It’s dawn at O’Hare. I’m sitting at gate K1 in Terminal 3 waiting to board my 8:05 flight to New Orleans for the RCCB meeting. That’s “Lasallianspeak” for the gathering of the Visitors and Auxiliary Visitors of the Region along with members of the Conference Staff and Bro. Bob Schieler. I’m facing the windows, and the sky really is lovely with its hues of pink and gray above the tailfins of the American Airlines jets lined up at their gates.
These last few weeks have been filled with all sorts of meetings, all of them good and productive, all of them tiring. I guess this will be more or less my life for the next few years. Not to worry. In between all those meetings, there is “down time”, time to re-energize and touch base. In fact, the RCCB meetings don’t start till tomorrow evening. I’ve never visited New Orleans save for a couple hours between flights back in 1985. So, I’ll play tourist for a day and a half.
One thing I like about airport time is it gives me time to catch up with myself. These last few weeks have been filled with meetings, yes, but also with some golden moments that I want to share with you, mainly because they reveal a lot about all the good things going on all around our District.
This is a photo of Bro. Pius Kemphafner with two of his therapists, Jen and Angela. After a near brush with death last summer, he has devoted himself to getting well so he can return to his beloved ministry in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. I visited him recently in Memphis, and from the minute I walked in the door, everyone at the Highlands facility was singing his praises. It was very clear that while they wanted him to go and get on with his life, they really didn’t want to see him leave. Talk about touching hearts! Pius is at Lambert Hall now, adjusting to a different setting and pace. No doubt he will continue to be a blessing to so many of us with his determination and positive energy.
Recently Saint Mary’s University renamed the New Village the Residencia Santiago Miller. This was the initiative of President Brother William Mann in discussion with current residents. Brother James Miller (Santiago in Spanish), who was killed in Guatemala in 1982, is a graduate of SMU and is also on his way to canonization. It remains to be seen what name will finally “stick” for the village, because “The New” has been its moniker for so long, but it certainly is a fitting tribute to Bro. Jim to have part of SMU named in his honor.
Part of my new gig is serving as a trustee for our three splendid universities. Last week I was at CBU and our board meeting began with a bit of Lasallian formation. The presenter was Bro. Robert Werle, District Archivist, and he brought along a “special guest”, a French priest named Jean-Baptiste de La Salle. You may have heard of him. Bob very cleverly introduced all of us to this most remarkable individual. His insights and perspective on the Founder’s story were a delight to hear, and what a treat to have Fr. De La Salle with us, even in his two-dimensional guise!
Last week when I got back to the office, I had a voice mail from a young man named Gabriel who is a grad student at the University of Minnesota. Turns out he is a young Lasallian from Colombia and has worked with our postulants there. He is pursuing a Masters in Multicultural Education and asked me for permission to visit some of our Lasallian communities in the Twin Cities. Since I ended up in Minneapolis last weekend, I arranged to meet with him and brought him over to De La Salle where he met the Brothers and four very energetic Lasallian Volunteers. LV Jose Manuel gave us a tour of De, and then we showed Gabriel the new statue in Brothers Park right off the new football stadium behind the school. This happens to be Diversity Week at De, so I hope Gabriel can make some more Lasallian connections during his time in “el norte”.
Last Sunday, I joined the DeLaSalle Community as brunch guests of Br. Jerome Cox (creator of The Brother), whose mother died recently. Her house—and the place he stays when he is in his hometown of Minneapolis—is only a few blocks from De in the fabled “Nordeast” neighborhood of Minneapolis. After a delicious brunch, Jerome took us into a rather cramped basement with—at least for this tall soul—a very low ceiling and a season-appropriate collection of cobwebs. This cluttered cellar is where Bro. Jerome has created many of his signature works. Here he is showing us some of his work.
And finally, this front-page story! Thanks to a computer at the Tribune Building in Chicago, the international Brothers who came with Bro. Pat to visit Chicago a few weekends ago made the news. Pictured are: Brothers Diego (Colombia), Christy (Sri Lanka), Fredy (India) and Jesus (Spain) along with the Midwest Trio of Bros. Pat, Mike French, and yours truly. It was great fun showing them the many sights of downtown Chicago on a lovely fall Saturday.
Just a reminder to all of us that the De La Salle community in Minneapolis will host some 30 Lasallian Volunteers this weekend for the Halloween Marathon. They will be “running scared” on Saturday, so let’s cheer them on. And maybe even donate to the cause!
Yesterday, our yard crew uprooted the last of my vegetable garden. They even found a few more cucumbers. It was a long prolific growing season. No frost yet in Chicago, but one of these days….
Ever onward. Happy Halloween.