Lasallian Mission

The Vision Began with Saint John Baptist De La Salle 

De La Salle, the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and the patron saint of educators, believed that education should be relevant, accessible, and affordable. Saint Mary’s believes that too. 

It would have been impossible for a 17th-century man who never once ventured from his native France to predict the worldwide educational network now built upon his foundation—or to foresee that many of the visionary teaching principles that he and the early Brothers established would be considered common today. 

Together and by association for more than 80 years, the De La Salle Christian Brothers— in dedicated partnership with a large community of lay people— have enhanced learning at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and furthered its strong educational mission. 

Throughout the university’s history, hundreds of Brothers have worked at Saint Mary’s. Some names, like those of the De La Salle Christian Brother presidents, will forever be remembered for their leadership and guidance. Many De La Salle Christian Brother educators have become legends, not only for their dedicated teaching skills and their lengthy tenures but also for their strength of character and inspirational vision. 

The face of Saint Mary’s has changed through the years. Where many De La Salle Christian Brothers once filled the classrooms and offices, a much smaller number serve today. But the legacy handed down more than 300 years ago by Saint John Baptist de La Salle and the De La Salle Christian Brothers continues to thrive. 

This vital charism—the gift of De La Salle and his Brothers to Church and society—is evident in so many aspects of the work being done at Saint Mary’s. The Lasallian spirit is enriched by a faith-filled community of employees, who devotedly share the important work of educating and preparing tomorrow’s ethical leaders.


Strengthening By A Global Network Of Educators Shaping The Future Of Education 

Saint Mary’s is a Lasallian Catholic university that prepares its graduates with a distinctive identity in fidelity to the Church’s mission in service of the Good News of the Gospel, and a world vision rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition. Our excellent education prepares graduates to live ethical lives of service and leadership and inspires in them—in the tradition of the De La Salle Christian Brothers—a profound reverence for all human life, a desire to protect the vulnerable, and a commitment to serve the common good.

Saint Mary’s is part of a bigger picture including nearly 5,000 De La Salle Christian Brothers around the world with 80,000 colleagues. Together they are engaged in the Lasallian educational mission to nearly 900,000 students in about 1,000 educational ministries located in 80 countries. Today, the Lasallian global network, the ongoing realization of De La Salle’s tradition and spirit, is thriving worldwide.

Here in the U.S.A. there are 93 Lasallian educational institutions, including six Lasallian colleges and universities. 
Faculty, staff, and students at Saint Mary’s participate in internal and external Lasallian formation opportunities around the globe, coming together in thought, prayer and reflection, community, and scholarship, exchanging ideas and unifying their work as part of this bigger picture. The Saint Mary’s mission, and the mission of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, continues to grow and thrive as it is transmitted from vowed religious to lay partners.


A Renewed Purpose And A New Perspective To Our Mission And Work At Saint Mary’s

Lasallian Formation Opportunities range from two-day retreats to two-week seminars to programs that run for three consecutive summers. Participants can take part in opportunities at the Winona and Twin Cities campuses, but may also travel to Illinois, California, and Rome, where they can collaborate and exchange ideas with colleagues from Lasallian partner schools. 

Additionally, a number of internationally renowned Lasallian educators and leaders are brought to our campuses to speak to groups. Catholic scholars are invited to address our university community on the richness of the Catholic intellectual tradition. And, each year, more than 100 Lasallians from around the world gather each fall at Saint Mary’s for the annual International Lasallian Research Symposium. 

The word “transformational” is frequently used when participants look back on their formation experiences. Funding these opportunities is funding the future of Saint Mary’s. 

The Lasallian Formation Initiative provides resources and education for faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends to engage in our Lasallian association, keeping the spiritual life and legacy of De La Salle alive for new generations of learners.


Become A Part Of The Legacy

Saint John Baptist de La Salle was committed to Christian education. He strongly believed that education was a means to a better life, here on this world and in the next. 

He also believed that teachers needed to meet each individual student at their level and lift them— through relevant and innovative coursework—to new levels. Today, our foundational, centuries-old Lasallian beliefs make a Saint Mary’s education more relevant and more important than ever. It’s why we’re launching the “Discover, Inspire, Lead” campaign to assure that we can continue to discover the truths in the world around us and develop the character within us. We invite you to join us and help provide the resources necessary to make our timeless values relevant for new generations.