The recently re-issued movie, Saint John Baptist De La Salle: Patron Saint of Teachers, is a marvelous movie to watch for Family Movie Night. Starring Mel Ferrer as De La Salle and Fernando Rey as one of his young recruits, the movie is a wonderful overview of De La Salle’s life from being named canon at the Cathedral in Rheims at the age of 28 to establishing the Brothers of Christian Schools at 41 and then dying at the age of 68, having established Christian Brother schools throughout France.
De La Salle was from a wealthy French family, orphaned in the midst of attending seminary. As the eldest, De La Salle was made executor of his father’s estate and guardian of his younger brothers and sisters. The movie opens with him and his family in their lavish home and a layman asking him to help set up a school for the poor in Rhiems. As De La Salle commits more and more of his own personal resources to helping educate the poor (as well as teaching teachers to be teachers), he begins to move from being a Courtier Churchman to being a helper of all, educating the poor and rich alike. Once he starts on this path, he never looks back!