Monument Encourages All to Embrace ‘The Encounter’

New Monument Encourages Visitors to Embrace ‘The Encounter’ in Their Own Lives

Published: October 7, 2019.

A chance encounter with an acquaintance in 1679 France led Saint John Baptist de La Salle to a period of great discernment about his vocation and purpose in life. That led to his legacy as the founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and patron saint of educators, which is thriving around the world as well as at Lewis University in Romeoville.

The Lasallian university dedicated a new monument depicting “The Encounter” on September 24 as part of the global 300th-anniversary celebration of the death of De La Salle. A crowd of over 150 students, faculty, staff, Christian Brothers and other friends of the university gathered for the blessing and dedication of the monument, which features a 16-foot tall re-creation of the entrance to the convent of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus in Rheims, France, and features a one-of-a-kind, life-sized statue of De La Salle created by Minneapolis-based sculptor Alec Smith. Among those gathered were the monument benefactors Jay and Lori Bergman of Joliet.

The Encounter depicts the moment when De La Salle met the layman and educator named Adrien Nyel. Lasallian scholars argue that his unplanned meeting changed De La Salle’s life from one of wealth and prestige in the Catholic Church to a life dedicated to the education of poor children and founding a lay religious order of men and training them to be teachers. The monument is meant to invite Lewis students and others to walk through the doorway and to reflect on their own purpose in life and that chance encounters could lead to a broader impact on others.

Lewis University is an innovative and forward-thinking Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit for further information.

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