“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.