Who are Young Lasallians?
Young Lasallians are adolescents and young adults who are moved by the spirit of St. John Baptist De La Salle and who wish to be active agents of change against poverty and injustice as they contribute to transform the lives of the young, especially the poor, through education. The term Young Lasallians is an inclusive reality that brings together all groups of young people who are in some way or another connected to the Lasallian Educational Mission, while acknowledging their different realities and needs.
Why focusing on Young Lasallians?
The Young Lasallian Movement aims at awakening awareness of the personal and collective vocational journey of adolescents and young adults involved in the Lasallian Educational Mission. This movement engages them on a personal, professional, and spiritual level to go beyond their boundaries to reach out so that they, and those they accompany, may have life, and have it in its fullest (John 10:10). Young Lasallians respond to a call to be on a journey of living the Lasallian values and carrying out the mission that Saint John-Baptist De-La-Salle first started more than 300 years ago.
Where is this happening?
Young Lasallians are everywhere! Wherever there is a Lasallian educational ministry, there are young people whose life has been touched by the Lasallian charism and who dedicate themselves to the Lasallian Educational Mission. The Young Lasallians Movement takes a different form in each of the 80 countries and more where Lasallians are present, given the different local realities and cultures, and that it is this diversity of expressions of the same mission that brings an invaluable richness to the Institute.
What’s done at the International level?
The International Council of Young Lasallians (ICYL) has the responsibility of encouraging the unity of this movement and to implement common projects based on a common vision. It is comprised of one member for each of the five Regions of the Institute, along with the International Coordinator for Young Lasallians.
As part of the building of this international vision, the 3rd International Symposium of Young Lasallians (ISYL) was held in Rome in February 2014. More than 40 young people from 25 countries gathered at the Mother House to identify and prioritize objectives and lines of action for the Young Lasallians Movement, aligned with the Mission of the Institute.
At the last meeting of the International Council of Young Lasallians, based on the work done during the 3rd ISYL, along with the reports from the 45th General Chapter, the 2nd International Mission Assembly and the International Assembly of Young Brothers, four main areas of priority were determined. These are:
- Culture of Vocations A “Culture of Vocations” challenges and supports adolescents and young adults involved in the Mission to experience a journey filled with life to its fullest. It is a culture that factors in the multitude of options and vocational paths that young people have and places the individual at the center. Hence, the goal is to accompany young people in discovering their true calling and becoming the most authentic version of themselves in service to others.
- Service with the poor The poor are living images of Jesus Christ and they are living Good News for us. The word “with” implies a horizontal relationship that gives people we “serve” a name and makes them protagonists of their own stories of salvation. It offers dignity, voice, and empowerment, acknowledging we are in this together. This priority brings to life the desire of Young Lasallians to be agents of change actively engaged in the Lasallian Educational Mission.
- Communications and Networking : We want to develop a culture for sharing which empowers and inspires. It establishes a natural disposition towards communication that makes every Young Lasallian responsible for the promulgation of his or her good news. It is hoped that this will contribute to the building of a wider and deeper awareness of the bigger picture, a realization that indeed, we’re all part of something bigger, the Lasallian Family. For this to become a reality, one priority is to strengthen dialogue.
- Sustainable Organizational Growth We want to foster processes and strategies that promote sustainable organizational growth through self-sufficiency and accountability. It is our intention that projects, initiatives and efforts are supported by structures, policies and follow-up mechanisms that will ensure continuity in Lasallian initiatives for adolescents and young adults. This also encourages representation of Young Lasallians in structures across the Institute.
A little bit of history?
Even though many international gatherings were held in the previous decades, the Young Lasallians Movement really started in 2002, during the first International Colloquium of Young Lasallians in Quebec, Canada, in margin of the World Youth Day held in Toronto. Yanick Chamberland-Richer led 150 participants from all across the world through this gathering. It was as a result of this gathering that Brother Superior General, Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, called for the creation of the International Council of Young Lasallians.
The Council held its first meeting in 2003 and met at least once a year since then. Many initiatives were led by the Council, including the organization of the 2nd and 3rd International Symposium of Young Lasallians, held in 2006 and 2014. The position of International Coordinator for Young Lasallians was established in 2010, and became a paid position the following year.