Welcome to the Lasallian Companions!
We welcome you to the new program of the District for retired Lasallians, both Brothers and Partners. As many of us who have been committed to the Mission throughout our careers and who have been transformed by the formation programs we have experienced find ourselves retired from active ministry, we may find that we want to stay connected to that Mission. Lasallian Companions is the link to enable that connection.
Lasallian Companions (LC) provides opportunities for retired Lasallians to be of service to the District and to local ministries. This service might include mentoring young teachers, being a spiritual companion to a teacher or administrator, responding online to individuals participating in the online formation program, or other forms of service.
In addition, Lasallian Companions might provide a place for online, conference call, or video call discussions of books, documents from the Institute, or other professional or spiritual reading. Encouraging retired Lasallians in their unique station in life is one of the primary purposes of this group with the means to accomplish that still evolving.
Please visit this page frequently to see what is going on, to contact us with input and questions, or to share ideas with other retired Lasallians.
Service Project in Guatemala
By: Bob Ortbal
For the last seven years, in the month of January, I have accompanied a group of 25 seniors from Rockhurst (Jesuit) High School in Kansas City in a service project in San Andrés Itzapa, Guatemala. Several faculty members and former faculty members accompany the young men. Among the adult leaders, three of us are former Christian Brothers: Bill Munninghoff (’66-novitiate), Mike Heringer (’68) and myself (’66). Prior to this trip I had a number of mission experiences in Guatemala. The first was substituting for a Christian Brother on a sabbatical during the summer of 1970 in Zacapa, Guatemala. Over the years, I also made a number of trips to Guatemala City related to my work in the insurance industry. Because I am fluent in Spanish, Bill Munninghoff invited me to join them on this week long service project. Bill’s parish in Kansas City, St. Thomas More, has sent parish groups for almost thirty years to participate in projects while lodging in a Carmelite sisters’ convent. Bill was formerly a guidance counselor at Rockhurst and proposed to Rockhurst a service trip for seniors to San Andrés.
Each day, women from the community arrive at the convent. Their husbands are already working in distant fields. With groups of five to six Rockhurst seniors we accompany the women to their homes. The groups build masonry stoves, chicken coups (later supplying the chickens), and install concrete floors. The students mix the concrete for the stoves, lay some of the bricks with the aid of a local mason, and assemble the wooden chicken coups. While working on the projects, some students play with and entertain the children.
At a local school for handicapped children the students offer a full morning of painting, repairing windows, cleaning bathrooms and cleaning up the school’s garden. The school is then in top shape to receive its students for the second semester.
Sunday morning we attend Mass at the village church of San Andrés. We are a conspicuous group amidst the native Guatemalans. After Mass we accompany ministers of communion, setting off in smaller groups to take a large bag of staples to the homes of people who are shut-ins and extremely needy. The warmth with which we are invited into their humble homes, as well as the profound gratitude of the families, is gratifying. The families share touching stories of their lives.
Typically during our stay, a soccer match between the students and the locals takes place at the community soccer stadium. Soccer is Guatemala’s premier sport so, while the Rockhurst men give a good showing, the locals remain undefeated.
Our meals are prepared by the Carmelite sisters. The convent has dorms for visitors/volunteers. The cheerfulness of the sisters and their eagerness to serve makes them a favorite part of the experience. Each evening Mike, also a retired guidance counselor, leads a reflection period in the convent chapel. We ask the students to write about their experience in a journal.
Our last full day is a boat excursion on Lake Atitlan, an iconic image of Guatemala. A brief stop in Santiago La Laguna gives them a chance to explore the local market and pick up a souvenir. The boat also stops briefly to allow the students a swim along the lake shore. Upon returning to the convent the students are treated by the sisters to a feast of Guatemalan dishes. The following morning the group heads to the Guatemala City airport where they catch a flight back to KC.
For three years I elected to remain in Guatemala another full week returning to Lake Atitlan. There I participated in service projects with a non-profit organization called the Guatemala Housing Alliance (Construyendo Alianzas– “Building Alliances” in Spanish). It is similar to Habitat for Humanity in constructing decent housing for very poor families. GHA also provides scholarships to over 60 students in and around the Lake Atitlan region, an area inhabited by predominantly poor indigenous families.
