The origination of De La Salle High School began more than three centuries ago with our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Born into a wealthy and influential French family, de La Salle made the choice at a young age to pursue the priesthood instead of a legal career like his father. By the time he was fifteen, he had inherited a canonry at the Cathedral of Reims, and by twenty-seven, he was ordained.
It was at this time that a series of incidents put de La Salle on a path that he could never have anticipated - one that has him celebrated worldwide as an educational pioneer, the founder of an entire religious order, and a saint.
John Baptist de La Salle was a man of his time.
Born in France in 1651 to a wealthy family, De La Salle lived in an age of great thinkers and great people. He grew up whilst St. Vincent De Paul was establishing his great work with the poor and when in England; the philosopher John Locke was penning his 'Thoughts on Education'.
De La Salle was himself a well-educated man.
De La Salle’s highest degree was a Doctorate in Theology. In 1684, he founded the first, non-clerical, male teaching order in the Church. Others had tried but had failed to establish the connection between a life of prayer, the apostolate, and community life. De La Salle saw the connection of all three.
That is not to say that life was easy. De La Salle (a priest) encountered many obstacles within the Church and from civil authorities that had something to lose with the establishment of ‘free’ Christian Schools. Indeed, in 1691, De La Salle, with two other Brothers, made a vow of association to remain together and to achieve God's work that had been entrusted to them, despite adverse circumstances.
John Baptist De La Salle was very much an innovator when it came to education.
De La Salle established schools for those unable to obtain an education. He also conceived the idea of having the students in one classroom with the teacher. He established Teacher Training Colleges, Technical Schools, and a Maritime College, wrote on Special Education, and had the notion that students would learn best in their mother tongue, rather than in Latin.
De La Salle died on April 7, 1719, and was canonized as a Saint in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII.
De La Salle died on Good Friday morning in Saint Yon, Rouen on April 7, 1719. Throughout Rouen and beyond, word spread that “the Saint is dead.” Pope Leo XIII canonized John Baptist de La Salle a Saint in 1900, and Pope Pius XII proclaimed him Principal Patron Saint of Teachers and Students in 1950.
Over three hundred years later, more than three thousand De La Salle Brothers and 90,000 educators continue the work of St. John Baptist de La Salle across 80 countries. These people "devote themselves wholeheartedly, to the human and Christian education of youth."
For more information about John Baptist de La Salle, please visit our History page.