12 Quotes from Pope Francis to Lasallians

By: Óscar Elizalde Prada

On 21 May, at 10:30 a.m. (Rome time), Pope Francis received the participants in the 46th  General Chapter of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the Consistory Hall at the Vatican.

In his address to the representatives of Lasallians from all over the world[1], the Pope took up the theme of the General Chapter: “building new paths to transform lives”, highlighting the values of the rich Lasallian tradition and its commitment to “educate in responsibility, creativity, coexistence, justice and peace; to educate in the inner life, in being open to the transcendent, in the sense of wonder and contemplation before the mystery of life and creation”.

Francis proposed two great educational challenges to Lasallians: the challenge of fraternity and the challenge of caring for the common home, in line with the priority values discerned by the General Chapter.

In the same way, he exhorted Lasallian educators to focus their efforts so that the paths of transformation start from the conscience, otherwise “it will only be a façade”. Hence the importance of not working alone “but by cooperating in an ‘educational alliance’ with families, with communities and ecclesial aggregations, with the educational realities present in the territory”.

The following selection of quotes from Pope Francis to Lasallians complies  some ‘significant words’ that could well enlighten and contribute to the process of renewal and updating of the charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle in today’s world, and from the perspective proposed by the 46th General Chapter which will conclude on Sunday 22 May[2].

1. “We know that the ‘Way’, the truly new way, is Jesus Christ: by following him, by walking with him, our lives are transformed, and in turn we become leaven, salt, and light”.

2. “For you, following the charism of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, these ‘new paths’ are, first and foremost, paths of education“.

3. “Educational work is a great gift, first and foremost for those who carry it out: it is a work that denabds a lot, but gives a lot! “.

4. “The constant relationship with educators, with parents and especially with children and young people is an ever-living source of humanity“.

5. “I am reminded of the motto of St. John Paul II in Redemptor hominis: ‘Man is the way for the Church’. You put this motto into practice in your educational mission”. 

6. “Your apostolate, your specific contribution to evangelisation [is] to make humanity grow according to Christ. In this sense, your schools are ‘Christian’: not because of an external label”.

7. “The two great challenges of our time: the challenge of fraternity and the challenge of caring for our common home, cannot be answered except through education. Both are primarily educational challenges“.

8. “You, brothers, are in the front line, educating so as to move from a closed world to an open world; from a throwaway culture to a culture of care; from the pursuit of vested interests to the pursuit of the common good”.

9. “As educators, you know very well that this transformation must start from the conscience, or it will only be a façade.”

10. “To be good workers[3] , you must not neglect yourselves. You cannot give to young what you do not have within yourselves.

11. “The Christian educator, in the school of Christ, is first of all a witness, and he is a teacher to the extent that he is a witness“.

12. “Go forth with the joy of evangelising by educating and of educating by evangelising“.

Postscript: At the end of his addressm Pope Francis blessed the Brother Capitulants and all the Lasallian communities around the world. As is his custom, he made a request: “Please do not forget to pray for me”. The Pope also promised them his prayers: I pray for you, that you may be Brothers not only in name but in fact. And may your schools be Christian not only in name but in fact”.

[1] The full address of Pope Francis to the participants in the General Chapter of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, delivered on 21 May 2022, is available on the Vatican website: https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2022/may/documents/20220521-fratelli-scuole-cristiane.html

[2] The following sentences are my own translation of the original Italian text.

[3] In his address the Pope properly used the word “workers” (operai) referring to educational work.