Heading Home

So, the 2018 Intercapitular Meeting is now history. I’m writing this in the Newark Airport where I am with Brothers Bede and Michael as we await our connecting flight to O’Hare. Our last two days were filled with lots of sharing of both ideas and programs. We spent Friday morning on a creative and enjoyable activity called “Marketplace.” It involved each District identifying both Beyond the Border and Tercentenary (2019) activities and ideas and writing them on the windows of the main hallway to the Chapel. (no worries; we used white board markers!) Then, we all walked around and exchanged questions and ideas and suggestions. We were all reminded of the vast array of Lasallian opportunities we have on all five continents.

Saturday was our final day, and we began by sharing ideas on both themes and processes for the 46th General Chapter. A preparatory commission will be set up next year to begin the planning, so all that we shared will help, along with electronic surveys we completed while in session. Bob, our Superior General, delivered his closing remarks; one comment that stuck with me is when he said:  “Brothers, our communities and educational centers offer a welcoming, non-judgmental space where young people can explore questions about the spiritual life.  They are spaces where we can invite young men to become Brothers and women and men to live the fullness of their vocations!”

He also pointed out that while we were meeting for these past two weeks, a new Lasallian school opened in Rumbek in South Sudan. Ever onward! We ended at noon with a closing prayer service in the main Chapel, followed by a very festive meal.

Since Saturday also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day, Pat Duffy hosted a party in the Den Saturday evening, and we all enjoyed the food, drink, singing, and camaraderie. It was a wonderful way to wrap up a rather rigorous but also very inspiring two weeks. We are, as the IC theme proclaims: “On the Way.”

Marketplace

St Patrick’s Day

Bros Michael, Bob, and Shazad.

General Councilor Ricky Laguda

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Intercapitular 2018: Day 9

We’re beginning to wind down after a pretty rigorous week of presentations, reflection, and meetings, framed by prayer and daily mass. We end Saturday noon, and most of us are heading out Sunday.

A couple highlights from the last few days include an opportunity to meet the 20 university students here for the semester. The six Lasallian universities in RELAN have been planning a “Rome semester” for quite some time. It has finally come to fruition, thanks to lots of people, but especially Dr. Dominic Colonna from Lewis University. I caught up with him for dinner Tuesday night to find out how the program is going. All three of our District universities have participants here. We agreed to have the students stop in to one of our sessions on Thursday to be introduced and explain a bit about this “pioneer” experience.  I think it was good for all of us capitulants to actually see, as Brother Aidan said, the “real faces of Lasallian education”. As part of their semester program, they are headed to Assisi for the weekend. We all hope this will be the first of many such semesters here at the Generalate, and involving many more of our universities around the world.

Thursday evening, our District went out for dinner and invited Brother Florent, Visitor of Canada Francophone, to join us, since he is the sole rep of his District. It was a very pleasant evening at a local restaurant.

Brother Rodolfo, Postulator General, reminded me that next Tuesday, March 20, is when the nine Vatican theologians gather to decide the cause of Brother Jim Miller’s beatification. We should know by the end of that day. Let’s keep our hands folded and our fingers crossed; Blessed Brother James Miller has a very nice ring to it.

Ciao for now.

The Lasallian university students being introduced to the capitulants; Dr. Colonna is on the dais, far right.

The group photo which included capitulants, plus Generalate staff.

Dinner out

A display on Bro. James Miller: oremus!

RELAN!

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A Special Intercapitular Message from Brother Michael Kadow, Auxiliary Visitor

We are in the midpoint of our time here in Rome for the Intercapitular Assembly.  As it is my first time attending such a meeting, it has been an enriching and educational experience.  I am struck by the amount of progress made since our last General Chapter in 2014.  I am also impressed by the agreement worldwide on what needs to be done as we move forward.  I look forward to future meetings where all the voices of the Lasallian Family are present.

On a personal note, I have eaten way too much but as they say…when in Rome…

Blessings to all!  Be assured that all of our service and prayers are making a positive impact on our world!

Brother Michael Kadow

Brothers at the IC who studied in the Midwest District: Bros. Christy, Nestor, Pierre, Pius, and Carlos.

Bro. Bede and I had lunch with Sr. Roxane Schares, the newly elected General Superior of the SSNDs. Bede worked with her in Kenya and I worked with her in Mankato her way back before I joined the Brothers. The SSND Generalate is just a little further up the Via Aurelia.

On Wednesday we had a very good presentation by the Office of Solidarity and Development: a very impressive group!

On Thursday, Bro Alex led a discussion on the Office of Communications, another very impressive group.

 

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IC2018: Day 3

It’s rather amazing how quickly one falls into a routine. By now, the schedule is pretty well set: we begin with morning prayer in the new Trinity Chapel at 8:30am and end with mass at 6:30pm, followed by a social and dinner at 7:30. It’s a long day, but we do take several breaks, including the traditional siesta after the 1:00pm lunch.

Each day is a good mix of presentations and small group sessions. And each small group is different, so there is a lot of variety. Kudos to the planning team. This morning, for instance, we were on the theme of Lasallian Formation and Vocation, and we spent time dreaming and scheming about what could be. Lots of creative ideas emerge and are collated.

It’s a joy and pleasure to be reunited with familiar faces and to meet new Brothers as well. Meals, breaks, and socials provide ample time to chat and get both acquainted and reacquainted. And we are always mindful of the task at hand: to set a course for the next few years and the 46th General Chapter. Please keep us in prayer as we do so.

Bro. Aidan Kilty, General Councilor and Facilitator of Tuesday’s session; the question is key to why we are all here.

Your Midwest Visitor Team in the Aula Magna

Evening Mass in the Trinity Chapel

Bro. Alexander, Communications Director, spruced up the meeting spaces with lots of photos; this one got my attention, because our District magazine is in it!

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Intercapitular 2018 is off and running!

It began this morning in the newly renovated—and quite handsome—“Aula Magna” or Great Hall, where all our sessions will be held. Brother Bob Schieler, our Superior General, began with an address that I found very stirring and inspiring: the quote that sticks with me is:

“We are the principal Brothers responsible for the vision and direction of the Institute. During these two weeks, we are ‘a community of faith in which we share  our experience of God, encountered in daily commitments and in listening to the Word of God, in personal and community prayer, in reading the signs of the times and in the discernment of the will God’ (Rule: 46).”

After a morning break, we assembled by Regions in various locales of the generalate and began our prayer in Regional Groups and then came together in the main Chapel for our opening prayer ritual. We were to gather outside around the “Parmenie altar”, but it was raining. As a symbol of the Intercapitular, we were each given a ceramic LaSalle star, created by students from a school in Sicily. The theme for the IC in the three Institute languages is: “En Camino/En Route/On the Way”.

This afternoon, Alicia Macksey, Chair of CIAMEL, will be presenting along with several other secretariats and services. Mass at 6:30, followed by social, and dinner at 7:30.

Last evening as I sat in the English-speaking “Den” at a pre-dinner social, I gazed around the room and marveled at the variety of cultures present: Brother Damien from Ireland, Brother Paul from Singapore, Brother Ghebres from Kenya, and Brother Florent from Canada, along with several others from around the globe—and these are just the “Anglophones”! It is a blessing to be reawakened to the global reality of our Institute.

Socializing in The Den

Our RELAN group

Our “souvenir” star

Brothers from RELAF entering “en route”

The “new” Aula Magna

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Women of Zeal – the future!

Finding different seats across the room, we began the morning with a reflection and prayer from the Hong Kong Lasallian women in our group. They shared that there is a growing number of girls attending schools in their country and more and more female staff educating the children.

After a recap of thoughts from our days together, we reviewed the listed outcome topics that had been outlined during our symposium.

Each table group was invited to reflect on this list and add to or update input so that we could formulate specific resolutions.  It was decided that outcomes be formally prepared and submitted to Brother Superior and the General Council for endorsement so we would first seek a “YES” from all women attending regarding these outcomes. Trish Carroll will conclude her role as Symposium Lead Organizer by preparing a formal report for the General Council.

***Please Note:  I’ve taken notes so I might offer a snapshot of outcomes the group discussed and said “YES” to include.  The formal report will be more comprehensive and have final information to be discussed and considered.

SYMPOSIUM OUTCOME NOTES

  • Truly representative International Women’s ‘Council’ with a Mission Statement and clear purpose statements by the end of 2017; an appointment of person(s) as short-term bridge to effectively get this started in a timely manner and consider potential use of secondment to utilize existing skills/experience.
  • Engagement with district/regional groups that work with existing structures.
  • Ensure inclusivity and collective Lasallian voice, gender parity in leadership and representation with concrete policy. Be culturally sensitive.
  • Effectively communicate using both virtual and traditional means to inform, engage, and include ALL Lasallians.
  • Global, regional and district mentoring program using a variety of structures (technology/face-to-face) tailored to meet the individual needs.
  • Engage the voice of students/clients/Young Lasallians immediately in Mission planning, as well as in the promotion of Lasallian vocation.
  • Create a database and directory for global connections.
  • We acknowledge the need to remain faithful to the Mission by bringing to life the commitments contained without our Lasallian documents.
  • Personal commitment of all delegates to share this experience, knowledge, and outcomes with their local Lasallian communities upon return.

At the close of this most important work – we stood together and declared, “We Are Here!”

Our days together concluded with a beautiful service in which each participant was blessed to receive a gift of a hand painted river rock with meaningful symbols from New Zealand. In the quiet moments while we walked together…our tears fell, tears of joy because we were each moved by the everlasting relationships we all formed, the power of our voices together in song and sharing and the knowledge that we have made a difference.

Certificates were distributed and we all went forth…a new beginning!

Our Lasallian sisters from Pakistan….England, Australia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, North America, Hong Kong, South Africa…the globe!

We are touched by a zeal no one could fully capture in words, we smiled and laughed, voiced our passion and desire to do good in our world, to be the good we wish to see. I shall never be the same!

And as I left Aukland this afternoon, riding with new friends from ‘across the pond’ to see more of New Zealand, we talked about the many things that touched us…the many ways we grew and appropriately, the scenery along the way showed us the Hand of God reaching down as He did all those days together.

My thanks to the Christian Brothers of the Midwest District for this opportunity to be a part of this next chapter…for allowing me to share this story. Also, to my colleagues at Saint Mary’s Press for their support and help with ongoing work during my time away. It is so good to be together by association…live Jesus in our Hearts – forever!

Kia Ora!

PJ

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Women of Zeal – the present (part 2)

Our ongoing dialogue about the present…

“Fulfill your ministry with all the affection of your heart” – De La Salle

Our conversations this morning led us to reflect on love, empathy and compassion as powerful tools for making change.  If we are to leave a legacy for coming generations, we know we must carry forward the priorities which have emerged from our time together.  56% of today’s Lasallians are female partners. That percentage will continue to increase in the coming years and calls us to stay focused on our mission. Our voices must not only be included in the ongoing dialogue, but heard as a loud and clear message of what it means to truly be together by association.

Circular 461 notes the contribution of Lasallian women in the Mission and specifically speaks to our participation as ‘essential’. And, Circular 470 encourages the promotion of new leadership among Brothers and Lasallians who can boldly and creatively respond to the Church of the 21st century; ‘We cannot sit idly and remain on the sideline. There is an urgent need to find new roadmaps that encourage creativity and innovation in the pursuit of the common good.’

There was a powerful “YES” in this room from a body of women representing various corners of the globe. Yes, we must be bold! Yes, we must be creative! Yes, we must accept the challenge of co-responsibility! Yes, we must reshape leadership frameworks! Yes, we must have an obligation to action! Yes, we must create pathways for young women – the future of the Mission depends on it!  In the words of Malala Yousafzai, “I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.”

Excursion…

The afternoon also offered a bus trip to the Aukland Museum. We had an opportunity to walk, discover more about New Zealand’s culture, take a group photo and enjoy our lunch.

 

Upon return, we were offered an ‘open mic’ time to share reflections about our learnings so far and hopes for the future.  Words expressed overflowed with gratitude, understanding, hope and vision.

