Posted by: admin in: ● June 25, 2014
“Together and by association,” four words that we, as Lasallians, hear often, but are they words we are truly living by? If our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, were to pay a visit to any one of our ministries today, would he be pleased with our efforts to encourage this fundamental characteristic of Lasallian Charism? These were the questions that inspired this year’s district wide Lasallian Advancement Conference.
As a year spent planning and organizing came to an end, nearly 80 advancement officers from 26 Midwest District ministries gathered together at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL for a two-day conference filled with discussions and experiences that were long overdue.
Each day began with inspiring and well-received words from two distinguished Brothers. The first day, was the keynote address given by Brother Ernest Miller from the District of Eastern North America. The second day, Brother Larry Schatz, Visitor/Provincial joined us straight from Rome after seven weeks at the 45th General Chapter. Both shared insightful words on the purpose of association and how we, as advancement officers, can and should develop this undeniable piece of our mission.
After breakfast, words from our speakers, and some round table discussions attendees had the opportunity to join one of the many breakout sessions that were presented by several of our peer advancement officers. Topics for the breakout sessions were diverse and covered a variety of areas of advancement including: major gift asks, online/mobile giving, events, and social media, just to name a few. There was literally something for everyone.
Once the breakout sessions were over, we all gathered together for some leisurely conversation and affinity group sessions that proved to be some of the most impactful time during the conference. Relationships that had been based off of a quick email or phone call turned into bonds that would have made our Founder proud.
As the conference came to a close, we shared one last meal together, swapped an impressive assortment of development materials from our ministries, and listened to some powerful closing remarks from the Midwest District’s Chief Development Officer, Rob Cummings.
Those two days were just the beginning. In an effort to continue the collaboration that was started at this first Lasallian Advancement Conference, a LinkedIn Group entitled “Lasallian Advancement” was created and is already gaining momentum. This certainly will not be our last gathering either. There are already plans for the next Lasallian Advancement Conference to be held in 2016 at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN.
Posted by: admin in: ● June 9, 2014
I know it’s a cliche, but there I was yesterday afternoon on the quiet banks of the Tiber taking one last gaze at Rome and playing “Arrivederci Roma” on my iPhone. Our seven weeks together as capitulants officially ended on Saturday evening, but most of us leave today, Monday. Yesterday I was part of the schola conducted very skillfully by Bro. Claude to celebrate Pentecost in the main chapel. It was a very nice liturgy, and we had a last lunch together after.
Then, after a brief siesta, I headed out into Rome just to wander around a bit. It was the first really warm day in Rome, but lots of narrow streets with a shady side helped a lot. I noticed many more tourists now that June is here. The usual tourist spots such as the Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona were bustling with tour groups and sunglasses and trinket vendors. My favorite “old” monument is the Pantheon. It never ceases to awe me when I suddenly see it through a side street and then walk into the plaza. It is strikingly massive and the best preserved Roman temple in the world. To walk inside and gaze upwards is to glimpse perfection and divinity in a structure made almost 2000 years ago.
Part of my goal for being there was also to check out two nearby places that a Roman couple recommended. One was Tazza d’Oro Coffee Shop and the other is Giolitti’s. I was advised to have a “granita” at Tazza d’Oro (Cup of Gold), and it is a sort of iced coffee, but that hardly does it justice. Typical of any coffee served in Rome, it seemed small, but once I spooned into its creamy coffee flavor, I was hooked. Then, I visited nearby Giolitti’s, a world famous gelateria. Unlike most gelaterias, it even has waiter service and extensive indoor seating. I had been there on my first trip to Rome with students back in the late 70s, and I really wondered if it lives up to its reputation. After all, I have frequented more than a few gelaterias these seven weeks. In short, it does! (This is, dear reader, my last gelato review. Oh, how I shall miss my official duties as a gelato reviewer and the subsequent obligation to try gelato whenever possible!)
So, anyway, before heading back to the Generalate for our usual 7:30 dinner, I ended up at the Tiber. The banks are significantly below street level, so save for a bike trail and a few runners, it is a very quiet refuge from the crowds and din above. It was a nice way to say farewell to the Eternal City.
I’m writing this at Fiumicino airport, while waiting for my late morning flight direct to Chicago. I’ll arrive mid-afternoon, thanks to a seven-hour time difference and about a nine-hour flight. I’m certainly very glad to be heading home. It has been a very intense seven weeks. I have never before experienced a seven-week meeting. I also don’t think I’ve ever had seven straight weeks of no traveling, since I became Visitor. I did appreciate being in one place for a while.
