- Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
For a different Roman Catholic order commonly known as "Christian Brothers", see Congregation of Christian Brothers.
The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (also known as the Christian Brothers, the Lasallian Brothers, the French Christian Brothers, or the De La Salle Brothers; French: Frères des écoles chrétiennes; Latin: Fratres Scholarum Christianarum) is a Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and now based in Rome. Brothers use the post-nominal abbreviation FSC.
He trained and organized a group of men to live in community and conduct the schools. He is credited with establishing a regimen of education which emphasised the good of the student, banning corporal punishment from their institutions. The founding of the Institute is generally dated to 1680. It was the first religious community of men in the Roman Catholic Church not to include clergy, the Institute being composed solely of lay brothers. At one point, Jean-Baptiste de La Salle had one brother, Henri L'Heureux, study for the priesthood, with the intention of having him take over the supervision of the Institute. However, Br. Henri soon became ill and died unexpectedly the night prior to his ordination. Jean-Baptiste took this as a sign from God that the order should remain as a society of lay brothers. He determined that his Brothers would be older brothers to those they taught and brothers to one another.
The Institute underwent two periods of upheaval in France. The first occurred during the French Revolution when schools were closed and some Brothers lost their lives. By 1805 Napoleon Bonaparte restored the Institute in France, beginning a period of rapid growth for the Brothers. By 1810, the Institute had 160 Brothers working in France and Italy; 90 years later by the end of the century, the Institute had 14,631 Brothers working in 35 countries.
The second period of upheaval began in 1904 when France began to enact a series of "secularisation laws". These laws essentially expelled most Catholic religious groups from France and forced the closing of schools. Brothers left France to continue work overseas, notably in Belgium, Malta, Canada, and Spain as well as Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, North Africa, Australia, Philippines and Singapore.
Since 1937 its world headquarters has been in Rome. The community is headed by a Superior General with the assistance of a General Council. As of 2000, the Superior General is Brother Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria, FSC, native of Costa Rica.
The British province of the Institute, headquartered in Oxford, is a registered charity under English law.
Founder, his Rule and the Mission of the Institute
The Founder is St. John Baptist de La Salle, a French priest who lived in the 17th century. He came from a wealthy family. He became involved with in teaching poor children in parish charity schools, and focused his life on this. He was canonized as a saint on May 15, 1900. In 1950, Pope Pius XII declared him to be the Special Patron of All Teachers of Youth in the Catholic Church.
He emphasized the virtue of faith for the brothers: "The spirit of this Institute is first, a spirit of faith, which should induce those who compose it not to look upon anything but with the eyes of faith, not to do anything but in view of God, and to attribute all to God." (Rule 1718). He also said that “To touch the hearts of your students and to inspire them with the Christian spirit is the greatest miracle you could perform, and the one that God asks of you, since this is the purpose of your work.”
The Brothers Rule states that the Mission of the Institute is “to provide a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry entrusted to them by the church.”
EducationMain article: Lasallian educational institutions
The Institute now conducts educational work in 80 different countries, in both developed and developing nations, with more than 800,000 students enrolled in its educational works.
From 1882 until 1989, a non-profit arm of the order ran a winery in the Napa Valley at Greystone Cellars near St. Helena, California. Most famous for Christian Brothers Brandy, the operation and rights to the name were sold to Heublein, Inc. in 1989.
In 1981 the Institute started an ethical or socially responsible investment service for Catholic organisations. The service attempts to use its shareholdings to influence the way the companies in which it has invested operate. Lasallian schools and institutions usually incorporate the Signum Fidei as a mark of their heritage.
- De La Salle Christian Brothers
- De La Salle Christian Brothers, Province of Great Britain
- Brief history of the Lasallian Institute
- Catholic Encyclopedia article
- Works by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools at Project Gutenberg
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