Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools

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For a different Roman Catholic religious institute also commonly known as "Christian Brothers", see Congregation of Christian Brothers.
Brothers of the Christian Schools
John baptist de la salle 1.jpg
St. John Baptist de la Salle (also: Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle), (1651–1719), Founder
Abbreviation F.S.C.
Motto "Signum fidei" Latin, ("Sign of faith")[1]
Type religious teaching congregation
Headquarters Generalate of the Brothers of the Christian Schools
Superior General
Bro. Robert Schieler, F.S.C.[2]
Key people
St. John Baptist de La Salle – founder

"The Brothers of the Christian Schools" (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 Roman Catholic religious teaching congregation, founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle (1651–1719), and now based in Rome, Italy. The Brothers use the post-nominal abbreviation of "F.S.C." to denote their membership of the order, and use the honorific title of "Brother", abbreviated "Br.". The Lasallian Christian Brothers (who follow the teachings of their founder, Jean Baptiste de La Salle) are not the same order as the "Irish Christian Brothers" (Congregation of Christian Brothers) based in Ireland.

There is a global community of Lasallian educational institutions that are assisted by more than 73,000 lay colleagues they teach over 900,000 students in over 80 countries and vary from teaching in impoverished nations such as Nigeria to post-secondary institutions such as Bethlehem University, and the La Salle Universities in Philadelphia and Manila.[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. There are 560 Lasallian schools around the world, a number that has diminished with time. A number of Lasallian institutions have been accused of, and have admitted and apologised for, long-standing 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 Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, a French priest from a wealthy family. 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 and Africa.

The Institute traces its North American beginnings back to 1837 Montreal.[7] From there, brothers traveled in 1845 to staff Calvert Hall in Baltimore. This became the first permanent Lasallian school in the United States.[8] In 1848, four Christian Brothers journeyed to New York from France, and within two months they established St. Vincent’s Parochial School on Canal Street.[9] At the request of Bishop De Charbonnel, In 1851 five Brothers came to Toronto, Ontario at the request of Bishop De Charbonnel and opened De La Salle College (“Oaklands").[10] The Generalate was transferred to Rome in 1936.[5]

They numbered about 14,000 members at the beginning of the 20th century running over 2,000 schools. The De La Salle Christian Brothers are the largest Roman Catholic lay religious order of men exclusively devoted to education.[11]

The order[edit]

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).[12]

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 persons, quality education, concern for the poor and social justice.[13]



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 2016 the Institute conducted educational work in 80 different countries, in both developed and developing nations, with more than 800,000 students enrolled in its educational works.[11]


  • 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.[14]
  • 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.[15]
  • Lasallian Volunteers are lay people who volunteer for one or two years to engage in teaching and other Lasallian activities.[16] They receive room and board and a living stipend.[17]

Other activities[edit]

In 1882 the Brothers started a winery in Martinez California on the edge of the Carquinez Straits, part of the greater San Francisco Bay. In 1932 they relocated the winery to the Napa Valley. In the 1950s they acquired Greystone Cellars near St. Helena, California and operated there until it was sold to Heublein, Inc. in 1989.[18]

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".[19]


Abuse of boys[edit]

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.[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]

In 2014 pupils who were beaten and raped at St Gilbert's approved school (for young minor offenders) in Hartlebury, Worcestershire, England run by brothers from the De La Salle order, revealed "a 30-year campaign of sadistic and degrading abuse".[28] The headmaster, 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. Arrests of two former staff members on suspicion of offences including assault occasioning actual bodily harm and sexual activity with a boy aged 13 to 15 were made in 2015.[29][30] Other, named, abusers were reported to have died.[28]

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),[31] Australia,[32][33] and Ireland[34] Serious and detailed allegations about decades-old abuse have been reported in the US, with lawsuits ensuing[35][36][37]

Brother Francis Manning F.S.C. said that the order, welcomed the inquiry.[38] 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.[39]

After the scandal became widely known, branches of the Order apologised, publicly or to individual victims, for several of these cases.[28][32][34]

In Australia the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse[40] was in progress as of December 2015, investigating the period 1 January 1996 to 30 September 2013. It found that "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)."[41]

Lasallian saints[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Home". Manhattan College. 
  2. ^ "Br. Robert Schieler elected Superior General", 21 May 2014. Retrieved on 11 June 2014
  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. ^ a b 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. ^ "History", FSC District of Eastern North America
  8. ^ "History", Calvert Hall
  9. ^ La Salle Academy, New York City
  10. ^ De La Salle College,“Oaklands", Toronto
  11. ^ a b "History", Lasallian District of San Francisco New Orleans
  12. ^ "Regions – Christian Brothers Conference". Lasallian Region of North America. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  13. ^ "5 Core Principles – Christian Brothers Conference". Lasallian Region of North America. Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  14. ^ Guadalupana De La Salle Sisters
  15. ^ "La Salle Sisters", La
  16. ^ "Lasallian Volunteers - what lvs do". Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  17. ^ "Lasallian Volunteers - benefits". Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ CBIS: Overview
  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
  27. ^ "HIA: De La Salle order 'to protect innocent brothers' from Rubane House - BBC News". BBC. Retrieved 1 December 2015. 
  28. ^ a b c BBC News:Hymns and screams: Abuse at St Gilbert's approved school revealed, 1 December 2014
  29. ^ BBC News: St Gilbert's school abuse inquiry suspect arrested, 29 April 2015
  30. ^ BBC News:Ex-St Gilbert's school worker in abuse arrest, 12 June 2015
  31. ^ The Scotsman ,Executive fights to halt £8.5m claim from abused former pupils, 17 January 2006
  32. ^ a b Broken Rites helped two female victims to gain an apology
  33. ^ National Catholic Reporter: Catholic church appears before Australian Royal Commission into sexual abuse, 13 December 2013
  34. ^ a b Government of Ireland:Establishment of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA):The De La Salle Brothers, 1.129-1.131
  35. ^ La Salle alumnus alleges sex abuse, 22 September 2014 Troy, New York]
  36. ^ Mercury News: Former De La Salle teacher faces new sexual abuse allegations in Minnesota, 26 June 2009 Minnesota
  37. ^ Huffington Post (from AP): Top Catholic School Program Concealed Sexual Abuse Knowledge, 12/07/2010
  38. ^ "Hansard Report", Northern Ireland Assembly, 19 September 2012
  39. ^ Catholic Universe: Abuse cases ‘best forgotten’, De La Salle brother decreed, 3rd October 2014
  40. ^ "Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Web site)". Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  41. ^ Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse at Sydney, Australia, PUBLIC HEARING INTO THE RESPONSE OF TOWARDS HEALING, 9 December 2013

External links[edit]