By Brother Timothy Coldwell, FSC
November 1, 2019
Brother Robert Schieler, FSC, Superior General, beguns his pastoral visit to the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) on November 1, 2019. Montréal, Québec, a fitting starting point since it was there in 1837 that Brother Aidant and three Brothers established the first permanent foundation in North America. He will conclude the visit in Ocean City, New Jersey, in April of next year. Who and what will we find over the course of these coming months?
I have been pondering this question, one that I think is worthwhile for everyone. Brother Superior’s term is seven years long, and during that time he makes a formal visit to each of the five Regions in the Institute and Lasallian mission. Our Region is the fifth and final visit, so Brother Bob brings to this visit a deep understanding of our international nature and identity. He will be interacting with Brothers’ communities, volunteers, educational and spiritual centers, councils, associative groups. What signs of creativity will he see and what clues of vitality will he detect?
In my view, our Region is dynamic. The measure I like to use is creativity and vitality in our communities and ministries. One of the indelible signs of “creative vitality” is founding. St. John Baptist de La Salle’s charism was primarily a founding impulse—he founded the “Christian Schools,” and Brothers and communities to infuse them with living Gospel energy. Our Region is a 182-year story of founding, and only a book would do justice to the history … but I’d like to offer a short list to remind us of our dynamism.
Over 70 years ago, Saint Mary’s Press was founded; over 60 years ago, Christian Brothers Services was founded; over 50 years ago, Sangre de Cristo Renewal Center; over 40 years ago, Huether Lasallian Conference; over 30 years ago, Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies; almost 30 years ago, Lasallian Volunteers; and over 20 years ago, the school-to-school twinning program between RELAN and the District of Lwanga.
This list doesn’t include the growth of the mission at the District level, but I have no doubt that story will be told in all its inspirational detail during Brother Superior’s visit.
It’s relatively easy (and exciting) to tell the story of our Region’s creative vitality in statistics and data: 11,806 Lasallian educators and 576 Brothers; 7 colleges and universities, 64 elementary, middle and secondary schools; 11 educational centers; 8 youth and family services programs; and 4 support ministries.
But then there is the harder-to-tell story of the uncomplicated goodness of the Lasallian educator. And the story of the community who are living signs that God “so loves this world.” And the story of the kids and young adults who sometimes own nothing but the story of their life.
These are the stories that draw Brother Bob to RELAN. In short, he is coming to see each of us. May our welcome and hospitality make our story one that he will want to hear again and again.