The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (also known as the Christian Brothers, the La Sallian Brothers, or the De La Salle Brothers, is a Catholic religious teaching congregation founded in France by Jean-Baptiste de La Salle and is based in Rome. The Brothers use the post-nominal abbreviation FSC to denote their membership of the order, and the honorific title Brother, abbreviated as Br.
In the website of De La Salle Philippines, it records the history of the brothers in the Philippines. It mentions that “ La Salle Brothers’ mission in the Philippines began in 1911, when the first group of foreign Brothers arrived in Manila. At first, people thought that the Brothers were like the Spanish friars of the conventions since they were men of God who taught the youth the basics of the Christian faith. But as people worked with the Brothers, they began to understand that the Brothers were not priests, but full-time religious educators who were inspired by the example of their founder, St. John Baptiste de La Salle and have consecrated their lives for the service of youth. If the Brothers then had been involved with priestly functions, the Brothers would not be able to totally dedicate their time to the young.
This is why, to this day, the Brothers remained to lay religiously completely devoted to the ministry of the religious education of youth. Although the Brother does not officiate in the Sacraments, it is the life of the young people that the Brother seeks to transform.
Through the school, the Brothers encourage the young Christian to develop his talents and abilities. Through the school, the Brothers help the young person acquire a zest for learning and living.”
Earlier this year, four young gentlemen took the leap of faith to join the slowly increasing number of La Salle Brothers in the Philippines by taking their vows as a La Salle Brother and added FSC at the end of their names.
Let’s meet Br. Kino Escolano FSC, Br. Ivan Karlo Umali FSC, Br. Jeanoel Endaya FSC, and Br. Mico de Leon FSC.
Br. Mico de Leon FSC was born in Paranaque but moved to Bulacan when he was little and studied at the Immaculate Heart of Merry in Bulacan. Franciscan School before moving to De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde to finish Business Administration Major in Human Resource Management, a course that will serve him well in dealing with the various people he will meet and work with every day from hereon.
Br. Kino Escolano FSC was originally from Quezon Province, Quezon, Quezon, Alabat Island, finished his undergraduate studies as an Electronic Communications Engineer in Quezon, Southern Luzon State University. After college, he started working as a college instructor for the next 3 years. Then Escolano decided to further his education by dropping everything, resign from his job, and moved to Manila to pursue his Master’s degree in DLSU in Engineering. “It took me 2 years to finish my masters. I was a full-time student while I was studying in DLSU”, he adds.
Br. Escolano further narrates “Then I met the brothers and then they recruited me, so I entered the postulancy as I was finishing my thesis defense. When I was in the postulancy, I was doing the revisions and I graduated masters while I was in the postulancy.
Br. Ivan Karlo Umali FSC on the other hand is an accountant. A BS in Accountancy graduate of De La Salle Lipa. Born and raised in Lipa City Batangas, Umali passed the CPA board exams and became a professional CPA in October 2014.
Similarly Br. Jeanoel Endaya FSC or simply called Br. Jeno is also from Lipa City Batangas. While he finished his secondary education at De La Salle Lipa, Endaya pursued his college education at the University of Sto. Tomas simply because it was less expensive than DLSU.
Leap of Faith
Committing the rest of your life to La Sallian mission is a major leap of faith. Each of these four new brothers has their own reasons for taking a leap.
Br. Jeno narrates that everything probably started in High School. “My involvement in High School in terms of Student Council Search In, and all of Student Council, Search In, and all those stuff and service-oriented organizations. And doon din ko nakita si Br. Aikee Herera, who recruited me. Actually by accident, because the person who was actually invited for the live-in was my close friend but then he back out the day before.
And then I bumped into Br. Aikee and he asked me if I wanted to and I said Ok, that’s free food for 4 days and we were graduating and then there was nothing to lose. But it’s really because of its a service-oriented organization prior to knowing the Brothers. I just know of them by sometimes we’d have courtesy calls, or we have talks with them. But I really didn’t see myself as someone becoming a Brother at that time.”
In the case of Br. Kino he mentions that ” When I was still studying in DLSU, during my first year, I didn’t know anything about the brothers. But then I was eventually recruited because one time I was attending a retreat of the graduate students and I decided not to go and I went to Henry Sy, in the library to study and then I saw a card there (in the CR) and written at the back was “Looking for the sign, this is the sign” and then I kept the card with me and its still with me right now.
After 2 months, I messaged Br. Alex on Twitter and I just asked him “what are the brothers?” And he didn’t answer my question and he just invited me and asked “Are you free next week?” He invited me for an interview like a casual conversation and then he explained to me what does the brother do and then he invited me if I wanted to join the live-in program in Taft. Then I saw that their ministry is teaching. Although I’m an Engineer, my profession is teaching so I was really attracted to the teaching profession.”
Br. Ivan also adds top Br. Kino’s experience. “We’re from the same school and I was also into service-oriented activities. But I was originally from a different high school and then I entered De La Salle Lipa.
But I met the Brothers because I was elected as class mayor during my second-year college and one of the tasks there is to check the daily bulletin and there was a vocation promotion announcing that there was a live-in program from one batch and I asked my classmate who was a graduate of La Salle Lipa during his High School, and I asked about it and I got curious. I asked Br. Aikee and he invited me for living in. Pero more on activities. In one of our apostolates, we had this project called “Sikat” where we teach apostolates for kids. So we really enjoyed that one and it encouraged me to join the aspirancy program of the Brothers.
While the live-in program was just a few days it took them a couple of months before they decided to take the plunge. In between, the Brothers regularly communicated with them.
Now that they have taken their first vow, what happens now?
Br. Kino explains, “for now we are called Scholasticates aka Studying Brothers. Our main focus is to study in DLSU for Theology and then we will take teaching professions in the third year. So for 2 years we study and study and we get exposures to the school before we get our assignments and regular community.
Br. Mico says that his “parents were very surprised but then they were very supportive of my decisions. During the novitiate, my family would always visit me every month”. He further adds, “my family travels all the way to Bulacan and walang palya dadalhin nila yung other relatives ko like my aunt, or my cousins.”
Br. Kino’s parents on the other hand were violently against me becoming a brother. My mother and my father didn’t want me to become a Brother”. ” I only have one sibling, a sister. So there goes our family home name. He adds that “My mother said they don’t want me to grow old alone. They wanted me to have a family, grandchildren. Until the very last week of the postulancy they were against the idea. Then the brothers invited all the parents to have meals here in the Brother’s house and in the car going back home then my mother said “Oh, matanda ka na, Alam mo na ang ginagawa mo” “Yan ang gusto mo and I will support you.”
“So that’s the time I felt the support from them. I think she was delighted when she saw the other Brothers. My mother was a public school teacher and there was a time I visited the school she was teaching in with Br. Armin and that was the time she met Br. Armin who went all the way to Quezon just to visit my province, my hometown. She was so happy and he was so happy. My mother didn’t recognize me as I was at the back.”
Br. Ivan perhaps summarizes their journey from their simple lives to the La Salle Brothers community with “My parents supported me in whatever decision I made”.
This article was originally published in Vol. 16 No. 3