Lasallians Celebrate a Decade of Association and 300 Years of Mission

On Nov. 8, more than 5,000 Lasallian educators and Christian Brothers from 35 ministries across eastern North America gathered together, in person and virtually, to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Lasallian mission and to commemorate a decade of working together as a single network of educators. 
For the past 10 years, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, along with their Lasallian partners, have provided a human and Christian education to more than 14,000 students and their families as one geographic network: the District of Eastern North America (DENA). From Warren, MI, to Providence, RI, and from Boca Raton, FL, to Washington, DC, and Toronto, Canada, Lasallian educators and De La Salle Christian Brothers have engaged in the vocation of education, especially to the poor and disadvantaged. 
 
Together, and by association, this network of educators celebrated a decade of mission as DENA, which was formed Sept. 9, 2009. At 10 different gatherings in cities throughout DENA’s geographic expanse, Lasallians celebrated their accomplishments, while acknowledging that there is more to be done to serve the most vulnerable young people in our society.
 
St. John’s hosted one gathering, and more than 300 Lasallian educators and Christian Brothers from Calvert Hall College High School, San Miguel School, La Salle Hall and the Christian Brothers Conference Office of North America (RELAN) joined the SJC community on campus for this special event. 
 
Following breakfast and registration in Cassidy Commons, participants were welcomed by Director of Mission Integration Tom Sipowicz and led in prayer by Sr. Anne Mary Smith, IHM, in Frana Auditorium. Then, via livestream from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Bro. Dennis Lee introduced Superior General Bro. Robert Schieler, FSC, the leader of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, which sponsors ministries and other educational programs in more than 80 countries worldwide, including DENA.
 
Bro. Robert called on all of DENA’s Lasallians to reflect on their vocation as educators as part of this Jubilee Year, so designated by Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, and highlighted the importance of association for mission. He emphasized that “Lasallian association for the human and Christian education is part of our DNA, our Lasallian story and our charism…Why association? Because it was and is only by being together for a project that we can manage to change a situation for the better. Together we can do more than doing something by ourselves.” 
 
After the keynote presentation, attendees broke into 28 groups for discussion and reflection on the superior general’s message and the example of founder St. John Baptist de La Salle, the Patron Saint of Teachers. De La Salle handed on the mission to his first Christian Brothers upon his passing into eternal life 300 years ago. As part of this celebration, Christian Brothers and Lasallian partners shared their experiences as educators with one another and began planning how best to go beyond today’s figurative and literal borders to serve poor and marginalized young people.
 
Following the breakout sessions, celebrants reconvened for a question-and-answer session with Bro. Robert and closing remarks from District Representative Bro. Lawrence Goyette. The assembly then celebrated DENA’s 10th anniversary, the 300th anniversary of St. John Baptist de La Salle’s entry into eternal life and the closing of the Year of Lasallian Vocations, “One Heart, One Commitment, One Life.” The event ended with lunch and fellowship. 
 
“It was a great day for all of the local Lasallian ministries to come together and celebrate our common mission. We were reminded that our 300-year heritage, started by John Baptist de La Salle, has a timeless relevance and impact, touching the hearts of students on the path to becoming faithful adults who understand their responsibility to the world,” said Sipowicz.
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