As a young Christian Brother I entertained the idea of someday being a missionary teacher in Guatemala. My path in life turned out not to include service as a religious missionary. Nevertheless, I find in the programs and projects I have participated in the last few years to bring the kind of rewards and satisfaction that I sought in my dreams of being a missionary. I feel a strong kinship with the marvelous people I encounter in Guatemala. I am privileged to be a part of the Rockhurst and Guatemala Housing Alliance programs which every year strengthen that bond of affection and service.
Lasallian Companions Leadership Group Meets
The members of the Lasallian Companions Leadership Group met at Lewis University on July 19 and 20, 2019. Br Chris Englert, Auxiliary Visitor, joined the group for the first day of meetings. He will be the new District Office contact for Lasallian Companions.
Br. Dennis Galvin joined the group on Saturday to discuss the busy persons retreat named “Parmenie on Wheels.” This retreat involves a trained person or two going into a ministry to be available for those who would like to talk to someone about a wide variety of issues. These might be personal, professional, or spiritual issues. In schools, these meetings would take place during planning periods and usually occur on two consecutive days. Following the first day, the facilitator would provide a reading for the individual and ask that that person spend some time that evening reading and reflecting on the reading. The next day, the two would discuss the individual’s concerns in light of the reading and reflection. Both Montini High School and Lewis University have done this retreat. Br. Dennis and the Leadership Group are committed to exploring this as a service opportunity for Lasallian Companions. Jan Mines will be in charge of working with Br. Dennis on this program.
Br. Chuck Gregor proposed a podcast project designed to record the voices of Lasallian Partners in much the same way Br. Armand has done with the Brothers. Since the late ‘80s, the Institute has experienced a great deal of development in terms of association and our understanding of shared mission. Br. Chuck wants to be sure to capture this experience. Mary Fox and Marianne Stich will be working with Br. Chuck on this project.
If you live in the Chicago area, be looking for an email from David Hotek about a gathering on November 6 at the District Office. Join us for seeing old friends and making new ones. Contact David Hotek if you do not hear from him.
We are attempting to find a way to be sure that the website is kept up to date. This post is the first step. We will post the notes of our meetings each time (about 3-4 times per year) to keep you up on what is going on. Also, we will begin a feature to change every two months about a retired Lasallian who is involved in the mission in some way. We hope you will find ways to do so as well and keep us informed about what you are doing.
Finally, we know that there are people who have just retired. We are asking that if you know some of these people that you share the website with them. We also ask that you send us their name, former ministry, and email address. We’d love to add them to our list.
For any questions, please contact one of the Group members listed on this webpage.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts!
The Steering Committee is currently responsible for spreading the word about Lasallian Companions and providing leadership in creating resources and opportunities along with maintaining records of interested individuals.
Please feel free to contact any of these people with questions and/or comments.
(L-R) Bob Orbtal, Marianne Stich, Jan Mines, David Hotek,
Mary Catherine Fox, Br. Michael Kadow, and Paul Kraus
Interested? Let us know!
Online Formation Program: Marianne Stich is currently working with a group of online formation program participants by responding to posts and making other comments via the Discus app. For additional information about this project, contact Marianne at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Mary’s University Retired Lasallians Group: Mary Catherine Fox is currently part of a group of retired faculty and staff from St. Mary’s University in Minnesota who meet periodically for lunch or other social outings. For information, contact Mary at: email@example.com.
Lewis University International Students Group: Jan Mines is currently working with a program for international students at Lewis. If you are interested in this group, contact Jan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Service Mentoring at CBCHS: Paul Kraus is currently working with students and faculty at CBC on service projects. Paul is especially involved in the Task Sports Camps for special needs kids Contact Paul for further information at: PaulK@tasksports.onmicrosoft.com.
Staff Mentoring: Bob Ortbal is currently mentoring staff and volunteers at the David Darst Center. To find out more about this project, contact Bob at: email@example.com.
Spiritual Mentoring and Retreat Programming: David Hotek is working with faculty, staff, and students in the areas of spiritual mentoring and retreats. To find out more about what David is doing, contact him at: David.Hotek@stjosephhighschool.onmicrosoft.com.