Brothers of Christian Schools
The Lwanga District of Africa
 
 

Respect for Each Student

The first characteristic of a Lasallian school is respect, reverence even, for each student as a unique person. We are called to be brothers and sisters to the young regardless of their religion, economic class, intellectual ability, or personal talents.

They come to us with questions, convictions, perplexities, concerns, hopes, fears, and frustrations.
We must meet them where they are, not where we were when we were their age, not where our past pupils were in the '70s, '80s, and 90's.

We must meet them where they are today. As their elder brothers and sisters, we must respect them, accompany them, and walk with them side by side.

Spirit of Community

The second characteristic flows from the first. A healthy spirit of community must permeate our schools.

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The school must be a living community where young people, coming from different social and family backgrounds, educate one another by mutual understanding and respect, openness of mind in dialogue, acceptance of the uniqueness and limitations of each, growth in the spirit of service, and the practice of justice and fraternal charity.
This "living community" includes not only the students but also all those involved in the school: administrators, teachers, staff personnel, and the Brothers'community.

School of Quality

We Lasallians exercise the mission of the Church when we awaken in young people a serious attitude toward life.

when we help them experience the autonomy of personal thought and learn to use their liberty to overcome their prejudices, preconceived ideas, and social pressures, and to place their intelligence and training at the service of others, when we teach them how to listen, understand, trust, and love; when we instill in them a sense of trustworthiness, justice, brotherhood and sisterhood.

De La Salle insisted that the school be a place where learning really takes place. A school that is authentically Lasallian is, therefore, a school of quality. Whatever its nature and whatever the age and ability of ist pupils, it must be characterized by excellence.

The Lasallian school is a school where young people really learn, where culture, values, and faith are effectively transmitted.

A School that is Christian

The Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools states with no ambiguity that the school which is the "privileged instrument" for accomplishing our mission is a school which is Christian, that is to say, is "a sign of the Kingdom," "a means of salvation," and is "accessible to the poor."

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Given the variety of situations in which our Lasallian mission is exercised today, in what way can our schools or should our schools be Christian?
The principal function of the Institute is the work of evangelization and catechesis. Our tradition has always been to unite the work of evangelization with growth in education and culture.

However, we have to ask ourselves seriously if we are giving sufficient priority to the creation of schools that correspond, as far as possible, to the school described in the Rule.
The Church considers dialogue and proclamation to be two distinct expressions of evangelization - dialogue in terms of relationship and proclamation in terms of proclaiming Jesus Christ.

Both of these should be very evident in our Lasallian schools today.

Solidarity with the Poor

Solidarity with the poor is an essential dimension of our Institute and therefore of our Lasallian mission today.

But who are the poor? Our Rule is clear: "the economically deprived, victims of social justice, delinquents, the marginalized and neglected, those who have learning difficulties, and those who suffer from personal, social, and family problems.

Our schools need to offer young people programs which

  1. Enable them to know and understand the injustices that exist at every level of society,
  2. Learn the social teachings of the Church
  3. Have the opportunity to serve the poor, the sick, the aged, and
  4. Participate in follow-up discussions and evaluations. Solidarity with the poor is not an accident or secondary aspect of a Lasallian school.

It is an essential characteristic.

Teachers Who are Men and Women of Faith and Zeal

To succeed in creating schools that are authentically Lasallian, we must have competent and dedicated teachers, men and women who are committed to working together creatively and constructively.

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The teachers and staffs in our schools Catholic or not must understand the identity of the Lasallian school and agree to promote or at least respect that identity.

Organized Around the Story of De La Salle

Many, if not all of these six characteristics of Lasallian schools are probably characteristics of other religious institutes engaged in the mission of human and Christian education.

What is important is not that we be different but that we be authentic. In other words, we define our identity in terms of who we are, not in terms of who we are not.
Nevertheless, what does indeed differentiate the Lasallian school from other Catholic schools is that it is organized around a remarkable and inspiring story, that of John Baptist de La Salle.