From just a handful of Brothers in 1911, the Lasallian Brothers have successfully built a well-renowned institution and educated leaders in the course of 100 years.
The De La Salle Brothers is distributed among the different Lasallian academic institutions around the country and around the world. Serving as faculty members or administrators, the Lasallian Brothers are responsible for managing and leading the said institutions.
The La Salle Brothers in the Philippines is part of the Lasallian East Asia District (LEAD), which includes La Salle institutions from countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. A district is led by the Brother Visitor, as elected by its member countries. The LEAD’s incumbent Brother Visitor is former De La Salle Philippines (DLSP) President Br. Dodo Fernandez FSC
Each country is a sector, and is led by a sector head. Br. Ricky Laguda FSC, former DLSU chancellor, is the Philippine Sector Head. He is also the head of all 17 Lasallian schools included in DLSP.
The entire international community of Lasallian Brothers is headed by Superior General Br. Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria FSC. He is from Mexico, but currently resides in their headquarters in Rome.
Answering the Call
Given the responsibility that comes with being a Lasallian Brother, the process of joining the Brotherhood is tedious and specific.
Should an interested party express his intent to join the Brothers during his tertiary education years, he is first invited to familiarize himself with the community life of the Brothers. “Usually, he meets a Brother and then the young man is invited to spend a few days in the Brothers’ community, here at [DLSU or De La Salle Dasmarinas],” explains Br. Roly Dizon FSC.
If the interested party wants to continue the path of Brotherhood, he may choose to become an Aspirant and is then assigned to a Mentor, a full-fledged Brother, who will guide him through the process.
After he finishes his tertiary education, he undergoes the Postulancy program. “Here, he becomes a Postulant and tries to live the life of a Brother for one year,” explains De La Salle Canlubang (DLSC) Associate Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission Br. Richie Yap FSC. He continues, “As a Postulant, he will experience the daily routine of prayer, work, study, community living of the Brothers, guided by a Brother Director [in the community].”
Becoming a Novice is the last stage before becoming a Lasallian Brother. During this stage, he is granted only minimal contact with his family and other associates outside the Brotherhood. After the first year in the Novitiate, the interested party is given the opportunity to take his Vows.
Before joining the Brothers, interested parties must also pass certain IQ, psychological, and medical exams.
Of roles and responsibilities
Br. Richie explains that they have tried to assign roughly 25 percent of the Brothers to teach full-time, 50 percent to mid-level administrative positions, and 25 percent to the top institutional level positions in the different La Salle institutions.
When it comes to taking local positions outside the Lasallian community, such as teaching posts in other universities and taking consultancy jobs, a Brother must first get permission from their local Superior. When it comes to government positions, on the other hand, the Brother must secure permission from the Brother Visitor and the Superior General in Rome, the approval of the local Church and the Vatican.
Several Lasallian Brothers have held major government positions in the past. Br. Armin Luistro FSC is presently the secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), Br. Roly was the former Chair of the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) and the late Br. Andrew Gonzalez FSC was the former secretary of the then Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS)
“What we [Brothers] cannot accept are very political positions, [such as] we cannot run for office and be a mayor or a governor” Br. Roly adds.
The future begins here
There are currently more than 500 Lasallian Brothers all over the world. Many are less than 40 years of age. In the Philippines, Br. Roly reports that they already have 44 professed Brothers, 9 Novices, 9 Postulants and 54 Aspirants.
The number of Lasallian Brothers is increasing mostly in developing countries, says Br. Roly. “Surprisingly, there has been a resurgence in the interest of young men to join the Brothers in many countries,” shares Br. Richie.
The dangers of the dwindling number of Brothers are situated in developed countries where Br. Roly says, “understandably, as your country gets richer, [it] become more and more secular and materialistic – not a good climate for vocations.”