Friday, 30 October 2009

Glancing Back

Thanks to Br Declan for this great and timely reflection.

De La Salle Family Coat of Arms

The work in Christian education which St John Baptist de La Salle began in France continues today in about 80 different countries.

When he died in 1719 aged 68, a group of about 100 followers had been formed. These men had decided to be associated together so that they could devote themselves to the education of youngsters, especially those who were poor. Other decisions made were that they would not become priests and would be known as Brothers to one another and to their students.

To achieve this and to persevere in the work they bound themselves by vow. From then on it was the expectation that the Brothers would
  • be celibate - have no family of their own,
  • be willing to live a communal lifestyle,
  • be content to work without any remuneration and
  • be prepared to go wherever they were asked by superiors.
It was in 1906 almost two hundred years after the death of De La Salle that the first twelve of his Brothers arrived in Australia from France and Ireland.

Over the next 100 years the number of Brothers working in the Australasian region increased to almost 300. Responsibility was to be accepted by them for over 70 schools in 60 or more different towns or suburbs, not only in Australia, but also in Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

The Brothers have also responded to needs in other countries – India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Italy, Pakistan, Nigeria, England, USA, Kenya, Bolivia, South Africa, Vietnam, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Israel, Thailand and now the Sudan.

To measure the time and effort given by the Brothers towards Christian Education, this unit might be used: ONE Bro/yr being the equivalent to one Brother teaching or working for one year. Over the fifty years that Brothers have been involved at Francis Douglas, sons from 67 different families have been members of the community. Two actually came from the same family. Their lands of birth were Ireland, Australia, Holland, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and England. To this New Plymouth College 425 Bro/yrs of service as Christian Educators have been given by the De La Salle District.

As the time of the Brothers’ presence here comes to an end to me it seems appropriate to mention some things spiritual.

When Francis Douglas Memorial College was opened in 1959, the Brothers were justly proud that the Catholic Church had honoured their founder John Baptist de La Salle as a Saint, and two Brothers had been beatified. Nine years earlier De La Salle was proclaimed the Patron of Teachers and Student Teachers.

Now in 2009 there are 13 Brothers who are canonized Saints, 78 Brothers have been beatified and the lives of several others are being carefully studied with similar recognition in view. The countries from which these Brothers have come are, France, Belgium, Ecuador, USA, Spain, Argentina, Reunion, Canada, Italy and Madagascar.

It seems that true holiness can be found in the classroom.

Faith in Jesus Christ, God who became Man, has to be the main motivation for men who choose to adopt the lifestyle lived by Brothers.

If over the past years you feel that you have benefited and perhaps been inspired or encouraged as a pupil, a teacher, a staff member, a parent, a friend, because of your contact with Francis Douglas Memorial College, then you have probably experienced Christianity expressed in a Lasallian Way. It is this Spiritual Heritage that we, the departing Brothers, now entrust to you. A legacy that you can claim and share and from which you may receive courage in the times ahead.

May Jesus live forever in our hearts!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

By that I mean latching on to this or that latest, most innovative idea that some self styled money making guru has put out in the hope it’ll go viral and make them a lot of money off the backs of all the headless chickens who will follow them blindly down a blind alley. Its a shame but a truism nonetheless that people will follow where someone they see as an expert leads. Even if they lead them to certain disaster, which is what most of the gurus tend to do to their flocks.
The trick is to recognize a shadow when you see it!