To say we accomplished a lot really is an understatement. I can honestly say that I had serious doubts that we would get thought the Rule revision, especially given the fatigue level after five weeks of meeting and the excitement and drama of election week. But we did it, and I have no doubt we have the Holy Spirit to thank—along with all of your prayers.
I will miss this good group of “principal Brothers”, especially a few of them. The Young Brothers, for instance, were an exceptional group and added a lot to our experience on many levels. It was a joy to be with them. To spend time with the Lwanga Brothers, especially my old friend Belayneh, was a also a blessing. I will need some time to unpack this whole experience, but I am deeply grateful to have been part of it all, despite the inevitable challenges, frustrations, and multi-lingual processing.
I am very proud of our new Superior General’s first few weeks. He has been tirelessly meeting with so many groups, and his closing address Saturday morning was very impressive. We are in good and very capable hands these next seven years. (interesting how many times the number 7 appears in this narrative. As you know it is, along with 12, one of the “perfect” numbers in Christianity. Perfect, right?)
So, arrivederci Roma; hello again, Chicago. It is nice coming home to summer; when I left on Easter Sunday, it was still a rather chilly spring in Chicago. That seems like a long time ago. Now, after a pretty extra-ordinary experience, it’s back to ordinary time. Ever onward!
Posted by: admin in: ● June 5, 2014
It’s Thursday morning, and we have–at last!—finished the Rule revision, save for a few minor proposals to enhance the text. Now we are deciding what still needs to be done before we close down this Chapter on Sunday. Yesterday, I interviewed Brother Ambrose Payne from Australia, who has served as our Chapter Coordinator. He was also on the Rule Revision Commission as well as the Preparatory Commission. I asked him to share his view on GC45 to date:
Well-said, O Fearless Leader! My own group working with Chapter 6: Formation just finished presenting its many articles earlier this morning. We finished right before the coffee break and after a rough afternoon yesterday, we felt very good that most of what we proposed passed. There is a palpable sense of relief now that our major tasks are completed.
We’ll be in “wrap-up mode” the next couple days, especially tomorrow. The Writing Group, yet to be decided, will be charged with finalizing the text for the Rule, which does need be submitted to the Holy See for ultimate approval. The submitted text will be in French, and that definitive text will serve as the text for the English and Spanish translations, along with any other languages.
A nice touch: each morning as we begin our session, and right after prayer, we acknowledge a particular group that has greatly aided our work as capitulants. Monday, as you may recall, it was the translators, Tuesday, the IT and Communications team, yesterday all the members of the Central Community, and today all of the lay employees here st the Generalate.
Last night, we had our final Region-sponsored social. RELAL (Latin America) hosted, and there was no lack of festivity, which included competitions, dancing, and singing. IALU (Lasallian universities) begins next week, so a few familiar faces, who serve as coordinators, have already arrived.
My final blog will be an attempt to tie all this together. What an incredible experience. The key now is to enjoy the time remaining to us. There is much to celebrate!
Posted by: admin in: ● June 2, 2014
It’s late Monday afternoon here in Rome. Once again, it is a national holiday in Italy, this time, Republic Day. And once again, your faithful capitulants are hard at work! I do feel bad for the four delegates from Italy, who would otherwise have the day off. Of course, we Americans worked last Monday, Memorial Day.
One of the nice things that happened at the beginning of our session today was a formal salute to all of our translators. Without their invaluable help, this chapter could not happen. They were all called to the front, and Bro. Paulo Petry, the new Councilor representing RELAL read a glowing tribute to them.
Last Saturday—and this still amazes me—we approved three chapters of the Rule. Now, you need to know that we don’t simply approve an entire chapter at once. Rather, we have to officially approve each article, which either represents a constitution or a statute. For example, the chapter on “Consecrated Life”, which we finished today, has about 25 articles that we had to approve. Each one is formally read, explained, and then we do an electronic vote. Our chapter on formation is especially long. The original draft had 101 articles! We have reduced it to about 60, but that’s still a lot. In fact, because it is so long, our group actually worked most of yesterday just to get it done, which means, dear reader, that many of us have not had a day off since Sunday, May 25. So, you are definitely getting your “money’s worth” out of this capitulant! In fact, several of us from my group decided to get off campus and have dinner together last evening. Good choice! The only condition: no one talks about The Rule—in any language!
