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The Journey of the Cuban De La Salle Brothers


In May 1961, more than a hundred De La Salle Brothers boarded a plane and departed Cuba, shortly after all private schools had been nationalized by the Revolutionary government. Members of a Catholic congregation dedicated to teaching, the Brothers experienced not only this dramatic departure but would face many other changes over the course of the 1960s.

Through a series of audio stories, this project traces how they left Cuba, founded new institutions in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico during a period of Cold War political tensions and change within the Catholic Church, and ultimately returned to Cuba with a new sense of their mission.

This is a work of collective memory created from interviews about how those who experienced these events remember and interpret them and how they were personally affected. It expresses a particular perspective, primarily from within a narrowly defined community, on historical events of great importance. Inevitably, the story it tells is partial and fragmented, like memory itself.


The Brothers take a vow of association for the service of the poor through education. We asked Brothers and former Brothers what this meant to them in the context of Cuba and the Dominican Republic in the 1960s.


In the response to the events of these years, some men chose to remain Brothers, others chose to leave the congregation. This video explores why.

Leaving Cuba

From 1959 through 1961, conflict between church and state grew in revolutionary Cuba. Here, interviewees discuss what led to the Brothers decision to leave the country.

Re-founding the District in the Dominican Republic

Beginning in 1962, the Brothers worked to rebuild the District of the Antilles with the Dominican Republic as its center. This is the story of how political polarization and changes within the Church contributed to conflict and transformation in the Brothers practices.

The Return To Cuba

Many Brothers hoped for a return to Cuba, but this meant responding to the changes in Cuba and within the congregation itself.

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