Last April 30, the great organizational challenge was for Rheims, organized by Brother Jean-Paul Aleth and some KTO partners, Bayard, La Croix and RCF, on the occasion of the celebration of the birth in heaven of Saint John the Baptist de la Salle, who was born precisely on this day in 1651. Three centuries later, several millions of young people have celebrated his works and charism all over the world, as well as today in Reims and even before in Rouen.
The celebrations began Monday morning on April 29 with a pilgrimage to Notre-Dame de Liesse, with the participation of the Brothers, including the Visitor of France Jean-Rene Gentric, about 130 students and more than 15 teachers and educators of Lasallian schools around Rheims. The participants took the bus to about 13 km from the sanctuary, then, by groups of each school, did the final stages of the pilgrimage on foot to the Marian shrine, where De La Salle and the first Brothers went after their first vows in 1686. On their arrival at Notre-Dame de Liesse, the group shared a packed lunch. The presentations of the Lasallian Regions of PARC, RELAF, RELAL and RELAN were followed by the presentation of voluntary and pastoral activities of the District of France. The day ended with a prayer during which the students reflected on Lasallian’s spirit and commitment.
In the evening, during a panel discussion on the vocation of the educator, five moving testimonies on the meaning given to the profession were proposed (they will soon be available as a podcast on the website www.lasallefrance.fr).
Instead, on the morning of April 30, Arnaud Robinet, Mayor of Reims and former Lasallian student, received a delegation of Brothers and laity, including those from Rome: the Vicar General, Brother Jorge Gallardo and the Brother Councilors of the Superior General. Aidan Kilty and Rafael Matas.
In the afternoon, at 4:30 p.m., the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort began in the Our Lady of Reims Cathedral. It was a solemn and moving Mass in the presence of Brothers and lay people from around the world to celebrate the work of John Baptist De La Salle. Once again, Brother Jorge Gallardo, Vicar General of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Brothers Councilors Aidan Kilty and Rafael Matas, the Provincial Visitor Jean-René Gentric and his assistants, Brothers Claude Reinhardt, Daniel Elziere, and Jean-Marie Ballenghien were present with the entire La Salle network team.