St. John Baptist de la Salle is an important figure in the history of Catholic education. De la Salle is the patron saint of teachers proclaimed by Pope Pius the XII in 1950. He is recognized for his work with the poor and his work in the classroom setting as a supporter of classroom education instead of individual instruction.
De la Salle was born on April 29, 1651 in Reims; he was the oldest child in his family and was obligated to perform the duties of setting the example for his younger siblings and being a model citizen. He grew up in a home that was dedicated to the strengthening of moral and intellectual fiber. Louis de la Salle and Nicolle de Moet de Brouillet, the parents of de la Salle and sent his to school at a young age where he excelled. After years of school de la Salle went to achieve a higher level of education proclaiming a degree as a Master of the Arts. He was watched very closely by the higher members governing the University of Reims, and was looked at as a very intellectual and promising young man. It was thought that young de la Salle would follow in the footsteps of his family’s tradition and achieve a career in law, but when approached by the idea de la Salle said that he had received a calling to work for the church and become a priest.
At the age of nineteen, after his studies were completed in the arts and philosophy, de la Salle left to enter the seminary of Saint-Sulpice. While at Saint-Sulpice he was noticed by the faculty for his rapid progression in the area of virtue. At a young age de la Salle was thought to be a very promising student. Tragedy struck the young student when his mother died and then father past away less than a year later. De la Salle being the oldest son was now in charge of the household, which forced him to leave Saint-Sulpice. Along with having the duties of managing the family de la Salle also had the obligation of educating his younger siblings. The mental strain played a significant role in his demeanor and lifestyle, a time when he was said to be in great reflection and prayer. In his time of need de la Salle was aided by the canon of Reims, Nicolas Roland and was helped to being ordained sub deacon at Cambrai on June 2, 1672, continuing his work for the church.
De la Salle made progress in his work of ministry and was ordained a deacon. After being ordained a deacon he wished to work on his parish life but was denied his wish by the Archbishop of Reims. De la Salle went back to his job as a deacon and continued his work until he ordained a priest on April 9, 1678 by the Archbishop of Reims. De la Salle was a man of great piety in the church; many people looked to him for guidance and spiritual help. During his time as a priest de la Salle finished his school work and obtained his doctorate in theology, and found his calling as an educator.
By the biding of de la Salle’s good friends and mentor in his time of need, Nicolas Roland, de la Salle took over the Congregation of the Sisters of the Child Jesus. In the school de la Salle found himself living amongst the poverty stricken teachers and it was there that he found his calling as an educator. He jumped from school to school and even helped in the establishment of free schools for those who could not afford an education. Working with those in poverty de la Salle opened many free schools in the city of Reims and dedicated himself to the teachers of Reims. De la Salle housed the teachers when they needed it and also paid for some of the housing costs, he educated them in ways of time management and classroom management and became a mentor for the teacher’s school them in ways in which education could be more beneficial for the students. De la Salle resigned from his canonry and started to distribute his fortune to the poor who were in need and to those in his schools were in need. De la Salle proved that in his mission he would do whatever was necessary.
De la Salle was the...
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