What is Lasallian Education?
St. John Baptist de La Salle founded the Brothers of the Christian Schools in the late 17th century. In the almost 300 years since his death in 1719, Lasallian schools have been founded in over 80 countries around the world and presently educate over one million students. These schools include elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, schools for troubled youth, universities, graduate schools, and alternative education centers.
Christian Brothers Academy is one of approximately fifty secondary schools in the Lasallian Network nationwide. While some of those schools are diocesan or parish owned, CBA is one of the schools that is sponsored directly by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and governed by a Board of Trustees composed of Brothers and lay persons. Christian Brothers Academy is accountable to the Diocese of Trenton for the authentic way it educates students in the Catholic faith; otherwise, its governance allows a unique educational vision to find expression.
What are the essential elements of that vision? Though they can find different articulations, the following four principles seem key as they are lived out at Christian Brothers:
A Lasallian School is Committed to Faith which is Expressed through Service.
A Lasallian education stresses the responsibility of all students to attend to the development of a spiritual life and personal relationship with God. Frequent prayer and periodic liturgical celebrations invite the students to enter into rhythms of life appropriate for an adult believer. One of the most important dimensions of that life is service. Our students are required to give service to the needy each year, but their commitment to these activities, as seen in community outreach, service trips, and numerous charitable drives, goes far beyond requirements. It is an introduction to a way of life. The faculty takes seriously its responsibility to serve as models of both faith and zeal, the distinctive spirit of the Brothers’ Institute and the Lasallian family worldwide.
A Lasallian School is an Educational Environment Committed to Excellence.
Though Lasallian schools will define excellence differently based on their context, each school pursues it. As a selective college preparatory school, CBA is committed to rigorous academic inquiry, an atmosphere which promotes self-discipline, and a competitive ethos that fosters a quest for that “personal best.” Christian Brothers Academy is a high school where students greet others’ achievements with excitement, not derision and where students expect to perform and excel for the rest of their lives. The face of both the Church and society will doubtless appear very different over the next quarter century. CBA men are prepared not just to be participants but leaders in both those contexts.
A Lasallian School is a Community of Teachers and Learners.
While the community in different Lasallian schools can vary widely and thus educational goals look very different in turn, all Lasallian schools are alike in this way. The needs of the individual learner are recognized, put first, and inspire programs designed to meet those needs not conform to external standards. This spirit of respect for the individual is contagious. The halls of CBA are characterized by “high spirited good order.” Quiet when they need to be, the students at other times display a warmth and enthusiasm that are palpable. Practically devoid of bullying and harassment, the school is a place where the young men are conscious of each other’s needs and achievements. Their interaction with adults is relaxed but respectful. The brotherhood in the school’s name is not merely an allusion to governance or heritage; it is a lived reality.
The Lasallian School Community is Inclusive.
The Lasallian tradition of Catholic education welcomes students of all backgrounds. While by some measures, CBA may appear relatively homogeneous, on others, the community is incredibly diverse. The young men come from three counties, almost 70 schools, and perhaps a hundred places of worship. Their special interests are served by a myriad of activities. Though Lasallian schools in the Middle East and Asia proudly serve majority Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist populations, the preponderance of students at Christian Brothers Academy are Catholic. Students of all faiths, however, are welcome to share in this total educational experience. Likewise, the Lasallian school recognizes the difficult realities of family life in our contemporary society. It both welcomes and supports students from families constituted in every imaginable way. All parents can have a similar place in the life of the school. The Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools has described the Lasallian family as “the friendly face of the Church.” This non-judgmental and accepting face is the one we hope all our students and their families see when they join the Academy family.
In the Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the Institute states its ultimate Mission as follows:
"The purpose of this Institute is to give a human and Christian education to the young, especially the poor, according to the ministry which the Church has entrusted to it."
St. La Salle’s original vision was that a good secular education was not subordinate to or separate from religious education. Rather, practical learning and skills were to be seen as essential to forming the person of faith. An education leading to meaningful employment, then as now, allows students to choose a virtuous life opening the door to eternal life.
Ultimately, the Lasallian school participates in God’s saving work in the world. Christian Brothers Academy is privileged to share this Mission.