France – The La Salle Educational Fraternity

France – The La Salle Educational Fraternity

Let us aim at education with a spark in it

The various local Lasallian Fraternities of France came together for a large national assembly in Dijon from October the 21st to the 23rd under the banner slogan ‘Is not my heart burning?’ (cf. Luke 24,32).

There were more than 300 Brothers and Lay Lasallians present at the gathering, which takes place every four years. Brother Jean-Paul Aleth, Visitor of France, launched the proceedings by  recalling the three dimensions that are involved in the Lasallian educational mission. Firstly there is the provision of education for all children especially the less privileged, and we can call this the dimension of mission, because it ensures the continuation of the educational mission and charism of an establishment as an institution. Secondly and thirdly there is our Fraternity which ties us by a commitment to a universal dimension and an ecclesial dimension.

Baptism comes not only by water but also by fire. This idea inspired us throughout the three days and made us dare to ambition a pedagogy with a spark to it. The spark is in the look we bestow on the young individual, because in of the words of the German intellectual, Nicolas de Cues, “I exist because you look at me”, an idea that has been developed notably by the philosopher Isabelle Raviolo. The look is a promise of a path that we open up for the students, to raise them up and to watch over them. But for the fire to be ignited there is a need for there to be communities that are simple, contagious and fraternal.

The writer François Garagnon has challenged us about the dominance of the ‘me first’ attitude as opposed to the gift of self! We are living an age of “action”, and it is down to us to find the balance between letting go and holding fast. The fundamental mission of the schools is to make the young people become actors in their own lives. The school is a place for finding knowledge, but it is also is a place for awakenings, and no transmission is possible without fire.

According to Father Raphaël Buyse, we have to commit ourselves to one another. “Jesus does not tell us to love self but to love the ‘you’!”. The love that we must give requires a wise dosage in combining closeness and distance, which for us Lasallians means a benevolent distance.

After each of the different presentations, the 300 participants divided into working groups to find ways to put into practice the idea of ‘education with a spark’. They were guided by three questions. How do I perceive my profession? What sparks enabled me to develop in my life’s journey? What is needed to make the local fraternity a place where the spark can be experienced? This resulted in many responses: the schools do not belong to us; we are conveyors of knowledge commissioned to be facilitators and agitators who must show audacity and humility; the sparks are also found in the unexpected things in life; when we are confronted with difficulties it is good to find help in certain colleagues in order to discern things better, understand our problems better; and we should be ‘the watchers and awakeners in our schools’, as Brother Jean-Paul Aleth said.

A big ‘thank you’ is due to Laurent Vrignon, Director of the Fraternities Group, and to his team and to the inter-delegational link persons, for the organisation and the running of this sparkling national assembly.

Lionel Fauthoux

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