Manhattan College is a Lasallian educational institution founded in 1853 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, a Catholic religious teaching order started by Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the patron saint of teachers. De La Salle is known as the innovator of modern pedagogy for his work establishing schools to educate disadvantaged children in 17th century France.
De La Salle was a man who could have lived a comfortable life of relative ease among the wealthy elites of his time, had he chosen to do so. He came from a family of considerable wealth — his mother was a Moët, the well-off family that to this day operates the prestigious champagne business. He was an exquisitely educated man, a holder of a doctoral degree and an ordained priest in possession of a prime appointment, as canon of the Cathedral of Reims. Responding to a pressing need of his time, however, De La Salle found himself called to pour out his talents and his life serving others, specifically the children of the poor, who because of lack of access to education were condemned to lives of suffering and exploitation.
Much to the dismay of his family and of those who believed that the work he adopted was beneath his dignity and station, De La Salle set himself on a course that would involve successive divestments of the trappings of his station and privilege. In the end, he became a poor man among the poor, living in the midst of the same uncertainties that constituted the daily lot of his pupils, and devoting himself utterly to the work to which he was called. That work, at its root, was ministering in love to his teachers (his Brothers) and their students, touching the minds and hearts of those students so that they might be led to a better, more abundant, more productive and more purposeful life.
De La Salle’s commitment to education as a means to lift the disadvantaged out of a life of poverty has transformed the lives of generation after generation of students. It is upon this commitment to education, to generosity of spirit, and of the power of education to change lives, that we build our Lasallian community.
Lasallian educators are committed to adhering to the five core principles set forth by De La Salle: