The Days are Flying by…

The days are flying by here at the conference in Rome. The international community has been fantastic. The food in Europe has no calories – it can’t because it seems we are constantly being fed. Today’s presentations asked us to look at the current reality of our world and how the global situation impacts the kind of formation we provide our teachers and how we structure our curricula. Dr. Quebengco, from the Philippines, presented us with many ideas. Here are just a couple that I extracted from her talk. We might ask, if our schools are about salvation – how might we define that?

Superior General Br. Robert Schieler specifies what we as role models should be, as credible promoters of our Lasallian mission to those entrusted to our care… “to be human amidst a world that is increasingly indifferent at best and hostile at worst to the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in our midst.” Br. Antonio Botana identified what he calls the three pillars that should be present for a ministry to be Lasallian:

1. A certain style of educator – one who lives interiorly (from his spirit) in God’s presence… dedicates his body and soul to education… fraternal relationship with his students2. A certain style of educational community – guarantor of the educational project, community as teacher of the educators, community as sign of Christian fraternity thru the relationships of its members3. A certain style of educational ministry – tailored to the poor, quality pedagogy which educates in a Christian manner.

In more contemporary and integrated terms, Br. Luke Salm states that “St. La Salle insisted that his schools be of quality, with a person centered learning environment, providing opportunities for a smooth entry into a larger society through productive careers.” The students should be led to address four major concerns:

1. Major questions concerning the meaning of their existence
2. Recognize the seeds of destruction in society and themselves
3. Become aware of the major inequities in social and political life; and
4. Appreciate the futility of a life centered on pleasure, wealth, and power

-Br. Mike

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High Mass

Yesterday was the culmination of a weekend of celebration for the canonization of St. Solomon. The statue of St. Solomon in the foyer of the Generalate was blessed and it was followed by a high mass celebrated by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. A grand celebration was conducted afterwards, including pizza from a pizzeria in Naples (alas no photos because it was so good and I didn’t remember to take pictures).  What follows are several pictures from the mass and the Generalate.

Announcement of the Mass.

Announcement of the Mass.

Banner of St Solomon outside the Generalate.

Banner of St Solomon outside the Generalate.

Statue of St Solomon in the Generalate foyer updated to announce his Sainthood.

Statue of St Solomon in the Generalate foyer updated to announce his Sainthood.

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The chapel at the Generalate prior to the mass beginning.

The chapel at the Generalate prior to the mass beginning.

Cardinal Parolin delivering the homily.

Cardinal Parolin delivering the homily.

The program for the mass and a keepsake from the Province of France.

The program for the mass and a keepsake from the Province of France.

The Superior General, Brother Robert, and myself after the mass.

The Superior General, Brother Robert, and myself after the mass.

It has been a remarkable experience and one I will never forget.

-Scott Kier

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St Solomon

Today was a special day for all Lasallians around the world. Blessed Solomon (Nicholas) Leclerq was canonized by Pope Francis to be enrolled “among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church”. His life and hid sacrifice for the Church is something from which we can all take a lesson.  It was truly a special and wonderful day and I hope these pictures capture what was felt in St Peter’s Square on a sun filled Sunday morning.

 

Blessed Solomon was one of seven inviduals being canonized today.

Blessed Solomon was one of seven inviduals being canonized today.

Some of the items we received as part of the representation of the Midwest District.

Some of the items we received as part of the representation of the Midwest District.

Arriving in St Peter's square approximately three hours before the start.

Arriving in St Peter’s square approximately three hours before the start.

Another early view of the Square.

Another early view of the Square.

Crowd is filling in prior to the mass.

Crowd is filling in prior to the mass.

Pope Francis has started the mass

Pope Francis has started the mass

St Solomon is now a Saint. His picture is in the center of the Basilica. The young girl who was cured through the intercession of Blessed Solomon has placed a relic on the altar.

Blessed Solomon is now a Saint. His picture is in the center of the Basilica. The young girl who was cured through the intercession of Blessed Solomon has placed a relic on the altar.

The tremendous coursed this morning.

The tremendous crowd his morning.

Pope Francis after the mass.

Pope Francis after the mass.

Today was a truly special day with the canonization and a reception back at the Generalate. We we were able to meet the girl who was cured by Solomon and made him a saint.

Sunset over the chapel at the Generalate

Sunset over the chapel at the Generalate

Full moon rising over St Peter's

Full moon rising over St Peter’s

Your hosts: Scott Kier, Brother Micheal Fehrenbach and Maryann Donohue-Lynch (DENA)

Your hosts: Scott Kier, Brother Micheal Fehrenbach and Maryann Donohue-Lynch (DENA)

Alas only one last item to post. Tonight the Superior General called on us to make the lives of the poor better. The file was too big so I’ll find another way to share.

I hope you enjoyed!

SK

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Stained glass windows

As I have mentioned, Brother Mike and I were guests of Brother Claude Reinhardt and his community while we visited Reims. I wanted to share with you the stained glass windows from the chapel of the school founded by the Brothers.

Window depicting Brother Arnold from the outside

Window depicting Brother Arnold from the outside

Brother Arnold window from the inside

Brother Arnold window from the inside

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I hope you enjoyed!

-Scott Kier

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Champagne and vineyards

De La Salle’s mother was from the house of Moët, a well known for producing quality champagne.  Brother Claude took Brother Mike and myself out to the country to see the vineyards of the Champagne region of France. We also saw vines that were probably used by the Moët family even when De La Salle was alive.

Church of Hautvillers where Dom Perignon is buried

Church of Hautvillers where Dom Perignon is buried

Tomb of Dom Perignon

Tomb of Dom Perignon

Pre-champagne

Pre-champagne

Valley of vineyards

Valley of vineyards

Fitting way to end our time in Reims by having some bubbly

Fitting way to end our time in Reims by having some bubbly

One last post from Reims. I will share some pictures of the stained glass windows from the chapel of Lasallian school in Reims.

-Scott Kier

 

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Cathedral of Reims

As we all know, De La Salle was destined to a priestly life before he made the choice to begin the schools for the poor of France.  Some have even said that he might one day have become bishop and more. Good for us that the Spirit called him in another direction and he listened.

We were able to visit the Cathedral where De La Salle said his first mass, where he prayed daily, and what was a most central part of the life of Catholics in Reims.

Cathedral of Reims

Cathedral of Reims

Interior of the Cathedral at Reims

Interior of the Cathedral at Reims

Seat from which De La Salle prayed daily

Seat from which De La Salle prayed daily

Altar at which De La Salle said his first mass

Altar at which De La Salle said his first mass

Statue of the Founder in the chapel where he said his first mass

Statue of the Founder in the chapel where he said his first mass

Of the many statues that adorn the exterior of the Cathedral, the best known is the smiling angel

Of the many statues that adorn the exterior of the Cathedral, the best known is the smiling angel

It was definitely special to be in the exact places that played such an important and prominent place in the life of De La Salle. Being a lifelong Lasallian, I had heard the stories from Brothers Luke Salm, Gerard Rummery, Jeff Calligan, and William Mann, but to actually be there, touch, feel, and see the places where he lived and worked, will be something I will never forget.

-Scott Kier

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Little bit of Paris and a lot of Reims

After starting our journey in Amsterdam (alas De La Salle never ventured there), we headed to Paris where we stayed in the District’s guest house, saw lots of sights, including the Sorbonne, where La Salle took courses in theology while in the seminary at nearby St. Sulpice  .

University where the Founder took theology classes.

University where the Founder took theology classes.

When the adventure in Paris came to an end, we boarded the train and headed to Reims. Brother Claude Reinhardt met us and after dropping our bags off at the community house, we began to walk in the footsteps of De La Salle.

Our first stop was the Saint-Remi Basilica, the place where all the kings of France were crowned and where the relics of St. Remi are kept. It was here that St. La Salle prayed.

Interior of Saint-Remi Basilica.

Interior of Saint-Remi Basilica.

John Baptist de La Salle praying at the reliquary of Saint Remi.

John Baptist de La Salle praying at the reliquary of Saint Remi.

Reliquary of Saint Remi

Reliquary of Saint Remi

Reliquary of Saint Remi

Reliquary of Saint Remi

From the Basilica, Brother Claude led us down the same streets that De La Salle walked, passing the door where De La Salle met Adrien Nyell, the archway which he passed through every day on the way to teach, and the school he attended as a child.

Meeting place of La Salle and Nyell

Meeting place of De La Salle and Nyell

The College of Bob Enfants where La Salle attended as a child

The College of Bob Enfants where De La Salle attended as a child

Arch the La Salle passed through daily on his way to teach

Arch the De La Salle passed through daily on his way to teach

After a tour of the Cathedral of Reims (will be a separate post), we made our way to De La Salle’s home. It was amazing to actually walk in the same place where he lived and spent so many days.

De La Salle's home

De La Salle’s home from the street

De La Salle's home from the courtyard

De La Salle’s home from the courtyard

John Baptist de La Salle

John Baptist de La Salle

The teachers chair used by De La Salle

The teachers chair used by De La Salle

We hope you enjoyed this blog and the next will include the Cathedral of Reims and vineyards.

-Scott Kier & Br. Mike

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The Journey

Greeting Lasallians!

Last June, Brother Larry asked Brother Mike Fehrenbach and I (Scott Kier) to represent the District at the canonization of Blessed Solomon and then participate in CIL on formation at the Generalate. We readily agreed and then Brother Larry suggested that we “walk in the footsteps of De La Salle” so our two weeks turned into three.

This is our first post and more to come but we wanted to create an interest in our travels so this is the first. We promise there is more to come!

BMF and SK

Brother Mike and Scott under the Eiffel Tower

Brother Mike and Scott under the Eiffel Tower

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Visitors Meeting: Finale

I’m writing this in Fiumicino Airport waiting for my flight to Chicago, which is a mere six hours late! The good thing is, thanks to an early morning text, I got word before I left for the airport. The other good thing—aka blessing—is that I was able to stay for the closing session, which featured Brother Bob’s closing remarks and our commissioning service in the sanctuary of the main chapel.

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Here the General Council is praying a blessing over all of us Visitors; you can see the Founder’s reliquary in the background. We ended by singing together ,”Honneur a Toi”, which I found really moving. I guess being right there in the sanctuary, surrounded by my fellow “Principal Brothers” and so near the relics of St. John Baptist de La Salle, really brought it all home to me.

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Our sessions this week got very practical as we discussed the importance of accompaniment both of the Brothers in our charge as well as the GC’s responsibility to accompany us as Visitors. Yesterday we surfaced our hopes and ideas for the Intercapitular session in 2018; Brother Ricky Laguda led us through the process in which we all had an opportunity to see what everyone had come up with.

Josh McElwee, LV Alum

Josh McElwee, LV Alum

Josh McElwee, Rome corespondent for the National Catholic Reporter, was our guest for lunch on Tuesday. I had gotten to know Josh several years ago when he was a Lasallian Volunteer living at the Catholic Worker in Kansas City and interning at NCR. It was very interesting to hear him talk about all his experiences covering this endlessly fascinating and unpredictable Pope.

The USA Bros in Blue"!

The USA “Bros in Blue”—at your service!

Brothers Martin and Pedro from the District of Antilles-South Mexico gave each attendee one of these lovely blue shirts, so when we took our obligatory group photo Tuesday, we all wore them.

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So, it’s been a rather intense ten days, but also very good. To experience international brotherhood with so many good and dedicated men is an inspiration and an affirmation. We all share so many of the same issues but also the same hopes and dreams. We have no doubt this amazing Lasallian charism entrusted to us will live on. We are simply trying to make sure we do everything we can to assure that it thrives and that we continue to encourage one another to cross the many borders and boundaries that get in the way of serving the most vulnerable.

It’s all about faith and zeal—-and of course, association. Live Jesus in our hearts. Forever!

Ciao for now.

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Visitors Meeting 2016: 3

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One of the perks of being here at “The Casa” during this lovely time of year is pictured here: fresh apricots! The weather really has been very pleasant: cool nights and sunny days. We had last Saturday off, so I headed out to a museum and then to Ostia, which is on the Mediterranean. It was nice to just stroll along the beach and see the Italians enjoying themselves on a weekend afternoon.

"by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea..."

“by the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea…”

By the end of Friday, we Visitors had totaled 20 sessions! Again, that’s a lot of stitting and listening (in multiple languages). Thursday morning was focused on the two issues of Aging and Aged Districts (like North and South Belgium) and restructuring. The Lasallian East Asia District (or LEAD) is now five years old, and Bro. Edmundo is the Visitor. Here is a map of LEAD:

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So, whenever I complain about traveling in the Midwest District, I just have to recall what Bro. Edmundo has to do to get from one part of the district to another. As you may recall, I did experience two sectors last January while visiting Brothers Marty Sellner and Larry Humphrey in the Philippines and Singapore.

Brother Ambrose

Brother Ambrose

On Thursday afternoon, Brother Ambrose Payne from Australia and interim head of the International Ecomonic Council shared a rather sobering assessment of current Institute finances vis a vis the trajectory of rapidly aging districts. On Friday, we spent lots of time discussing General Chapter Propositions 19 and 27, dealing with new international initiatives. Each Region is asked to identify an initiative that is in direct service to the poor as well as one that can serve as an international vocation discernment community. Our RELAN group had a good discussion about what makes sense for us, given the importance of sustainability in initiatives that are currently serving the poor, much less new ones. We end each day with a mass at 6:30pm. Needless to say, we were all grateful that this rather grueling week was at an end.

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Ah, nothing like a good (Bavarian) beer on a Friday night with the guys, in this case, Bro. Leonardo, Visitor of Bogota, and Paulo, General Councilor (RELAL) from Brazil. It was so nice to unwind. That combined with the free day Saturday really helped me rejuvenate. Sunday was a day of recollection for us and the theme was: “Our Ministry of Leadership.” Bro. Tim Coldwell led us through the day which consisted of three sessions combined with prayer. I really appreciated the time to reflect upon my role as Visitor.

Brothers Bob and Hugh

Brothers Bob and Hugh

While we are meeting here in Rome, so are the leaders of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (more commonly known in the US as the “Irish Christian Brothers”), and so the General Council invited them to join us for a social and dinner. In this photo, Bro. Bob is welcoming our guests to our rooftop, where we had dinner. Beside him is Brother Hugh O’Neil, CFC Superior General. It was a delicious dinner, with lots of grilled meat and also seafood and salad. Brother Diego Munoz, Archivist, did the grilling, and we all thoroughly enjoyed  the results.

BBQ Chef, Bro. Diego

BBQ Chef, Bro. Diego

Dinner on the rooftop terrace

Dinner on the rooftop terrace with the “other” Christian Brothers

So, week two begins, and we’ll finish Wednesday noon. Keep us in your prayers as we get down to discerning how best to utilize the 2018 Intercapitular Meeting.

-BL

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