Receiving the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Francis recalls the ideals that moved St. John the Baptist de La Salle. "His vision of the school led him to develop ever more clearly the persuasion that education is a right for everyone, including the poor."
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Education "inspired by Christianity" to offer hope and promote "the least and the rejected". St. John the Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, was the objective that Pope Francis proposed today to 300 lay Lasallian collaborators, received 300 years after the founder's death.
To the representatives of 3500 religious, the 90 thousand lay educators and the one million students present in 83 countries, Francis first of all affirmed that the example and testimony of the founder "confirm the unique relevance of his message for the Christian community of today, illuminating the path to follow. He was a brilliant and creative innovator in the vision of the school, in the conception of the teacher, in teaching methods. His vision of the school led him to develop ever more clearly the persuasion that education is a right for everyone, including the poor. The meant he did not hesitate to give up life as a canon and his rich family legacy, to devote himself entirely to the education of the lower social class. He gave life to a community of only laity to carry out his ideal, convinced that the Church cannot remain alien to the social contradictions of the times with which it is called to confront itself. It was this conviction that led him to establish an original experience of consecrated life: the presence of religious educators who, without being priests, interpreted the role of 'lay monks' in a new way, totally immersing themselves in the reality of their time and thus contributing to the progress of civil society ”.
"The daily contact with the world of the school matured in him the awareness of identifying a new conception of the teacher". Convinced that "teaching cannot be just a job, but is a mission", "he therefore surrounded himself with people suited to the popular school, inspired by Christianity, with aptitude and natural qualities for education. He devoted all his energy to their formation, becoming himself an example and model for them, who were called to exercise a service that was ecclesial and at the same time social, and striving hard to promote what he called the "dignity of the teacher".
Attentive to the demands of his time "John Battista de La Salle embarked on daring reforms of teaching methods", replacing the Latin language with French, as Latin which was normally used in teaching, "divided pupils into homogeneous learning groups in view of a more effective work; instituted seminars for country teachers, that is for young people who wanted to become teachers without joining any religious institution, founded Sunday schools for adults and two pensioners, one for young delinquents and the other for the rehabilitation of prisoners. He dreamed of a school open to all, so he did not hesitate to face extreme educational needs, introducing a method of rehabilitation through school and work. In these formative realities he started a corrective pedagogy which, in contrast to the use of the times, brought study and work among the young people in prison, with the study of trades, instead of the mere cell or lashes ".
"Dear spiritual children of John Battista de La Salle, I urge you to deepen and imitate his passion for the least and the rejected. In the wake of his apostolic witness, you are protagonists of a "culture of resurrection", especially in those existential contexts where the culture of death prevails. Never tire of looking for those who are in the modern ‘sepulchres’ of loss, degradation, discomfort and poverty, to offer new life and hope. The impetus for the educational mission, which made your Founder a teacher and witness for so many of his contemporaries, and his teaching, can still today feed your projects and your action ".