15 May - St John Baptist De La Salle. NATIONAL CATHOLIC AGENCY SCHOOL DAY FOR PAPUA NEW GUINEA
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands approved a resolution on 24 April making the feast of St. John Baptist De La Salle on 15 May every year a Catholic Agency School Day. St. John Baptist De La Salle is the patron saint of school teachers worldwide.
He was born in Reims, France in 1651. He became a priest and then was requested to open a free school for the poor in his city. Later on he decided to open his own house for the training of teachers. By 1684 he had donated all his worldly goods and dedicated the remainder of his life to education. In May of the same year, he and twelve others formed themselves into a community, taking vows and adopting the name of Brothers of the Christian Schools. He opened four more schools and several training colleges for teachers. He died on April 7, 1719 and was declared a saint in 1900 and patron saint of school teachers in 1950.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools (or Lasallians) serve now in 84 countries. They came to Papua New Guinea in 1946. At present they run the Hohola Youth Development Center in Port Moresby, the Mainohana Secondary School in Central province and they teach at the Holy Trinity Teachers College in Mt Hagen.
The celebration of the National Catholic Agency School Day every year will help strengthening the Catholic identity of Church schools in the country. It will not be a day of holiday, but student and teachers will organize religious, social and educational activities in their respective schools.
The date of 15 May has been chosen because the liturgical feast of St John Baptist de La Salle falls on the anniversary of his death on 7 April, which frequently coincides with the Holy Week and is a time of closure for schools.