The evening meal was accompanied by entertainment from a Sweet Adeline quartet and during dessert, we were treated to a variety of dances from the Pacific region.  There were girls and women of all ages included in the dances and they were clothed in their traditional dress from each region.

At the end of the performance, our Brothers were invited to the center of the room to dance as well.

 

 

We’re certain that the reason the internet connection went down was because of all the ‘views’ from the postings of those wiggles!

A family that plays together – stays together!  It was a wonderful close to our day.

PJ

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Women of Zeal – Lasallian Women – the present

Our morning opened with a prayer reflection and presentation by the contingent from Papua New Guinea.  The women came together in their traditional dress, sang, prayed and honored the bilum which is a handmade string bag used for carrying firewood, vegetables and even babies in their country.

Learning about their culture and their people is just one of many memories that will stay with all of us from this symposium gathering.

Following the prayer, two of the women in our group presented me with my own bilum as a gift, which I will forever cherish… carrying this experience and the strength of their stories home with me!

I am already much richer because I know them. In sharing this experience it is my hope you carry a new idea to others to spread the charism of De La Salle.

Morning Session:

Today’s session was moderated by Trish Carroll (the symposium organizer and facilitator). We focused on the place and identity of women today in the world and in the Lasallian mission.  We discussed how we can be a collective voice for Lasallian women and what that might look like for our future.

Drawing from the main topics that surfaced from yesterdays work, the buzz in the room was palpable as we raised our collective voice to outline ideas for change.  This voice must be heard and will help the Lasallian mission to grow and flourish in years to come.

Tracy Adams and Amanda Proulx gave the keynote address and shared sobering statistics about the women of the world.  Consider this:

  • Women do 66% of the world’s work, yet earn 10% of its income (this does not include unpaid work such as child care, elder care and housework).
  • 35% of the world’s women have experienced physical/sexual abuse.
  • Two thirds of the world’s illiterate are women.
  • Two thirds of the world’s most poor are women.
  • A woman dies every 90 seconds through childbirth or pregnancy complications.
  • Each year, 15 million under-aged girls are forcibly married.
  • Each year, thousands of girls are murdered in ‘honor killings’.
  • Internationally, 24% of business leaders are women.
  • There are 195 recognized countries and currently there are only 10 women serving as Heads of State.

Together, we reacted to these points and came face to face with the realities that affect us as women in the world. Our Lasallian mission draws us to focus on education and care for the vulnerable. Our energy is renewed knowing that our work makes a significant difference in the lives of children all over the world. For example:

  1. A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past the age of five, to be immunized, and to attend school.
  2. Wages, agricultural income, and productivity – all critical for reducing poverty, are higher where women who are involved in agriculture receive a better education.
  3. Each additional year of schooling beyond primary offers greater payoffs for improved opportunities, options and outcomes.

These are just a few of the ways education impacts the lives of our children. Education is power – it is vital, it is a part of who we are as Lasallians. We see this as MISSION CRITICAL.

More to come…

PJ

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Women of Zeal – The Ongoing Story (Part 2)

“How long has Jesus been knocking at the door of your heart, waiting to enter?” – De La Salle

Our afternoon on this first day together, included four workshops facilitated by group leaders from different places and ministries. These sessions centered around key questions:

  1. What are the current realities and experiences of Lasallian women?
  2. How do we create opportunities to give voice to Lasallian women?
  3. How do we foster global relationships?
  4. Imagine the Institute in 20 years’ time – what will the Lasallian women’s vocation look like?

All voices were heard and we shared the ways in which we empower one another in different parts of the world and grapple with some of the same questions no matter where we go. Like the women we talked about in our morning session – we must be open to the spirit and listen to the call to be the change makers where we live, bringing light to the darkness and calm where there is chaos.

In each of our sessions, we recorded thoughts and suggestions for change. The entire group then had the opportunity to prioritize their four top challenges for change.

There is power in listening because you honor the needs of others by truly hearing what they need.  We listen to learn, to erase assumptions, to nurture the other, to uphold human dignity, to bring peace, to connect and to grow. We shall build relationships globally to empower all communities of the world to live justly, act tenderly and walk humbly in our shared mission.

In these moments throughout the day we shared an energy and a closeness so we no longer felt like manuhiri (visitors) but whanau (an extended family)!  We shared a beautiful meal of Salmon and vegetables, conversation and sweets before taking some walk about time and turning in.

Kia ora (blessings of the day)!

PJ

 

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Women of Zeal – The Ongoing Story (Part 1)

It’s Monday, July 17th, Day One of our gathering following last evening’s opening welcome ceremony & greeting.  Today’s theme:

The Ongoing Story

Morning Notes…

Three of our De La Salle Brothers began with opening remarks and I was deeply moved by the reflection Br. Ed shared with us from the Brothers of the Lasallian Family of RELAN. Perhaps it touched me even more profoundly because he brought to us the words of a friend and brother, Br. Charlie Kitson – who went to the Lord in the recent past. Together, we prayed Br. Charlie’s favorite morning prayer and then some of the verses of his last poem, “Surrender” were read as well.  The feelings in even the first lines…so perfect for our group to hear the images in his heart – what was on his mind;

As I pray to pray, I hear heaven’s laughter…a loving chuckle. A Mother’s sigh – glimpsing her toddler’s first solo flight at tying a shoelace…”

“My long buried burdens burst their tombs ascending to a God who declared me forgiven oh so long ago…”

Following our prayer with one another, Trish Carroll and Tina Bonacci opened our morning with a keynote address: “The change makers; women of our Lasallian story”.  How beautiful to ponder the strengths and vulnerabilities of women we have come to know – but understood more deeply as we shared together. We learned what they had in common, we talked about what they felt, and considered questions they might have asked. We wondered how we might emulate them and how we remember them for future generations.

Mary – the Mother of God, who lacked formal education, was from a poor family and considered of low social status… said ‘yes’ and brought salvation to the world. She did not need power or riches or status to be a change agent. She let go of the worries about what others would think or say and simply trusted, because she had faith.

Madeleine Lamy – a woman of De La Salle’s time, who took in the girls and women who had been stricken with poverty and caught in prostitution and desperate circumstances in order to survive – she did all she could for them but had the courage to ask Fr. John Eudes – “What are you doing for these poor women?” She asked a question in a time when women owned nothing, had no legal rights, were to be obedient to their fathers and husbands and praised for their docility. She had the courage to ask – and he had the humility to listen. That exchange changed the course of their lives… and places to care for and educate girls and women were founded.

Sr. Louise – met De La Salle in Parmeine when he was struggling with his mission and had been focused on all the things going wrong. Louise listened and in her wisdom and compassion reminded De La Salle of what he was truly called to do.  She helped him to find the strength to hold onto his faith and continue to answer his call.  This was a simple sheepherder. She had no riches, no fortune, great faith and the wisdom to listen and invite another into conversation. A conversation that would profoundly change both of them.

Dorothy Day – who began the Catholic Worker movement along with Peter Maurin to provide for the basic needs of humanity…Houses of Hospitality that fed the poor, sheltered the lost and helped thousands of people. Dorothy worked tirelessly fighting against injustice. In her words, ‘We want to change the world by crying out unceasingly for the poor and vulnerable’. She credited Peter for this movement and he not only attended a Lasallian school, he later became a De La Salle Brother too.

Like these women, we are called…we need not be rich or have a certain status in our community or place of work. We can see others and help them see us; stay rooted in our faith and trust in our own strengths; begin the conversation – listen and touch others with what we know; and fight against injustice and stand up for the vulnerable among us. We too can be agents of change.

In the later part of the morning, we were paired randomly and invited to find a quiet spot and to journey together two-by-two on our own Emmaus Walk.  We took the time to reflect on our personal Lasallian stories – to share with one another and  awaken new understandings in ourselves while coming to know a new Lasallian sister in our family. I walked with Rhondy from Papua New Guinea and we now share a bond as Lasallian women and partners in this mission we believe in.

We look forward to four afternoon workshops.

Hei Kona mai (Goodbye for now…)

PJ

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