On this Day of Consecrated life, we are invited to “thank the Lord for the great gift of the consecrated life which enriches and rejoices the Church through the multiplicity of its charisms and the devotedness of so many lives totally dedicated to the Lord and to our brothers and sisters” (Jean-Paul II)¹.
This is the chance for us to meet Brother Jacques-Vincent of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Inspired by the life and vision of Jean-Baptiste de La Salle, patron saint of teachers, these religious Brothers are dedicated to the service of young people, especially the poorest, through different aspects of the work of education. The fragilities which they address may be of the material or the intellectual or the spiritual order.
The diversity of profiles among young people is immense. “We are living here in the midst of them, and in that way we can evangelise them.” As in any family, festive moments alternate with others that are more difficult. The Brothers share their times of liturgical prayer together and make their meditation in community. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle linked the work of education with the life of prayer, using the image of Jacob’s ladder. The religious are like God’s messengers going up and down unceasingly “between heaven and earth, between God and the young people”.
Brother Jacques-Vincent, entered the novitiate at the age of twenty-five, and he recalls with obvious joy his missions in Israel and in Egypt. The Institute is in fact present in 78 countries. It was while doing his military service that Jacques-Vincent became aware of the poverty in education. It echoed in him like a “provocative challenge”. Sister Emmanuelle, whom he once knew, used to say that one needs to be rich in order to give to the poor. For him, richness means relationships. “They are something very important to me. But it has to be a free relationship, which does not confine a person.” Seeing Jesus in one’s neighbour is a leitmotiv for him. And in this case the neighbour is any young person.