Students Celebrate the Life and Death of Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle
Students and faculty are in the midst of celebrating the 300th anniversary of the death of John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. 2019 was declared by Pope Francis to be a Jubilee Year honoring the saint who passed away on (Good Friday) April 7, 1719.
On Friday, April 5th the school was presented with a '1st Class relic' of the saint and held a special prayer reception to honor the occasion. (A 1st Class relic is a small part of the saint's body.). The relic is from the Generalate in Rome - the main offices and headquarters of the Christian Brothers. It is currently traveling from Lasallian school to Lasallian school and is being displayed in the school's chapel during the week of April 8 through the 12th. (The relic was delivered to Montini Catholic by a representative of De La Salle High School.)
"As we celebrate the 300th anniversary of his death, let us pray to St. John Baptist de la Salle to intercede for us that our youth will be instruments in building and promoting a culture of life and love," said Campus Minister Michael Blanchette during the prayer service held upon the acceptance of the relic.
On Sunday, April 7th, the Christian world celebrated the Feast Day of St. John Baptist de la Salle who was proclaimed as Patron Saint of Teachers of Youth by Pope Pius XII 67 years ago. De La Salle was the founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools more popularly known as the La Salle Brothers.
St. La Salle opened his first school for the poor in Reims, France in 1679; and the congregation was finally approved by Pope Benedict X11 in 1725. De La Salle was not only a saint; but, he was also an educational pioneer and the father of the modern classroom education.
A special Jubilee Mass was held on Monday, April 8th at Montini with Celebrant, Father Paul Novak, OSM (President of De La Salle Institute, Chicago). Prior to the Mass, a unique procession of flags took place (also commemorating the beginning of the school's Cultural Awareness Week). Students carried flags representing France (the birthplace of De La Salle and the Brothers of the Christian Schools) and all of the countries where the Christian Brothers first founded their schools. "The Brothers spread throughout the world to be disciples of Jesus and to teach the youth, especially the poor, " explained Mr. Blanchette.
"Consider how many times we utter the name of our founder - St. John Baptist de La Salle," said Principal Kevin Beirne while addressing the student body after the Mass. "Two-hundred and ten times a day, more than 36,000 times a year! In the 45 or so Lasallian high schools in the United states - more than 1,620,000 times each year!" He went on. "I'm willing to bet that if John Baptiste de La Salle were here with us this morning he'd tell us he never set out to accomplish what he accomplished. In fact, he once discussed in one of his reflections, that had he known each of the steps in his life he would ultimately need to take ahead of time, he'd have never had the courage to take them."
"Each time he was presented with a decision, a course to choose, a path to traverse, an option, he answered the call with a resounding - YES," said Mr. Beirne. "You can set out to say YES - YES to right and just causes, even though doing so may be more difficult, YES to taking a more treacherous path when it might lead to positive change, YES to helping others even when it means sacrifice, YES to God's calling for you even though others may mock and ridicule you for living your faith. It is in doing these things - saying YES - that you will be your best self and that is truly the most powerful testament you can provide to St. John Baptiste De La Salle."
Br. Veselsky, FSC with the relic of St. John Baptist de La Salle