“Prepare a path for God so that he can enter your heart.” 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle

 

Saint John Paul II Academy is a school operated by the Diocese of Palm Beach in the tradition of Saint John Baptist de La Salle.

John Baptist de La Salle was the first son of wealthy parents living in France over 300 years ago. Born at Reims, John Baptist de La Salle received the tonsure at age eleven and named Canon of the Reims Cathedral at sixteen. Though he had to assume the administration of family affairs after his parents died, he completed his theological studies and was ordained a priest on April 9, 1678. Two years later he received a doctorate in theology. Meanwhile he became tentatively involved with a group of rough and barely literate young men in order to establish schools for poor boys.

Moved by the plight of the poor who seemed so "far from salvation", he abandoned his family home, moved in with the teachers, renounced his position as Canon and his wealth, and so formed the community that became known as the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

His enterprise met opposition who resisted the creation of a new form of religious life, a community of consecrated laymen to conduct gratuitous schools "together and by association." The educational establishment resented his innovative methods and his insistence on gratuity for all, regardless of whether they could afford to pay.

John Baptist de La Salle was a pioneer in founding training colleges for teachers, reform schools for delinquents, technical schools, and secondary schools for modern languages, arts, and sciences. His work quickly spread and, after his death, continued to spread across the globe.

In 1900 John Baptist de La Salle was declared a Saint. In 1950 he was made Patron Saint of all those who work in the field of education. John Baptist de La Salle inspired others how to teach and care for young people, how to meet failure and frailty with compassion, how to affirm, strengthen and heal. Now there are De La Salle schools in 82 different countries around the globe serving over 1 million students.

We give thanks to God for those Brothers and Lasallians who, wherever they are working, put their whole heart into the option for the poor, attempting, through their educational action, to build a world with greater solidarity and justice.