So, at the end of today, we have now approved five chapters. We have five to go in the next few days, which means, that we have a very good chance of finishing by Thursday of this week. I would never have guessed that a week ago! We are plugging away, trusting that the Spirit is at work. Even though we have Chapter 6 of the Rule, our group will be the last one to present, because we have such a lengthy chapter and so many articles.
So, the end is in sight! A week from now, I’ll be on my way back to Chicago. We officially end GC45 on Sunday. Might we actually have some “down time” late this week? As the Spanish would say, “ojalá”.
I decided to make my most recent interview with one of the Young Brother capitulants a bit more challenging for at least some of you. Bro. Arsenio is from Spain, and knows very little English, so he spoke in Spanish about his experience as a delegate. (Sorry, no translation provided; you are on your own!)
Bro. Arsenio was in my working group and I can see why Bro Alvaro chose him and the other Young Brothers here as appointed delegates. It is very good to have their youthful energy and zeal. We are blessed!
On we go….keep those prayers coming, please.
Posted by: admin in: ● May 30, 2014
One of the highlights of Wednesday was a virtual visit from the General Councilor from PARC, Bro. Ricky Laguda, who is not a capitulant and currently serves as president of De La Salle University in Manila. Thanks to modern technology, Bro. Ricky was able to greet us and share a few words with us.
Knowing that we only have a week left to complete the revision of The Rule, I think everyone is plugging away, wanting to get this formidable task done. My working group is tackling Chapter 6: Formation. It is a long chapter, and we are working in three languages, so it’s a bit tedious. That said, it’s also a great group. Here’s a photo from yesterday:
We will begin actually voting on the Rule revisions tomorrow, Saturday. Oh, for those days back a few weeks ago when we actually had Saturdays off! Because time is tight and my group is working “overtime” to get our work done, this will be a brief blog.
Besides the delegates, there are several Brothers serving as “support staff”. For example, every day we vote on the minutes of the previous day’s general sessions. That means that you need three recording secretaries and it also means that they have to meet, compare notes that they have taken, and then translate them into three languages. The secretary for French is Bro. Florent Gaudreault from Canada Francophone, who currently serves in the RELAN Regional Office in Washington, DC. I asked him to share a little on his valuable work as a “minutes-taker”:
“Merci” for all your hard work, Brother!
This week’s social was hosted by PARC (Pacific-Asia), an amzaingly diverse Region. A couple “special” items:
One of the many contests that were part of the PARC social was a dance contest. It was pretty tricky, and the following video shows why. Bro. Jhonmar, a Young Brother from Venezuela, showed us how:
All right, back to work…
Posted by: admin in: ● May 27, 2014
So, I have to admit that at this point, it really is tough to get energized about the Rule revision. And yet, we have been mandated by the last General Chapter to do this, and the draft we are working on is the culmination of several years of hard work and lots of feedback and rewrites.It’s just that after all the drama and excitement of last week’s election and discussion of proposals, it seems a natural time to bring this all to a close. And yet, in many ways. these last two weeks on the Rule could have perhaps the most significant impact on the lives of Brothers going forward.
We did begin yesterday (Memorial Day back in the good old USA) with a morning of reflection and part of our time involved an Emmaus walk with someone from another Region on a couple questions we were given. It did help set the tone for the serious work we are undertaking.
Br. Anthony is also one of our scrutineers, so he had a very busy week last week. Thanks, Brother!
As we discussed the many proposals that the seven groups came up with , we eventually vote on each. We do so with an electronic vote. Here is what the “tally board” looks like:
Si=yes, no is obvious, Ast=abstain, JM=Juxta Modum, and Tot=Total. Juxta Modum? Yeah, that’s a rather strange option, isn’t it? It’s Latin for the ability to vote “yes” but with the condition of adding a note to amend or clarify a word or phrase. Frankly, with Google Drive and the ability to do this on-line, I don’t really see a use for it, but it is apparently a popular option because almost inevitably there is one or two JM’s on the tally board. Each time we vote , the scrutineers need to verify the total of voting capitulants. It is generally anywhere from 87-89, depending on who is in or out of the Aula Magna.
Once the total capitulants present for each vote is verified, (as you see above) then the vote tally is displayed. Perhaps this is a bit too too much information, but since we have spent so much time voting in proposals these last few days, I wanted to let you know how that works here in the “Great Hall.”
