Twin Lasallian Events in the Twin Cities

IMG_2293Eighty years! On Sunday, September 21, 2014, Brothers and Lasallians gathered at Holy Family Residence in St. Paul to celebrate Brother Basil’s 80th Anniversary as a Christian Brother. Bro. Basil is 97 years old and was in great form on Sunday. Following the morning liturgy was a special lunch, and then a reception. Many of Bro. Basil’s former students and colleagues dropped by to congratulate him.

Brother Basil thanking the crowd.

Brother Basil thanking the crowd.

Renee Miller says this about Brother Basil: “In my years of employment at Derham Hall, Cretin’s neighbor, I often came in contact with Brother Basil. He was the principal for part of the time my son was a student at Cretin. I remember him as kind yet firm, soft spoken but easily understood, good humored and someone to both look up to and command attention.” I must say that the traits she mentions are as true today as they were then. Hats off to a truly amazing Christian Brother who has touched so many lives and served in so many roles, including Visitor and college president!

On Wednesday, September 24, the second annual Lasallian Day was held at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. A highlight of the event was an all-school liturgy during which two Lasallians were affiliated into the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

Richard "Dick" Engler, AFSC, and Maria "Lupe" Ramirez, AFSC

Richard “Dick” Engler, AFSC, and Maria “Lupe” Ramirez, AFSC

Dick Engler has served as Principal and then President of Cretin-Derham Hall for 25 years. He will retire at the end of this school year. Lupe Ramirez has served the Brothers for most of her life as a cook in various communities in the Twin Cities; she recently retired as cook for the DeLaSalle Community in Minneapolis. Through their many years of outstanding service and association with the Brothers, both of these new affiliates have truly lived and embodied the spirit of the Brothers.

Brothers and Affiliated Brothers at Lasallian Day 2014

Brothers and Affiliated Brothers at Lasallian Day 2014

Lasallian Day also included a brief report and update from representatives of each of the seven ministries in the Twin Cities area.

Dr. Kevin Gyolai, President of Benilde-St. Margaret's.

Dr. Kevin Gyolai, President of Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

Dr. Craig Junker, President of Totino-Grace HS.

Dr. Craig Junker, President of Totino-Grace HS.

A special THANKS to both the Little Sisters of the Poor and Cretin-Derham Hall for hosting these two splendid Lasallian events. And THANKS to everyone who participated!







Lewis University Provost receives highest honor bestowed by Christian Brothers

Romeoville, IL. — Dr. Stephany Schlachter, Affiliation Stephany Schlachter (1)Provost of Lewis University, was affiliated to the Institute on Saturday, September 6, during a liturgy at Sancta Alberta Chapel on the campus of Lewis University. Members of her family, several Lewis University faculty and staff members, and many Brothers attended the late afternoon ceremony. Fr. Raymond Webb, AFSC, Chairperson, Department of Pastoral Theology and Canon Law at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, presided at the mass.

Dr. Schlachter has been extraordinary in discerning where the Spirit is leading the Lewis University community, and she is exceptional in her ability to invite and encourage others to integrate Lasallian values into all levels of education and everyday life on campus. She has participated in the Buttimer Institute and received the Brother Louis De La Salle Ministry of Teaching Award from Lewis. The Midwest District also honored her with the Distinguished Lasallian Education Award.

She has been sought as a speaker and author and has presented on various Lasallian topics at national conferences, including programs for the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the Higher Learning Commission, the Council of Independent Colleges, and at various national Lasallian forums. Recognized as an international leader and resource on Lasallian research, she presented a major address on “What Is Lasallian Research?” at the International Association of Lasallian Universities General Assembly in Manila in 2012.


Two in Saint Mary’s community receive highest honor bestowed by Christian Brothers

Tony and MaryWINONA, Minn. — Two dedicated and treasured colleagues at Saint Mary’s University, Tony Piscitiello and Mary Catherine Fox, Ph.D., have become part of the largest congregation of Brothers in the Catholic Church that is devoted exclusively to education. On Monday, Aug. 4, the two longtime champions of education on Saint Mary’s Winona campus became affiliated members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools at a special ceremony held in Saint Thomas More Chapel.

Affiliation is the highest and rarest honor bestowed by The De La Salle Christian Brothers. By affiliation, men and women, lay, religious, and members of the clergy are made members of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. At great personal sacrifice, affiliated members have participated to an extraordinary degree in the life and work of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Fox and Piscitiello live the reality of faith, service and community on a daily basis.

Fox is a well-respected 1975 graduate of Saint Mary’s and has been employed at her alma mater since 1990, serving as dean of the School of Business, Computer Science and Media Communications; vice president for University Relations; and professor of Interdisciplinary Studies. She was a delegate to the De La Salle Christian Brothers USA/Toronto Regional Assembly in 2005 and the 1st International Assembly on Association & Mission in 2006. She served on the first Midwest District Mission Council including a term as chair, and has also served on the board of directors for Saint Mary’s Press. She received a Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award at the Huether Conference in 2013. She serves on the advisory board of the Institute for Lasallian Studies at Saint Mary’s, and has presented at both the International Leadership Conference of the International Association of Lasallian Universities and the Regional Lasallian Leadership Institute.

