The Founder of Catholic Education: Saint John Baptist de la Salle


Saint John Baptist de la Salle revolutionized education in France and is considered the founder of Catholic schools. Known as the patron saint of teachers, de la Salle is remembered for establishing the Christian Brothers, a religious institute devoted to education.

Born in Reims, France in 1651, de la Salle came from a wealthy family, yet felt called by God to give up all his material possessions in order to help the poor children of France.

He began his brotherhood by gathering the teachers of Reims together and providing them with proper training, inspiration, and motivation. He even invited the teachers into his home and gave them food and shelter. Saint John Baptist de la Salle is remembered for his impact on teacher formation and his deeply held belief that all were worthy of education.

Canonized in 1900, Saint John Baptist de la Salle and his educational mission lives on in 1,000 institutions in over 80 countries. The Lasallian family continues to grow and is now comprised of about 5,000 brothers and 84,000 lay people who are dedicated to the five Lasallian core principles which are: inclusive community, concern for the poor and social justice, faith in the presence of God, quality education, and respect for all persons.

Attending a Lasallian institution as a Saint Mary’s student, I have the opportunity to be influenced by Saint John Baptist de la Salle’s philosophy and also the chance to bring his emphasis on education and service to my life beyond college. – Hope Blain


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