De La Salle Brothers

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Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
Frères des écoles chrétiennes
Signum Fidei.jpg
Signum Fidei (Latin, Sign of Faith)
John baptist de la salle 1.jpg
Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, (1651–1719), Founder
Abbreviation FSC
Motto Latin: Signum fidei, lit. 'Sign of faith'[1]
Formation 1725; 293 years ago (1725)
Founder Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle
Founded at Rheims, France
Type Lay Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)
Headquarters Via Aurelia 476, 00165 Roma, Italy
Services Education
Membership (2016)
3,915 members
Secretary General
Br. Antxon Andueza FSC
Br. Robert Irvin Schieler, F.S.C.
Vicari General
Br. Jorge Gallardo de Alba FSC

The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools[2] (also known as the Christian Brothers, the Lasallian Brothers,[3] the French Christian Brothers, or the De La Salle Brothers; French: Frères des écoles chrétiennes; Latin: Fratres Scholarum Christianarum) is a Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1651–1719), and now based in Rome. The Brothers use the post-nominal abbreviation FSC to denote their membership of the order, and the honorific title Brother, abbreviated Br.. The Lasallian Christian Brothers are not the same order as the Irish Christian Brothers.

There are 560 Lasallian educational institutions around the world which, assisted by more than 73,000 lay colleagues, teach over 900,000 students in over 82 countries, from impoverished nations such as Nigeria to post-secondary institutions such as Bethlehem University, Manhattan College, and the La Salle Universities in Philadelphia.[4] The central administration of the Brothers operates out of the Generalate in Rome and is made up of the Superior General and his councillors. A number of Lasallian institutions have been accused of, and have admitted and apologised for, longstanding and serious physical and sexual abuse against their charges.


Historical numbers
Year Pop. ±%
1719 274 —    
1792 920 +235.8%
1819 2,317 +151.8%
1874 10,235 +341.7%
1900 14,000 +36.8%
2009 5,000 −64.3%

The order was founded by Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle,[when?] a French priest from a wealthy family.[2] In March, 1679, La Salle met Adrian Nyel in a chance encounter at the Convent of the Sisters of the Infant Jesus. Nyel asked for De La Salle's help in opening free schools for the poor boys in Reims. A novitiate and normal school were established in Paris in 1694.[5] La Salle spent his life teaching poor children in parish charity schools, and was canonized as a saint on 15 May 1900. In 1950 Pope Pius XII declared him to be the "Special Patron of All Teachers of Youth in the Catholic Church".

The order, approved by Pope Benedict XIII in 1725,[6] rapidly spread over France. It was dissolved by a decree of the National Assembly set up after the French revolution in February 1790, but recalled by Napoleon I in 1804 and formally recognized by the French government in 1808. Since then its members penetrated into nearly every country of Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australia.[7]

The order

As religious, members take the three usual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.[6] The Institutes headquarters is in Rome, Italy. The order has five global regions: North America (Région Lasallienne de l’Amérique du Nord, RELAN), Asia/Oceania (Pacific-Asia Regional Conference, PARC), Europe/Mediterranean (Région Lasallienne Européenne-Méditerranéenne, RELEM), Africa (Région Lasallienne Africano-Malgache, RELAF), and Latin America (Region Latinoamericana Lasallista, RELAL).[8]

During the International Year of Literacy/Schooling (1990), UNESCO awarded the NOMA prize to Lasallian Institutions.

The order says that its key principles are faith, proclamation of the gospel, respect for all people, quality education, concern for the poor and social justice.[9]

In 2017 the Institute had 3,800 brothers, 75% fewer than in 1965. The decline is due partly to many brothers reaching retirement age, and the small number of new recruits. In the same period the number of students in Lasallian schools increased from about 700,000 to over a million.[10]



La Salle initiated a number of innovations in teaching. He recommended dividing up of the children into distinct classes according to their attainments. He also taught pupils to read the vernacular language.[6]

In accordance with their mission statement "to provide a human and Christian education ... especially [to] the poor" the Brothers' principal activity is education, especially of the poor. As of 2017 the Institute conducted educational work in 82 different countries, in both developed and developing nations, with more than 1,000,000 students enrolled in its educational works.[11] There are 92,000 lay men and women who are Lasallian Partners in their institutions.