Piscitiello, a Catholic layman, has in thought, word and action helped the presidents of the university to ensure the future of the Lasallian Catholic educational mission at Saint Mary’s. He has served on numerous committees and task forces of the university and has been, for generations of Saint Mary’s graduates, the welcoming face of the university. In addition, he has served on the boards of directors of Cotter High School, Saint Mary’s Elementary Catholic School, and the Winona Area Catholic Schools Foundation and on the boards of advisors of Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. He received the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award at Saint Mary’s University on Founders’ Day in 2013. Piscitiello received his undergraduate degree in 1969 and his master’s in 1982, both from Saint Mary’s University.

The letters of affiliation, signed by then Superior General Brother Álvaro Rodríguez Echeverría, read:

“I, the undersigned Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, acknowledge with joy and gratitude your outstanding collaboration with our Institute, the quality of your personal life inspired by Lasallian spirituality, and your active and long-lasting participation in our work of education. My Council and I wish to demonstrate our gratitude by associating you more closely with our religious family, and by presenting you with the present Letter of Affiliation. As an affiliated member, you share in the spiritual benefits of the prayers and apostolic activities of all those who are serving in the Lasallian mission, and of the Brothers of the Institute…”

Press Release From:
Deborah Nahrgang 
Communication Director, Saint Mary’s University


Brother Tom Harding new president of Saint Joseph H.S.

Dear Lasallians,
As of today, Brother Tom Harding is the new president of Saint Joseph High School in Westchester, Il.


Please keep Bro. Tom and the St. Joe’s school community in your prayers during this transition time.


Here is the link to the St. Joe’s website:


Brother Larry Schatz, FSC
Provincial/Brother Visitor
Christian Brothers of the Midwest

2014 Lasallian Advancement Conference

“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.

DSCN1106 DSCN1142






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.


GC45: Arrivederci Roma

Sunday afternoon on the Tiber

Sunday afternoon on the Tiber

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.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon

The Dome of the Pantheon

The Dome of the Pantheon

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!)

Lampone e Straciatella (raspberry and chocolate chip): bellissimo!

lampone e straciatella (raspberry and chocolate chip): bellissimo! (a selfie)

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.

A scene from our closing prayer, as we each tied a ribbon the our Parmenie cross.

A scene from our closing prayer, as we each tied a ribbon to our Parmenie cross.

The next morning.

The next morning.

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.

We did it!

We did it!

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!

IMG_1277Live Jesus in our hearts.



Your blogger at work

Your blogger at work



GC45: Winding Down

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.

Our wonderful IT-Communications Team, with our own Brother Gus playing a key role

Our wonderful IT-Communications Team, with our own Brother Gus playing a key role

Brothers of thew Central Community, including RELAN Bros. Craig and Louis.

Brothers of thew Central Community, including RELAN Bros. Craig and Louis.

We salute our many helpers here in the Generalate.

We salute our many helpers here in 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.

Bro. Armand (Midwest) here from IALU joined last night's RELAL party.

Bro. Armand (Midwest) here for IALU joined last night’s RELAL party. He joins Brothers Diego, Arsenio, Jhonmar, and Antonio.



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!



GC45: The Final Week!

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.

Our GC45 translators, with Bro. John Blease (Midwest) nearest the camera. THANKS-GRACIAS_MERCI!

Our GC45 translators, with Bro. John Blease (Midwest) nearest the camera. THANKS-GRACIAS-MERCI!

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!

A "selfie" of our group; I guess that would actually be a "groupie", right? (Gracias, Hno. Arsenio)

A “selfie” of our group; I guess that would actually be a “groupie”, right? (Gracias, Hno. Arsenio)

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”.

Our new Institute leadership team at a special mass in their honor: Bros. Bob, Jorge, Aidan, Pierre, Tim, and Paulo.

Our new Institute leadership team at a special mass in their honor: Bros. Bob, Jorge, Aidan, Pierre, Tim, and Paulo.

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.





GC45: All About The Rule

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.

Bro. Ricky "visits" the Aula Magna.

Bro. Ricky “visits” the Aula Magna.

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:

Our group.

Our working group.

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:

Beer from the Philippines with a special appeal to Lasallians!

Beer from the Philippines with a special appeal to Lasallians!

We were each given a beautiful "PARC" scarf.

We were each given a beautiful “PARC” scarf. (Bros. Alberto, Belayneh, and Diego.)

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:

Bravo, Hermano!

All right, back to work…




GC45: Rule Revision Week 1

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.

_MG_7276_MG_7258One of the Young Brother capitulants is Bro. Anthony from the Lwanga District. Here is his take on the Chapter to date and on the work we are embarking upon today.

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:

IMG_3107_1098Si=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.

IMG_3111_1102Once 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!)

Brothers Nelson, Edgar, and Paulo, all Germans from the Brazil-Chile District. Paulo is also Nelson's uncle.

Brothers Nelson, Edgar, and Paulo, all Germans from the Brazil-Chile District. Paulo is also Nelson’s uncle.

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.

You can see the top of St. Peter's dome oin the center; that lets you know we are "uphill" from the Vatican.

You can just see the top of St. Peter’s dome in the center; that lets you know we are “uphill” from the Vatican.

Dusk over the Generalate Chapel.

Dusk over the Generalate Chapel.

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.