One of the great blessings of so international a group is the opportunity to encounter various cultures and traditions. We certainly do that once a week at the Region-sponsored socials, but there are also the informal gatherings like the German Night I’ve been invited to. Those of us with a German background (or close), have gathered twice now for a good, hearty German home-cooked meal here in the Generalate, and then lots of singing, mainly in German. Here’s a great example of the “gemütlichkeit” that happens after our meal (with beer, of course!)
Brother Claude, former two-term General Councilor is also present, of course, and he has a wonderful voice. Here he is displaying his amazing yodeling ability:
Our get-together this past weekend was on the roof of the Motherhouse; it provides a great view of Rome.
So, “alles gut”. Back to The Rule. Please keep Bro. Tom Power in your prayers who passed away over Memorial Day Weekend. He was a resident at Resurrection Life Center.
Posted by: admin in: ● May 23, 2014
This has been quite a week! By now, you know that the election process has been completed with the election of a new Superior and Vicar, plus five Councilors who also have a responsibility for specific Regions. While both Brothers Bob and Jorge are “repeaters”, all the councilors are new. I think we all believed that it is important to signal to the entire Lasallian Family that the next seven years will not be “business as usual.”
Some of you may be wondering why there are only five councilors. since eight were chosen at the 44th General Chapter. This was the subject of much discussion and the Government Thematic Group decided to propose that there be five Councilors, but that the SG could always appoint one or two extra if he deems it necessary. As you may recall, the last Chapter ended with clear “job descriptions” for the new position of Councilors who served the Regions, but without clearly defined roles for the three Councillors who were in residence here at the Generalate. So, this “streamlining” seemed to make a lot of sense to all of us. The fact that none of the five Councilors from the past seven years was re-elected is not a reflection on their effectiveness or lack thereof, but rather a desire to start anew. That said, a huge GRAZIE to Brothers Tom, Alberto, David, Edgar, Gabriel, and Jacques, and of course, to Brother Alvaro for his 21 years of service to the Institute as both Vicar and Superior General.
Brother Pierre Outarra (RELAF) and Bro. Ricky Laguda (PARC) are not capitulants and therefore were not present as they were elected. Our five young “scrutineers” have also been very busy these past few days verifying probably 15 separate votes. Hats off to our vote monitors!
Bro. Francisco (aka Sockie) from the Philippines shares his experience as one of the scrutineers, which is more than just serving as a “vote-counter”:
Thank you, Brother, for your powerful witness!
Despite the rigorous schedule this week, which includes working all day tomorrow (Saturday), we did take time out to celebrate Wednesday night at the RELEM social. It was great fun!
Bro. Rafa from Spain “conducts” a dance line.
On Thursday evening, Brothers here from the Midwest District went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Bro. Tom Johnson, former Vicar General, chose the place and we toasted him during the meal. It was a very relaxing evening together. Unfortunately, Bro. John Blease could not join us.
We are in the midst of discussing many proposals from the seven thematic groups. Some are evoking lively discussion. The proposals that pass will form the Acts of the Chapter. Back to work!
Posted by: admin in: ● May 21, 2014
By now, of course, you have ll received the big news that our RELAN Councilor, Bro. Bob Schieler, was elected the 27th Superior General. Here are three videos from yesterday that I’d like to share with you. I’ve had the honor of sitting (alphabetically) right next to Bro. Bob Schieler during this chapter, so I had a “ringside” seat yesterday for this very moving moment:
His acceptance was followed by the “accolade”, where each Brother embraces the new Superior General:
When the accolade was finished, we all walked from the Aula Magna to the Chapel chanting “Omnes Gentes”:
The whole event, steeped in tradition, was so impressive and made me very proud to be a Brother of the Christian Schools.
This morning Bro. Jorge Gallardo who has served as a Resident Councilor these past seven years, was elected as the Vicar general, succeeding our own Bro. Tom Johnson. Later this afternoon, we will begin the process of electing the five General Councillors whose responsibility will include the five regions of the Institute.
Here are a few “insider” photos and some from the reception that followed our formal prayer in the chapel.
Today our new Superior General is hard at work!
Posted by: admin in: ● May 17, 2014
That’s right, you’re looking at the cake that was wheeled out after a delicious lunch on Founder’s Day. I don’t want to think about it too much, because the thought of Our Holy Founder’s image being cut up into small pieces is not the best takeaway from the day! That said, the cake was very tasty, and our mid-day celebration was enjoyable. It really is a blessing to be here at the Generalate celebrating Founders Day with Brothers from around the world. Several of us mentioned that to one another.
