PENAMPANG – On its vocation page this year, Catholic Sabah (CS) focuses on the Lasallian charism.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle was born in France in 1651. He belonged to one of the more important families in the city of Rheims. At the age of 27 he was ordained a priest.
Attentive to God’s voice, a voice calling him to place all his trust in Him, John Baptist stripped himself of everything: first of his title as canon, then of his patrimony which he distributed to the poor during a famine that desolated France in 1683 and 1684, thereby becoming completely poor himself just as the young people who came to his schools, and just like the teachers whom he encouraged to place their faith in God.
De La Salle felt himself “moved by the abandonment of the children of the artisans and of the poor.” A little while later, he found himself involved in helping a group of teachers, in order to establish schools for poor children. To offer them a good education, he established gratuitous, Christian Schools. He joined these teachers and founded a lay community with them, who took the name of “Brothers of the Christian Schools” (1680).
He then understood that God had led him into an unforeseeable undertaking: the birth of a new type of consecrated life, that of Religious Brotherhood.
In 1725 the Institute received the formal approbation of the Church in the papal bull: “In apostolicae dignitatis solio.”
John Baptist de La Salle was canonized in 1900. In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed him “Special Patron of all Christian educators.”
Today, the large Lasallian family is formed by about 5,000 Brothers, who together with 84,000 men and women teachers and numerous other Lay associates help in running 1,000 education centers, in 80 countries. 850,000 students, children, youth and even adults, receive the best education available in Lasallian educational establishments.
The Lasallian charism, always alive and renewing itself, has borne fruit, even in the birth of other congregations and groups of consecrated men and women.
The Lasallian Family recognizes and welcomes persons of other religions, believers of other faiths traditions who share the Lasallian Educational Mission and who call De La Salle “our Founder.”
The educational activity of the Lasallian Family is carried out on all social levels. The Institute is also positively involved in the educational rights of children.
The educational centers of the Lasallian Institute exist on all levels: early education and primary schools, secondary /high schools, colleges, professional formation programs and universities.
In the footsteps of the Founder, 13 Brothers have been canonized, 77 are beatified and another 86, among them numerous martyrs, are on either on the way to sainthood with their process begun or nearing completion. -www.lasalle.org
La Salle Brothers in Sabah
In Sabah, the first pioneer group of Brothers were Brother Raphael Egan, Brother Charles O’leary and Brother Thomas Carney (1958). The other who came were Bro Patrick Donovan (1959), and in 1960 Bro Frederick Lynch, Bro Theodore Quigley, Bro Brendan Dunne, Bro Peter Phelan, Bro Oliver Fox, Bro Fridolin Goughran and Bro Lawrence Blake.
The local Brothers are Bro Peter Ng, Bro Justin Mobilik, Bro Herbertus Gampok, and Bro Egbertus Severinus.
The La Salle Brothers took over the administration of both the Sacred Heart Secondary and Primary Schools in January 1958 and renamed the Secondary to La Salle Secondary in May 1958 after the Founder of the Order, St John Baptist de La Salle. This was done partly to avoid confusion with the Primary. Bro Thomas Carney was the the first Brother headmaster of the Primary, while Bro Raphael Egan was the first Brother principal of the Secondary. Bro Brendan Dunne succeeded him as the second in 1966 and Bro Charles as the third in 1969.
The La Salle Brothers also took over the administration of St Mary’s Secondary and Primary, Sandakan in 1963 and St Martin’s Tampasak, Tambunan in Aug 1976. The late Bro Peter Phelan founded a hostel for the poor, mostly Muruts, at Nabawan called “’Butitin’ meaning ‘A Star’ in the early ‘90s. They also have a hostel for boarders attending La Salle Secondary at Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu. (Bro Charles O’leary as well as adapted from Rededication)