1651-1679 A PROMISING CHILDHOOD.
30 April 1651
J-B de la Salle was born into an upper-class family in Rheims on April 30th 1651 and enjoyed a high-level education. His parents accepted his wish to study for the priesthood. He joined the St Sulpice Seminary in Paris and studied at the Sorbonne. However, this experience was short lived owing to the death of his mother and then of his father; he had to come back to Rheims and assume the raising of his 6 brothers and sisters as well as the responsibility for managing the family wealth. Spiritually advised by Canon Nicolas Roland, his elder, JB who was 27, became a priest then a doctor of theology.
1679 -1691 FROM ONE COMMITMENT TO ANOTHER
1 January 1679
Faithful to the spirit of zeal of his friend Nicolas Roland, in 1679 JB supported the idea of Adrien Nyel, a teacher from Rouen to open schools for the poor. Gradually involved, JB worked for the creation of free Christian schools for boys and for the care and training of the teachers. He renounced his wealth and social position to give himself wholly to GOD. He shared the life of the masters and with them he created a community named: “Brothers of the Christian schools” The community grew larger, new schools opened and in 1788 JB left Rheims for Paris where he was called, with 2 other brothers.
1691-1712 GROWTH AND DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED
1 January 1691
JB entered this new mission with faith and fervour. In 1691 with 2 other brothers, he took a “heroic vow” of faithfulness until death with a view to creating free Christian schools. The success of those schools attracted many students, new brothers and requests for foundations. There were many difficulties and persecutions: starvation, disease, lawsuits and schools plundered by the teachers of paying schools, incomprehension by part of the clergy, court convictions.
1712-1714 JOURNEY THROUGH THE NIGHT
1 January 1712
After a new law suit which he lost, JB went on a two year to visit schools and communities in the centre and south of France: Mende, Marseille, Avignon, Grenoble. He both encountered help and opposition. During these difficult times he was assailed by doubts and tempted to give up. He sought out for the will of GOD whose presence he no longer felt
1714-1719 LIGHT AT THE END OF THE ROAD
1 January 1714
Two events bring light to him: at the Hermitage of Parménie, he is encouraged by a poor and saintly woman: Sister Louise. On the other hand, he feels challenged by the letter, the Brothers from Paris send him to ask him to resume his leadership of their “Congregation” in the name of his vow of obedience to this congregation. JB felt that this was a sign from God. After this, JB still had a few more years to live. In 1717, one of his heartfelt wishes became true, when he managed to have his successor elected: Brother