*BEST OF DTB #264* The Catholic Defender: St. John La Lande

Posted by John Benko - July 28th, 2013

Recently, I was visiting family near Kansas City Missouri and so while I was there, I drove to Blue Springs Missouri to visit my old Catholic School that I attended in the 1960′s.

Schools out for the summer, but fortunately there were some people there that I was able to talk with and see the growth of the school.

The School really looks great and the Parish continues to grow.  This particular day there was a photographer taking pictures for the Parish directory.

As I walked around, I remembered who St. John La Lande was.  It was the summer of 1636 when French Jesuit missionary Father Isaac Jogues saw North America, the rock cliff of Quebec, for the first time from the sea.

Now, nearly 10 years later, Father Jogues was back to Quebec.  Standing right there besides him was 18 year old, St. John La Lande, who was very aware of the torture Father Jogues endured at the hands of the Mohawks in Quebec just 4 years earlier.

Fr. Jogues, John La Lande, and three Indians set out by canoe from Quebec on September 27, 1646 for the Mohawk village of Ossemenon.

Two of the Huron Indians accompanying the missionaries abandoned the party upon hearing that the Mohawks were once again on the warpath.

Once the missionaries had landed they were captured, stripped, beaten, and taken to the village where on October 17 strips of flesh were cut from Fr. Jogues’ neck and arms.

The natives blamed a chest of religious articles which Fr. Jogues had left in the village on a previous visit for an epidemic which had caused them to lose their corn crop.

While recovering from the wounds, Fr. Jogues was invited to a feast in one of the Indian lodges. As he entered the lodge he was struck by a tomahawk and killed.

He was then decapitated, and his body was dragged through the village.  John La Lande was held in another lodge and advised to remain inside.

However, intent on finding Fr. Jogues’ body, La Lande left the lodge and was tomahawked to death on October 19, 1646 by an Indian guard who had been set to watch the lodge.

Both Fr. Jogues and John La Lande were beatified by Pope Pius XI on June 21, 1925 and canonized on June 29, 1930. John La Lande’s feast day is October 19, the day he was martyred.

Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

How appropriate that this School is named for a young person who gave his life as an enduring witness for the Lord.

This picture is exactly as I remembered the School when I was here beginning in 1963.  It was interesting to note that the Parish School is celebrating their 50th anniversary since being established.

The celebration is set for 21 August 2013 beginning with a five mile fun run followed by Mass.  Then there will have a barbecue.  “We are spreading the word to former students, priests and nuns who were teachers when the school opened to get as many of them to come as possible,”  “We even have one family who has had children and grandchildren attend since the school opened. We are all very excited to celebrate the history of our school and where it will go in the future.”

I remember this painting when I was here at St. John La Lande so long ago!  I’ll never forget the Priests and lay volunteers who gave of themselves to make a difference in our lives growing up.  That is so important.  I treasure the opportunity to have played ball as a youth there.  Basketball, track, and football were important.  I played baseball locally through the Little League program in Blue Springs.  My Mother sacrificed a great deal for my Brother and I so that we would get a good Catholic education. 
I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk about the old days with some of the Parishioners taking pictures and staff members.  
Some of the statues were still here and that really was interesting to see.  They have built a new Church since when I was here.  I learned that some of the Nuns who were our teachers still lived in the area.   That was really interesting to me, but today the School is primarily run by civilians, lay people.  The days of the Nuns teaching here is a thing of the past.  I must of stayed there for nearly three hours talking to people and looking at the school.  There have been a lot of changes over the years, but there was enough of the old school that I was able to recognize so much of it. 
I would encourage you to consider sending your children to a Catholic School near you to give this kind of foundation.  “It is He whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” Colossians 1:28