Saint John Baptist de La Salle Forms a Corps of Christian Professional Educators

Gregory Wright, FSC, Ph.D.

Abstract


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In post-1517, in Christian Western Europe, there was a great interest in providing schools that educated poor boys and girls, the children of the working class whose families formed the lowest socioeconomic base of society. Various Protestant churches were engaged in this activity, perhaps because their members were told to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ by reading and interpreting the Bible for themselves. In time, the Church of Rome also showed an interest in creating and conducting schools to instruct its members and to lead them to salvation. Thus, instructing the mass of the faithful in their religion was given a high priority in the Catholic Reform. In France, however, because of the so-called “Wars of Religion” (1561-1598), it was only after the 1600s that this movement began to occupy an important place in the life of the French Church. Many of the previously established charity schools for boys and girls had suffered greatly during this conflict. However, if the seventeenth century began as a time of crisis for these schools, there were also forces working to revive them. One of the main goals of the post-1600 Catholic Reform in France was to find “the means of preserving Christianity in the souls of the common people.”  The Corps of Christian Professional Educators that De La Salle created showed themselves to be a powerful instrument for accomplishing this task.

Keywords


De La Salle; Instructional pedagogy; Lasallian pedagogy;

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