  • The Guadalupana De La Salle Sisters were founded by Br. Juan Fromental Cayroche in the Archdiocese of Mexico. They currently teach in ten countries. The motherhouse is in Mexico City.[12]
  • The Congregation of the Lasallian Sisters was founded in 1966 by the Brothers of the Christian School in Vietnam to take care of the needs of poor children abandoned because of the civil war there. The office is in Bangkok.[13]
  • Lasallian Volunteers are lay people who volunteer for one or two years to engage in teaching and other Lasallian activities.[14] They receive room and board and a living stipend.[15]

Other activities

Investment services

In 1981, the Institute started Christian Brothers Investment Services, a "socially responsible investing service" exclusively for Catholic organisations, and that it "encourage[s] companies to improve policies and practices through active ownership".[16]


The Brothers arrived in Martinez, California, US on the southern edge of the Carquinez Strait, part of the greater San Francisco Bay in 1868. In 1882 they began making wine for their own use at table and as sacramental wine. They also began to distill brandy, beginning with the pot-still production method that is used in the cognac region.[17]

In 1932, in the period when alcohol was prohibited in the US, they relocated the winery to the Mont La Salle property in the Napa Valley and continued making wine. In 1935 Brother Timothy Diener became wine master, and he served in this position for 50 years.[18] In the 1950s they acquired Greystone Cellars near St. Helena, California. Varietal wine was made at the Napa Valley facility, generic wine and brandy were produced at Reedley in the San Joaquin Valley, and barrel aging was handled at Greystone.[17]

The Christian Brothers winery operated under the corporate name "Mont La Salle Vineyards". In 1988 the winery employed 250 people and produced 900,000 cases of wine, 1.2 million cases of brandy, and 80,000 cases of altar wine. Proceeds from sales helped to fund the Christian Brothers programs and schools, such as Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, and the care of aging Brothers.[19]

In 1989 the company was sold to Heublein, Inc.. The sacramental wine brand was purchased by four former Christian Brothers winery executives who carry on the production as a non-profit under the name "Mont La Salle Altar Wines". The Brothers retained the Mont La Salle property and have a retreat located there.[17]


In the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA), an inquiry into institutional sexual and physical abuse in Northern Ireland institutions that were in charge of children from 1922 to 1995,[20] the De La Salle Brothers admitted in 2014 to the abuse of boys at two institutions: the former De La Salle Boys' Home, Rubane House, in Kircubbin, County Down, and St Patrick's Training School in west Belfast, and apologized to its victims. The order accepted that one of its earliest overseers engaged in sexual offences.[21] Representing the de la Salle order, Kevin Rooney QC said the brothers recognised that some of their members had caused "immense pain" to children which was "in contradiction to their vocation".[22] Senior Counsel Christine Smith QC said, "...[T]hose homes operated as outdated survivors of a bygone age."[23]

According to Tom O'Donoghue, in contrast to the more elite boarding school, "...schools for the lower social orders usually had the highest pupil-teacher ratios, resulting in many turning to corporal punishment as a behavioral management strategy". He also notes, " ...they were often... placed in charge of huge numbers of children from troubled backgrounds at a time when there was no professional child-care training."[24]

The Inquiry's first public hearings were held from January to May 2014 with the inquiry team reporting to the Executive by the start of 2016[needs update].[20] Module 3: De La Salle Boys Home at Rubane House, Kircubbin, started on 29 September 2014 and was completed on 17 December,[25] when the chairman paid tribute to the victims who testified. By October 2014 about 200 former residents of Rubane House made allegations of abuse, and 55 alleged that they themselves were physically or sexually abused. Billy McConville, orphaned when his mother Jean McConville was abducted and shot by the IRA in 1972, waived anonymity and described repeated sexual and physical abuse, and starvation, at Rubane House.[26] During the inquiry counsel for the De La Salle order said compensation had been paid, and accepted that some members had abused young boys at the home, but that the order believed that some claims "did not take place".[27]

