De La Salle’s Tercentenary
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - April 11, 2019 - 12:00am

This year 2019 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of St. John Baptist de la Salle, Patron Saint of Teachers and founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, known in the Philippines as De La Salle Brothers. This year has also been designated as a Jubilee year and  the Year of La Sallian Vocations. 

Pope Leo XIII canonized De La Salle on May 24, 1900. He was acknowledged as the founder of the first Catholic schools. Because of his life and inspirational writings Pope Pius XII proclaimed him patron saint of teachers on May 15, 1950. In the 1969 revision of the Church calendar, Pope Paul VI moved his feast day to April 7, the day of his death, his dies natalis.

For the La Sallian family, throughout this year and around the world, events and celebrations will be held honouring their common Lasallian mission of faith, service and community through the theme  for this tercentenary celebration – One Heart, One Commitment, One Life.

It is a year not only to honor St. John Baptist de la Salle’s impact and mission, but also to marvel in the impact and vastness of the Lasallian network, which reaches around one million students across 80 countries worldwide. The accompanying theme is also Lasallian Without Borders as a reminder that regardless of  social class, race, backgrounds, Lasallians are one; and, when they work together for the common good they become pilgrims, a testament to a common heritage that they can change the world. Last year, Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, Brother Superior wrote a letter to the members of the Lasallian family all over the world to explain this year’s celebration. Here is his letter:

 “Dear Brothers, Partners, Students and all members of the Lasallian family,

I am very pleased to inform you that the Holy See has declared 2019 a Jubilee Year in honor of the 300th anniversary of the death of Saint John Baptist De La Salle. ( The Jubilee Year offers the opportunity to receive the grace of a plenary indulgence through the practice of works of charity, pilgrimage, prayer, and participation in the liturgy and the sacrament of reconciliation.)

The Jubilee Year will begin on 17 November 2018, when we recall the dedication of the sanctuary of Saint John Baptist de la Salle at the Generalate in Rome. The Jubilee year will conclude on 31 December 2019, the end of the Tercentenary Year and Year of Lasallian vocations.

A Jubilee Year offers the opportunity to express our faith through concrete actions in favor of those most in need. I invite all of you to celebrate the jubilee through practical acts of kindness and service to young people yearning for mercy and compassion. Traditionally a Jubilee year is also an occasion for pilgrimage. The goal of a pilgrimage is to visit places imbued with spiritual significance and the experience of God’s presence. I encourage each of you to become a pilgrim during the Jubilee Year. Let your pilgrimage take you ‘beyond borders’ to places that inspire you with a sense of God’s presence and to poor and vulnerable people who are occasions to encounter Jesus Christ.

Pope Francis reminds us that: ‘Our existence is a pilgrimage, a journey. Even those who are inspired by simply human hope, perceive the allure of the horizon, which urges them to explore worlds they do not yet know. Our spirit is a migrant spirit. We do not become mature men and women if we do not perceive the allure of the horizon that boundary between earth and sky which demands to be reached by a people that walks.’

Let us joyfully celebrate the Jubilee year as an expression of our commitment to live the Gospel and the Lasallian Mission united as Lasallians with one heart, one commitment, one life.” 

This year is also the Year of Lasallian Vocations. The Christian Brothers was the first religious order founded without any priests. The organization was composed solely of religious brothers who dedicated their lives to education. From the book celebrating the 100th year of the La Salle Brothers in the Philippines, this dedication was mentioned in one chapter:

“But across the decades, and over many experiences and experiments , the Brothers have come to realize that their core competency lies in their original mission – teaching — to which they have inevitably returned, enlightened and strengthened by their exposure further afield. Br. Victor Franco FSC recalls the many discussions the Brothers had on this subject, and the late Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC’s sage observation, that given their particular mission, the Brothers performed best when they stayed close to teaching. So important has teaching been to the Brothers that, remarkably for a religious congregation , two of them – Br. Andrew Gonzalez  and Br. Armin Luistro – have served as the Philippine government’s Secretary of Education. 

Br. Gus Boquer FSC makes it clear that the Brothers see education as the means to change people and society for the better: “To be true to our calling, we have to be catalysts for social transformation. And if we want to be true to that , we have to make sure that the charism of our founder in building the institution is alive.”

Today, in the Philippines the La Salle Brothers own or manage educational institutions all over the country servicing all social classes. They range from Bahay Pag Asa in Bacolod, which educates children in conflict who would normally be in jail, to De La Salle University-Manila, one of only two universities in Philippines included in the Times Higher Education ranking of world class universities. 

St. John Baptist De La Salle , pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever. 

Creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout on April 13, 27 (1:30 pm-3pm; stand-alone sessions) at Fully Booked BGC.  For details and registration,  email writethingsph@gmail.com.

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Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

DE LA SALLE’S TERCENTENARY
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