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