such means as public expressions of faith, the catechesis and pastoral care
of young people, and vocation ministry.
For Lasallian establishments to be the living expression of the Good News, they must be places for dialogue in
truth, freedom, and hope. In this way, the Brothers and Lasallian Partners can enter into the culture of the young
to announce the Good News, and feel the need themselves for continual conversion. Among Lasallian institutions,
the school is an ideal place for an inter-religious and ecumenical dialogue which bears witness to the values
of all forms of faith. Lasallians working in universities contribute to our mission, in
a special way, by their commitment to research in the field of the faith development of young people, whatever
their religion, and by the training and accompaniment of those persons entrusted with the difficult task of sharing
the Good News in an increasingly secularized and multi-religious context.
charism is already a source of inspiration in the context of multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. Young
people from all cultures and religious traditions have the right and freedom to benefit from, and to live according
to the Lasallian charism.
For many young people, there is a widening gap between themselves and the institutional Church. The Lasallian school
becomes the place where they experience the message of the Good News in a way that touches their hearts, their
needs, and their concerns.
The sharing of the Good News is more credible and more authentic when the young and their educators are in solidarity
with the poor in the pursuit of justice. In this context young people are able to perceive the vocational call
to commit themselves to the Lasallian mission, including as a Brother of the Christian Schools.
Many experiences around the world suggest that a good formula for faith development is one that integrates religious
education, service, and community. To neglect any one of these three defeats the aim of the whole process.
URGENT EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
Our Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, like many other people and organisations, is clearly
and patently aware of the urgent need that children, young people and adults have for education, at the beginning
of this new century. Given this educational need, we propose to strengthen the commitment of our Institute in the
following four areas where the need is particularly urgent:
The Rights of the Child
The UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child (1989) is an internationally ratified agreement to oppose the exploitation of children
and young people, yet its contents are little known and understood by Brothers and Partners. Cultural norms are
not always consistent with the articles of the Convention, and children often are not sufficiently aware of their
rights under the Convention.
We hope that Brothers and Partners will become more aware of the contents of the Convention. The implementation
of the Convention has to be adapted to local conditions, and our Lasallian educational mission, inspired by Gospel
values, should concentrate on children whose rights are not protected.
We value highly
the educational work of the 68,000 Brothers and Partners who, together and throughout our Institute,
are an educative influence by being present among their pupils and students "from morning till night".
We urge them to continue exercising their ministry with great dynamism, and
we especially encourage those who face great difficulties at the present time, in particular in their attempts to introduce educational
Explicit Proclamation of the Faith
The explicit proclamation of the Good News poses problems in all continents, either because of the multi-religious
context, or because of dechristianisation, secularisation and unbelief.
When young people are forced to listen to the explicit proclamation of the Good News, they tend to respond negatively,
feeling that they are not being respected.
proclamation of the Good News takes place during religion lessons, as part of the school timetable, and during
extracurricular pastoral activities.
There are many resources available throughout our Institute. We are aware of the constant effort that has to be
made to adapt the language of these materials to that of today's young people.
The explicit proclamation of the Good News is undertaken in particular by partners working with the Brothers. Despite
difficulties, their dedication is remarkable, demonstrated by their request for information and for the provision
of catechetical training.
We hope Brothers and Partners renew their commitment to the catechetical mission and their specific formation in
this domain. Since acceptance of faith is a free act, the explicit proclamation of the Good News should be proposed
to all. In this way constructive dialogue can be established.
Given the new forms of communication, Brothers and Partners ought to be creative in proclaiming the Good News.
In this connection, it is important to gain access to the world of young people and their culture,
Gospel values, and to be open-minded regarding other youth movements not organised by Lasallians.
Lasallian Presence in Multi-Religious Societies
The Lasallian Mission is already being pursued in multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. In these societies, Brothers and Partners experience a wide range of reactions to their presence, ranging from intolerance to indifference on the one hand, to respect often, on the other. The work of the Institute in this multi-religious context is not well known in other parts of the Institute.
The presence of the Institute in multi-religious societies calls for inter-faith dialogue on four levels:
a. Life: Brothers, Partners and young people build up friendly relations with others and nurture a fraternity which transcends religious differences.
b. School: A place where the child is the focus of concern, whatever his religious beliefs. It is a place where human and religious education is given, and the educational service of the poor is a priority.
c. Service: Despite their religious differences, Brothers, partners and young people show solidarity in the service of the poor.
d. Institution: There is inter-faith dialogue at national and international gatherings.