Brother Francis Manning F.S.C. said that the order welcomed the inquiry.[28] Before the abuse issue had become public a Brother wrote in a letter to an alleged abuser "It is best forgotten and I have told some brothers that no reference is to be made to it among themselves or the boys. The whole affair is best dropped with the prayer that all will learn that lesson that our holy rule is very wise in its prescriptions". The order conducted dozens of internal interviews in this case, but did not report the matter to police.[29][30]

In the 1960s the deputy headmaster of St Gilbert's approved school (for young minor offenders) run by brothers from the De La Salle order in Hartlebury, Worcestershire, England, was convicted of six counts of sexually abusing boys at the school. He was subsequently reinstated as a teacher at another school. In 2014, former pupils of the school described "a 30-year campaign of sadistic and degrading abuse" including rapes and beatings.[31] A headmaster, a deputy headmaster, and Brothers were reported to have been among those responsible. Police launched an investigation into allegations of abuse at the school between the 1940s and 1970s after former pupils were interviewed by BBC Hereford and Worcester, and documents intended to be unavailable until 2044 were released under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In 2017 and 2018 two former staff members were tried for serious sexual offences, assault causing actual bodily harm, and child cruelty. They were acquitted of all charges other than three charges of child cruelty against one of the defendants, on which the jury was unable to reach a verdict.[32] Other, named, abusers were reported to have died.[31]

There were other cases with many victims in countries including Scotland (St Ninian's in Gartmore, Stirlingshire; St Joseph's in Tranent; St Mary's in Bishopbriggs),[33] Australia,[34][35] and Ireland.[36] Serious and detailed allegations about decades-old abuse have been reported in the US, with several lawsuits being settled in favour of victims.[37][38][39][40] After the scandal became widely known, branches of the Order apologised, publicly or to individual victims, for several of these cases.[31][34][36] At St William's residential school in Market Weighton, England, between 1970 and 1991 many boys were abused; 200 now adult men have said they were abused. Abusers including the principal, James Carragher, were imprisoned in 2004 for past sexual abuse at the home. The Catholic Church had several opportunities to investigate the abuse, but did nothing; many of the complaints of abuse by others went through Carragher. Five victims started High Court action for compensation in 2016.Four of the cases were dismissed in December 2016 The De La Salle order repeated their apologies for and condemnation of the abuse.[41] In Australia the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,[42] which started in 2013, reported in December 2013 that in the period 1 January 1996 to 30 September 2013, 2,215 complaints of abuse were received by the Catholic Church's Towards Healing programme, mostly relating to 1950–1980. "The Church authority with the largest number of complaints was the Christian Brothers, followed by the Marist and then the De La Salle Brothers. The most common positions held by the Church personnel and employees subject to a Towards Healing complaint at the time of the alleged incident were religious brother (43% of all complaints), diocesan priest (21% of all complaints) and religious priest (14% of all complaints)."[43]

There are also ongoing investigations involving a number of other schools and the De La Salle order has only apologised where they have been legally found guilty and not where the allegations haven't been prosecuted. This had brought about a widespread condemnation from former, allegedly abused pupils who lack the evidence to bring about a prosecution[44].

