Artwork Honors Chaminade Legacy
Lalanne community houses now have new artwork in their common space! An advisory board member asked whether our community houses had a common cross or statue, something to show connectedness to the Marianist family for teachers in Lalanne. This question prompted our request to Marianist Brother Charlie Wanda. Brother Charlie, an accomplished artist, created the image that depicts Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, one of the three Marianist founders, with the Lalanne logo.
Chaminade's Faith and Legacy
Brother Charlie’s new creation symbolizes Father Chaminade’s vision to form teachers who create faith-filled school environments in which students grow closer to Jesus. Chaminade had unshakeable faith and trust in God. He was inspired by Mary, who brought Christ into the world. It was her humble submission to do the will of God that gave energy to Chaminade and caused him to devote his life’s work to her cause, to continue to bring Christ into the world. Chaminade’s dream was to rechristianize France after the Revolution. As he prayed to make his dream come true, it became known to him that one way to do this would be to create a school with a religious environment. Chaminade believes, “Religion isn’t taught: it’s communicated.” Thus, he believed students would internalize faith from the positive atmosphere around them. To accomplish this, students would be taught in ways that included the practice of Gospel values.
Chaminade knew that the formation of teachers was the means to developing the required positive environment of faith. Teachers found the means to teach through the lens of faith as they lived in sodalities or communities with each other. Living together would help them understand their role of teaching as a ministry. Forming themselves in faith, they would be able to model the community spirit within their school and more deeply instill faith in the hearts of the students. A new community of faith would exist as faculty and students developed supportive relationships with each other. With the help of Fr. John Baptiste Lalanne, other religious men and women, and lay persons of all ages, Chaminade’s dream became reality.
In Lalanne, we strive to honor the legacy of Chaminade. Some 183 years later, our teacher service program named after Fr. Lalanne is living Chaminade’s dream. Teachers who choose to start their careers through Lalanne have the opportunity to grow in their personal relationships with God, come to understand their teaching as ministry, and live within a supportive faith-based community. When entered into fully, when faith is practiced daily and a teacher operates from faith first, what happens is described in one of Chaminade’s letters to a young teacher: “Then this spirit of faith will become in you a spirit of trust in God, a spirit of zeal, a spirit of strength, of generosity …” (Letter Feb. 26, 1864)
Chaminade's Vision Realized in Lalanne
To date, 132 teachers have been part of Lalanne. Ninety percent are still in the field of education, and of those, 90% continue to serve in Catholic schools. The firsts among our alumni have moved into administrative positions in schools as principals and assistant principals. Some run campus ministry or Catholic volunteer programs. Some have completed doctoral degrees, published articles in teaching journals, and many actively participate and have leadership roles in their home parishes or churches. Countless communities of faith have taken root from the first Lalanne community house established in 1999. Lalanne now serves four dioceses in six cities.
This past year, our cohort of 29 teachers served more than 2,050 students in grades K-12, in 24 schools. Letters of support from principals and superintendents told remarkable stories about our teachers:
- a first-year teacher who in teaching 7th grade helped start a new junior high at a school which had previously been K-6;
- a first-year teacher who changed the climate of the faculty lunchroom by suggesting teachers pray for the students they were complaining about and then leading the group in prayer;
- a first-year teacher who made coming to kindergarten so welcoming for a little boy that instead of fighting with his mom to get in the car every morning, he started placing his book bag in the car the night before;
- and, another first-year teacher whose high school science students were engaging in hands-on science labs and activities, for some the very first time in their school lives.
There were countless stories of second-year teachers with innovative lessons filled with technology and differentiation to help urban children living in poverty achieve and feel good about themselves. Lalanne teachers were willing to learn and teach about the Catholic faith and share their own faith journeys with students, staff, and parents alike. Communities of faith were renewed with the enthusiasm, youthfulness and optimism lived by our beginning teachers.
I could not be more proud or blessed to work with these young teachers. My prayer is that God grants us the grace and means to continue the work we do through Lalanne.
May the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.