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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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General Councilors Visit RELAN

The Midwest District welcomed a visit from General Councilors Brother Gustavo Ramirez and Brother Rafa Matas this past March. This visit was part of their tour of RELAN, Lasallian Region of North America, to deepen their understanding of how association for the mission is lived in the Midwest District. During their visit, they visited Lewis University, Christian Brothers Services, De La Salle Institute, the Novitiate, and the Midwest District Office. They also had the opportunity to meet the Brothers and Lay partners at the different ministries, District Council, and the Lasallian Mission Council.

To view more photos, click here.

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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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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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Visitors Meeting 2016: 2

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Just as St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican is the crossroads for Catholics from all around the world, so is our Generalate on Via Aurelia  the crossroads for Lasallians from around the world. For example, Wednesday’s lunch brought all kinds of Lasallians from the Midwest District together: Brother Louis De Thomasis, former President of SMU, who resides and works at the Generalate; Brothers Mike Quirk and Joe Saurbier, here for the International Economic Council; Roxanne Eubank and Mary Fox, (SMU), Dominic Colonna (Lewis) and  Bro. Michael French, here to prepare IALU which begins next week; and yours truly, here till next Wednesday.

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Dr. Colonna, along with Dr. Dennis Cremin (Lewis), also accompanied to Rome a group of college students from four out of our six US Lasallian universities: CBU, Lewis, Manhattan, and SMU. They stayed here at Casa La Salle, the hotel portion of the Generalate, and  left on Wednesday morning, They are pictured here with Brother Bob and me after we had the opportunity to meet with them briefly on Tuesday morning.

However, lest you think that all we do is pose for photo ops, let me assure you there is plenty of “seat time” involved in our meeting as Visitors. The General Council has designed a full daily schedule, each with a specific focus. While much of Monday was spent acclimating and checking in with each other on our own realities, Tuesday was given to presentations and conversations around the key roles of Visitors and Community Directors, while the afternoon was centered on vocation ministry, especially as we head toward 2019, “The Year of the Lasallian Vocation”.

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On Wednesday, Brother Emili, Superior General of the Marist Brothers (FMS), presented to us on leadership and association. From the photo, you can see that Lasallians and Marists are very similar; except for the word “Marist” on the slide, it could easily be our own collage. Wednesday afternoon was devoted to apostolic leadership and animating the Lasallian Mission. The session on animation involved a very good use of technology as four Lasallian Partners and one Brother shared via prerecorded video their experiences in the District of ARLEP (Spain and Portugal). Each one ended with a set of questions for us as Visitors.

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One of the striking things about the Motherhouse or Generalate these days is all the changes that have happened since the General Chapter two years ago. The basic thrust is that everything has been moved to “Blocco A” or the central wing of the very large and sprawling building. This makes sense on lots of levels, plus it utilizes much underused space. The basement or lower level, which used to be dark and dingy with lots of empty space, is now sleek and modern-looking. The new “Trinity chapel” was recently dedicated; the photo above is the window that faces the hallway.

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This shot of the altar, tabernacle, and back wall shows the beautiful new icon that serves as the focal point of the chapel. Based on Rublev’s famous icon, the colors and images are very striking. The roses are from the gardens on our property.

Please continue to keep us in prayer as we attempt to tackle “the big questions” that face our Institute and our thriving Lasallian Family.

-BL

 

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