Lasallian Saints and Blesseds



See also


  1. ^ "Home". Manhattan College.
  2. ^ a b Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "La Salle, St Jean Baptiste de". Encyclopædia Britannica. 16 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 231.
  3. ^ "Generalate – Message for the Jubilee Year of Mercy". 10 December 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  4. ^ Morgan, F.S.C., G., Lasallian Education – 150 Years in Toronto, 2001
  5. ^ Spindler, Marc R., "La Salle, Jean-Baptiste de", Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, (Gerald H. Anderson, ed.), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1999 ISBN 9780802846808
  6. ^ a b c Paul Joseph, Brother. "Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 26 January 2016
  7. ^ C. Moe, Hardly a soft landing: the first Australian foundation of the De La Salle Brothers – Armidale 1906, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 28 (2007), 67–73.
  8. ^ "Regions – Christian Brothers Conference". Lasallian Region of North America. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  9. ^ "5 Core Principles – Christian Brothers Conference". Lasallian Region of North America. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  10. ^ Susan Klemond (6 January 2016). "Christian brother reflects on life, future of Lasallian tradition". Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  11. ^ "History", Lasallian District of San Francisco New Orleans
  12. ^ Guadalupana De La Salle Sisters
  13. ^ "La Salle Sisters", La
  14. ^ "Lasallian Volunteers – what lvs do". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Lasallian Volunteers – benefits". Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  16. ^ CBIS: Overview
  17. ^ a b c Berger, Dan. "Christian Bros. Winery Is Sold to Heublein", Los Angeles Times, 17 May 1989
  18. ^ Saekel, Karola. "Christian Brother Timothy – pioneer in wine industry", SF Gate, 3 December 2004
  19. ^ "Since 1882", Mont La Salle Altar Wines
  20. ^ a b BBC News: Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry – the background, 13 January 2014
  21. ^ Belfast Telegraph: Rubane House 'like Hell upon Earth' for 69-year-old branded a liar for reporting his abuse as boy, 9 October 2014
  22. ^ The Irish News: De La Salle brothers apologise for abuse, 15 January 2014
  23. ^ The Guardian newspaper, 14 January 2014
  24. ^ O'Donoghue, Tom. Catholic Teaching Brothers: Their Life in the English-Speaking World, 1891–1965, p.152, Palgrave Macmillan, 2012 ISBN 9781137269065
  25. ^ BBC:Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry tribute to witnesses, 17 December 2014
  26. ^ UTV:Jean McConville's child 'abused at Rubane', 6 November 2014 Archived 2 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  27. ^ "HIA: De La Salle order 'to protect innocent brothers' from Rubane House – BBC News". BBC. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  28. ^ "Hansard Report", Northern Ireland Assembly, 19 September 2012
  29. ^ Catholic Universe: Abuse cases ‘best forgotten’, De La Salle brother decreed, 3 October 2014[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Rubane House: Sex abuse inquiry 'best forgotten' said senior cleric". BBC News. 30 September 2014. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  31. ^ a b c BBC News:Hymns and screams: Abuse at St Gilbert's approved school revealed, 1 December 2014
  32. ^ "Former St Gilbert's head teacher cleared of child cruelty". BBC News. 7 November 2018.
  33. ^ The Scotsman, Executive fights to halt £8.5m claim from abused former pupils, 17 January 2006
  34. ^ a b Broken Rites helped two female victims to gain an apology
  35. ^ National Catholic Reporter: Catholic church appears before Australian Royal Commission into sexual abuse, 13 December 2013
  36. ^ a b Government of Ireland:Establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA):The De La Salle Brothers, 1.129–1.131
  37. ^ NEELA BANERJEE (25 December 2004). "$6.3 Million to Be Paid to Settle Abuse Case". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  38. ^ La Salle alumnus alleges sex abuse, 22 September 2014 Troy, New York]
  39. ^ John Simerman (26 June 2009). "Former De La Salle teacher faces new sexual abuse allegations in Minnesota". Mercury News. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  40. ^ PATRICK CONDON (7 December 2010). "Top Catholic School Program Concealed Sexual Abuse Knowledge". Huffington Post (from AP). Archived from the original on 7 March 2016.
  41. ^ "Victims take church to court over St William's school sex abuse". BBC News. 31 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  42. ^ "Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Web site)". Retrieved 14 December 2015.
  43. ^ Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at Sydney, Australia, PUBLIC HEARING INTO THE RESPONSE OF TOWARDS HEALING, paragraph 56, 9 December 2013
  44. ^

External links

  • De La Salle Christian Brothers
  • De La Salle Christian Brothers, Province of Great Britain
  • Brief history of the Lasallian Institute
  • Works by Christian Brothers at Project Gutenberg
  • Internet Archive
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