Influencers: The Context for Saint John Baptist de la Salle
Every one of us is the result of a collection of relationships. Saint John Baptist de la Salle is no exception. From his good fortune of being born in a wealthy family which allowed him to be well educated, to is connection with people of faith and his study for a doctorate, Saint John Baptist de la Salle had a collection of influencers.
Of course in a spiritual sense, this is all the result of God’s providence. But still being surrounded by people who could build on the gifts of blessings he received, so that great things could happen depended upon his ability to respond to God’s grace to develop these gifts.
To be sure, the influencers he met after he was a priest were quite notable. Their was his cousin, Canon Pierre Dozet, who saw his talent, encouraged his becoming a priest, and resigned his position so John Baptist de la Salle could take it over.
During his time in Paris studying for a doctorate in Theology, he was under the influence of the Sulpicians, which served him well. Because of this, in some ways he became very acquainted to the spirituality of the day.
After the death of his parents, he encountered Nicolas Roland, a priest, and Adrien Nyel, a layman, who introduced him to the plight of educating the poor. This experience of meeting Roland and Nyel was a moment of conversion for De La Salle. This turned his attention to the plight of the education of the poor.
And so in the life of De La Salle, the Providence of God made possible the community of people who had a profound impact on his life. And his encounters with these people was an encounter with the entire Church. It involved priests, religious and lay people. In there own way the shaped the life of De La Salle.
Questions to Ponder
When you consider how your arrived at your present job and ministry, who are the people who helped you to arrive at this moment?
It is easy to see the actions of God’s providence in the life of De La Salle. As you look back on your life, in what ways has God been present at key moments?
Roland and Nyel become those who turn the attention from De La Salle from his path as a priest, most likely a life of prestige, to the founder of a religious community, educating the poor and developing pedagogy for teachers. Who is one or two persons that provided such a conversion for you?