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Commemorating an ‘act of love’ towards the Lasallian Brothers

Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, to unveil plaque on 50th anniversary of monument in honour of St John Baptist de la Salle during his first pastoral visit to Malta

The monument dedicated to St John Baptist De La Salle, the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, being unveiled by Bro Charles Henry Buttimer FSC, Superior General, in 1967.The monument dedicated to St John Baptist De La Salle, the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, being unveiled by Bro Charles Henry Buttimer FSC, Superior General, in 1967.

Fifty years ago, students at De La Salle College, who were preparing to enter HM Dockyard, thought of honouring the patron saint of their Alma Mater in a most fitting and original way.

They resolved to donate their first weekly salary towards the erection of a statue of the saint if they were successful in their Dockyard entrance examination.

Their proposal was met with general approval and thus, between 1951 and 1959, about 450 grateful dockyard apprentices generously contributed the sum of £860 to a special fund.

The students sought the advice of Emvin Cremona. The renowned artist suggested that the monument should consist of a full-length portrait of the founder in colourful mosaic which would be both original and impressive.

On May 23, 1967, Bro Charles Henry Buttimer FSC, superior general (1966-1976), started a pastoral visit in Malta. Three days later was D-Day for De La Salle College.

In the presence of 800 people, among whom were the highest ecclesiastical authorities, government ministers, members of the diplomatic corps, many parents and relatives of the Brothers and a host of Old Lasallians, the Superior General unveiled the monument of St John Baptist De la Salle.

Mgr Michael Gonzi, the Archbishop of Malta, blessed this act of love towards the Brothers.

The monument, which lends an aura of majesty to the equally impressive entrance to De La Salle College, stands on a circular base, in the centre of which rises a concrete column.

The side facing the college drive is covered with mosaic and represents St John Baptist De la Salle.

He is seen holding an open book with the words In Pvero Spes (there is hope in youth). On his left, there are two apprentices: one with his eyes raised to the founder while the other is observing four tools and symbols – a hammer, a set square, a lightning bolt and a cogwheel – all representing the various trades practised at the dockyard.

The elongated figures, made up of some 100,000 pieces of mosaic, blend together into 120 colourful hues and combine to create an atmosphere of splendour which never fails to affect onlookers. This especially happens when the rays of sunset strike as evening falls.

The monument echoes the founder’s delicate work of art, that is, the moulding of a child’s soul

This mosaic work was executed by Ferrari e Bacci of Lucca, Italy.   Through this monument, not only have the past students of the college honoured their patron’s memory and embellished the grounds of the college, but they also have enriched their island with a work of national importance. Certainly, it echoes the founder’s delicate work of art, that is, the moulding of a child’s soul.

Those who were fired by this ideal and followed his example did not spare themselves.

Stella Maris College, GŻiraStella Maris College, GŻira

A plaque will be unveiled to commemorate the 50th anniversary of this monument by Bro Robert Schieler, FSC, superior general of the Institute of the De La Salle Brothers, who yesterday initiated his first pastoral visit to Malta.

The island forms part of the Relem Lasallian region comprising 22 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean.

Bro Schieler is the 27th successor of St John Baptist De La Salle, who founded the order in 17th century France. He now leads the Catholic Church’s largest order of religious Brothers dedicated to education.

De La Salle College, VittoriosaDe La Salle College, Vittoriosa

During this pastoral visit to Malta, the Brother will be meeting various members of the Maltese Lasallian family, which include the local Signum Fidei group, the Lasallian Educational Council and the Parents Teachers Association, at the La Salle Retreat Centre, Mellieħa.

He will also have the opportunity to visit and meet the teaching staff and students of the three Lasallian schools in Malta, namely St Benild School, Stella Maris College and De La Salle College.

He will be accompanied by Brother visitor Laurence Hughes FSC, provincial for the District of Ireland, Great Britain and Malta, by Bro Aidan Kilty FSC, General Councillor with special responsibilities for Europe and the Mediterranean, and by Bro Martin Borg FSC, head of the Malta sector.

About Brother Robert Schieler

Bro Robert Schieler was born in 1950 in the city of Philadelphia, the US.

He was first introduced to the Brothers as a student at West Catholic Boys High School (now West Catholic Preparatory High School), Philadelphia. He took the habit on September 1, 1968, in Ammendale, Maryland and professed his final vows in 1979.

He holds master’s degrees in European history (University of Notre Dame) and in Asian studies (University of the Philippines), as well as a doctorate in educational administration (University of Pennsylvania).

From 1991 to 1998 he was auxiliary visitor of the district of Baltimore. He served as director of education for the Brothers’ US-Toronto region from 1998 to 2001, was visitor of the Baltimore district from 2001 to 2007 and in 2007 was elected as general councillor for the Lasallian region of North America (Relan) in Washington, DC.

A missionary to the Philippines for 13 years, he served in a variety of administrative positions from assistant principal to superintendent of schools.

Bro Schieler was elected superior general of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools during the order’s 45th General Chapter held in Rome on May 20, 2014. He follows Bro Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, FSC, who served as superior general for 14 years.

He is the third American Brother to serve as superior general. Bro Charles Henry Buttimer, FSC, became the first American superior general in 1966. Bro John Johnston, FSC, became the second in 1986.

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