Brothers Robert Schieler, Superior General, and Paulo Petry, Councillor for the Lasallian Region of Latin America, came to the District of Antilles – South Mexico for the canonical visit. This visit is made every 7 years, and the aim is to enable the Brother Superior to get to know the Institute as it is in the District in terms of the Brothers and their Lasallian colleagues, and to see some of the establishments and the mission we are carrying out in the name of the Church. They came as pilgrims and witnesses to unity and hope, in order to inspire, redirect or correct anything they think the District needs to attend to.
The District Council had been planning this visit for the past two years, in line with the wishes of the General Council. They selected the Communities and establishments to be visited so as to give the Brother and the Regional Councillor an idea of the way in which we Lasallians are carrying out our service of education and evangelisation of the poor in this part of the world and the Institute.
The visit took place in November (from the 4th to the 17th and on the 30th), and the Superior met the Brothers, people in formation, pupils, teachers, parents, and the Guadalupana Sisters. They went to the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Mexico South and Homestead.
They arrived here straight after their visit to the District of Brazil-Chile, and they began their visit to our District in Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic.
In the Dominican Republic, Brother Superior met students and teachers, parents and former pupils. He experienced school life and the world of education in the Dominican Republic, through face to face encounters, messages, singing, hugs and handshakes, very much in the style of the Brothers. The meeting included earnest discussions on topics such as prayer, interior life and the Community life of the Brothers. They also discussed care for migrants, the possibility of inter-Congregational action, authenticity of life, co-responsability in the mission, the spirituality of the apostolate, schools as theological places, personal and Community projects, association and the need for conversion and radicality, continuity and innovation, alternative options for the Lasallian presence in the Dominican Republic etc.
The next destination for Brothers Robert Schieler and Paulo Petry, was Haiti, a country in which Lasallian life is showed itself in a most attractive light and where pupils and teachers sang songs to the Founder with great enthusiasm in a celebration that made them feel at home in spite of the countries great difficulties. The visit of Brother Robert brought a feeling of hope, and it is something he will always remember for his travels by boat and car and for the enjoyable relationships he experienced in music and dance. He met with children, teachers, Sisters and Brothers. He saw the educational establishments on the island of Tortuga and in Puerto de Paz. He left Haiti with countless feelings and thoughts in mind and heart about the great way in which the love of God is shown in the Lasallian service to the poor, expressed in prayers of praise and intercession.
Brother Superior moved on to Cuba for a visit which had a very special flavour to it, because after 58 years there was another ceremony of perpetual profession by two Cuban Brothers, Asquilis and David. It was an inter-Congregational celebration for the whole Church, which took place in the chapel of the Passionist Sisters. Religious from the whole of Cuba gathered around the altar with priests and laity to celebrate this witness to faith and hope as a leaven to ferment the work for God’s Kingdom in Cuba. It was attended by Religious men and women, Young Lasallians, teachers and staff of the Centro La Salle in Habana, accompanied by former pupils, friends and parishioners.
After his stay in Cuba, Brother Robert travelled to Mexico. He began his visit in Cancún, where he met the Rectors of the Lasallian Universities in Mexico. Discussions with them included, among other things, the uses of communication technology, its impact and social responsabilities, the role of women, the experience of the recent Synod on Young People and the Faith, the need for research into the contribution made by Catholic schools to world education. Here he also met students, teachers and parents.
From there, he travelled to Mexico City where he met the children of the Internado Infantil Guadalupano and the Guadalupana Sisters. In every city he visited, without fail, there were ceremonies of rejoicing and thanksgiving for his visit, and they all showed elements of local culture.
From Mexico City, Brothers Robert and Paulo went to the Zona de Bajío, where they met the educational communities of La Piedad, San Juan del Río and the Universidad De La Salle Bajío. The 50th anniversary of the university was celebrated at the same time.
For the District of Antilles – South Mexico, this pastoral visit of Brother Superior brought a bright beam of light and was full of significance. As the time drew near for the end of the visit, they met with the whole Lasallian community to mark the beginning of Jubilee Year with a solemn Mass at which the Superior spoke and gave a message to the District. His visit is will most surely leave its marks.
Many thanks, Brother Bob, for your smile, your approachability, simplicity and fraternity. Many thanks, Brother Paulo, for your cheerfulness, availability and devotedness.
May Jesus bless us. May the Virgin Mary accompany us. May St Jean-Baptiste de La Salle smile on us.