Lewis University Hosts Lasallian Mission Congress III

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Lewis University hosted the Midwest District’s Lasallian Mission Congress III from July 18-20, 2018. Representatives from each of the District’s ministries, along with the members of the District and Lasallian Mission Councils, met to create directional statements for the incoming new Visitor and his Leadership Team. The fifty-two delegates, of which fourteen were Brothers, were welcomed on Wednesday evening by Brother Robert Schieler, Superior General, Dr. David Livingston, President of Lewis University, Brother Larry Schatz, Visitor, Dr. Sue Skinner, Chair of Lasallian Mission Council, Dr. Scott Kier, Superintendent of Lasallian Education and Charlie Legendre, AFSC, who served as the Facilitator of the Congress. Thursday morning, Brother Tim Coldwell, RELAN General Councilor, provided a keynote to the delegates, about the “Lasallian movement because it captures the dynamism of what we are living…The Brothers and the District used to be more or less synonymous; now, District is everyone contributing to this mission. It’s encouraging and challenging at the same time.”
Using the information gathered from the 2017 District Assembly, the Planning Committee (Ann Merchlewitz, Saint Mary’s University, Brother Chris Englert, Brother Chuck Gregor, Sue Skinner, Brother Larry and Scott) surveyed the members of the District ministries of the focus areas for the Congress. These were:
I. Service to and accompaniment of youth, especially the poor, in contemporary culture
Rationale for consideration: The Lasallian mission calls us to meet the needs of the young people entrusted to our care, especially the poor. Today our young people confront a disquieting, turbulent and increasingly secular world. How are we Lasallians addressing the real educational and spiritual needs of those entrusted to us? The task of “accompaniment” emerged in the documents of the 45th General Chapter as a prime responsibility of Brothers and Partners. Whether in mission formation programs of Lasallian colleagues, in the initial formation of Brothers, or in the vocation discernment and faith formation programs for youth, the General Chapter calls us to “accompany,” that is, share life’s journey with those with whom we work and teach.
II. Structures of association necessary to sustain the viability and vitality of the Lasallian mission
Rationale for consideration: The Brothers looked ahead when embracing a vision of “shared mission.” As the numbers of Brothers available for leadership continues to diminish, the question of structures to sustain the mission becomes more pressing. A discussion of “structures” includes the question of inclusive decision-making bodies, formal states of association, and the limitations and possibilities for the future of Districts and Regions.
III. Continuing formation and leadership development to provide long-term stability for our ministries
Rationale for consideration: At nearly every Lasallian deliberative gathering of the last 30 years, the need for formation in the Lasallian charism and mission has been held up as a foundation for sustaining the mission. In the 45th General Chapter, the Brothers further challenged the Lasallian family to provide “formation for all.” Implicit in these calls formation is the belief that the Lasallian mission is incarnated through the Spirit in individuals supported by a community. Whatever one’s role in our educational mission, the work must be rooted in relationship with God, with the life and vision of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, and with a community bound together in the Founder’s charism.
Within the broad formational needs of the Lasallian family is the more particular need to identify and form women and men to lead our ministries. On the local level, the survival of the Lasallian mission depends upon a critical mass of the community who understand and have internalized the charism in their own lives and in leaders who are Lasallian visionaries.
All day Thursday, the delegates met in groups of 6-7 members to discuss these focus areas as a prelude to coming back together in affinity groups on Friday to develop direction statements. The directional statements adopted by the delegates are:
I. Service to and accompaniment of youth, especially the poor, in contemporary culture.
All within our ministries must be invited to grow in a deeper understanding of youth, especially the poor, and the issues they face within our contemporary culture.
Therefore, being led by Gospel and Lasallian values, we commit to accompany youth in the effort to eradicate poverty.
II. Structures of association necessary to sustain the viability and vitality of the Lasallian mission.
It is critical for Lasallians to recognize both the dynamics of the mission and the continued need to sustain those who serve that mission.
Enlivened by our charism we invite existing and new Lasallians, both Brothers and partners, to take an active role in ensuring the vitality of the mission. The work is ours!
Therefore, we commit to empowering Lasallians to: strengthen the structures of association that currently exist; create structures of association for individuals; formalize structures of association for ministries. 
III. Continuing formation and leadership development to provide long-term stability for our ministries
In a spirit of gratitude for the tradition of the Lasallian charism that calls forth the commitment to ongoing formation and transformation, we recommend that all who commit to this charism engage in timely and relevant formation opportunities.
It is the desire of the De La Salle Christian Brothers and the Lasallian family to instill the charism of St. John Baptist De La Salle in the diverse associations of the Institute.  Formation opportunities that are respectful of time, resources, location and the desire to build an authentic Lasallian community must be considered.  There is an urgent need to develop new leaders.  We acknowledge the essential role that our boards, presidents and principals play in the direction of our ministries.  We recommend that a particular emphasis be placed on formation for these individuals. 
Therefore we commit to envision, deploy, refine and require ongoing Lasallian formation and leadership development which ensures that the vibrant charism and teaching mission of our Founder are embodied in all constituents.
The Planning Committee will be meeting prior to the joint meeting of the District Council and Lasallian Mission Council in September to propose next steps. More information will be provided after this meeting.
Story contributed by Dr. Scott Kier, Superintendent of Lasallian Education
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