I was honored that the District icon of our Founder by Bro. William Woeger was used on the monitor. Earlier this week, I had placed on each desk a “holy card” of the icon from our District with a special message on the back.
At the end of our mid-day mass we honored the outgoing Central Government. That includes Brothers Alvaro and Tom as the major superiors plus our eight General Councilors:
After mass, with the cooperation of Mother Nature, we had a reception outside and then a special meal planned by Bro. Louis DeThomasis. Needless to say, it was a bit challenging to get back to work later that afternoon!
In case it’s looking like all we do is celebrate and have socials, let me assure you that our daily schedule, even on Founder’s day, keeps us hopping from the Aula Magna to our small group to another group, and then to prayer. It’s all good, but the days here are long. We spent Thursday and Friday listening to the proposals of the seven thematic groups. Next week after the elections of the Superior G, the Vicar, and the Councilors, we will get back to actually voting on which proposals will become directives going forward till the next Chapter.
Even though this Chapter and all its deliberations becomes its own world, we are ever mindful of the world “out there” and like everyone else, we Capitulants are very concerned about the kidnapped schoolgirls of Nigeria. Since the rights and concerns of young people are central to our mission, we felt obliged as Lasallians to speak out with one voice. We wrote a letter to the President of Nigeria which was delivered yesterday to the Nigerian embassy. The text of the letter can be found on the Conference website at: http://lasallian.info/2014/05/16/prayers-and-hope-continue-for-nigeria/ It really is worth your reading.
Bro. Peter Kombe from the Lwanga District (which includes Nigeria) personally delivered the letter to the embassy, and in this video he speaks both of his experience here at the Chapter as well as about the letter and its significance.
Thank you Peter for representing all of us in this most important mission!
And so ends week #4. There will be lots of news next week. We begin with a discernment retreat next Monday and move to the election of the Superior General on Tuesday and the others on Wednesday and Thursday. Keep those prayers coming!
Posted by: admin in: ● May 14, 2014
Today, Wednesday, May 14, marks the halfway point of the 45th General Chapter. In many ways, it seems as if we have all been here a long time. However, I suspect the second half of chapter will move more quickly than the first half. I must admit that this whole “paperless” plan has actually worked out amazingly well. The first question we are asked each day is whether everyone is connected. Google Drive has become a very familiar—and eminently useful and practical—part of this chapter. Hats off to Bro. Jesus Martin, Bro. Gus Sinco, and Bro. Alexander who are the core technology team. They are doing a great job!
As I mentioned in the last entry, this week is a key week as we all were assigned to one of seven thematic groups where we are drawing up proposals following a quite specific template to ensure consistency. I have the privilege of serving on the Vocation group with eleven other Brothers. Our moderator is Bro. Chris Patiño from the San Francisco District. Because he is bilingual, and most of the group are Spanish-speakers, he has proven to be a wise choice. Plus he is also a well-organized and insightful young Brother. Earlier today I asked him to share his experience of the Chapter thus far:
We really are blessed to have several young Brothers appointed to this Chapter; they add much our experience here on many levels, plus they are—to a man—wonderful Brothers.
Beginning this afternoon, each thematic group will present its proposals to the plenary (full) group of capitulants. That is when we will begin to see what concrete plans will emerge from this Chapter. Tomorrow, of course, is Founder’s Day, which will involve a mid-day liturgy with a special meal to follow. We are scheduled to have the rest of the afternoon off, unless a group needs to continue its work. Fortunately, my group is quite efficient, so I suspect we will be free—I hope!
Last Friday night at San Giuseppe, we found that with the appearance of Bro. Emmanuele, who works at San Giuseppe, several members of our SIEL group from 1990-91 were reunited for the evening. Needless to say, we all looked pretty different then, much more like the table of young Brothers in that last photo.
I think it’s time for another gelato review. On Bill Coughlan’s last evening in Rome, we went to the nearby “Al Vicoletto”; it’s close and cheap and I found the gelato very creamy and tasty. The toughest part of these visits in deciding which two or three flavors to sample. It really is hard to go wrong, although I’m partial to lampone (raspberry) combined with any variation of “cioccolata”. Your suggestions are always welcome!
On to Founder’s Day!