On Sunday July 18th, 126 students, faculty, and Brothers convened for five days of service, reflection, and social justice education at the annual Lasallian Youth Assembly. Students from across the District of Eastern North America called Bryant University in Smithfield Rhode Island their home for this week long retreat.

Lasallian high school students spent the mornings and early afternoons at various service sites, caring for children, aiding the homeless, and assisting the mentally and physically handicapped. Students then met back at the University, first for educational seminars on social justice issues, like fair trade, and children’s’ rights, followed by reflection on their service experiences, sharing their personal stories and encounters. Together students explored what they learned, and how their experiences have started to shape them. Vocation, and understanding where each students’ strengths and talents may help others, was also discussed. All of this service and reflection is presented with an understanding that God is at the center of all activities.


“The Christian Call of Vocation” – Br. James Dries, FSC, District of Eastern North America

Brother James explored the call to vocation, first by explaining the circumstances and experiences of Saint John Baptist de La Salle’s in a brief overview of his life, and the history of The Brothers. Following a video entitled “Three Key Questions” by Father Michael Hines of Boston College, four speakers were invited share their vocational stories.

  • Father Greg Stowe, Chaplin at St. Raphael’s Academy – Pawtucket, Rhode Island
  • Mr. Tom Devlin, Campus Minister at La Salle College High School – Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania
  • Sister Ann McGovern, Sister of Mercy and Vocation Minister – Rhode Island
  • Brother Michael Kramer, at Calvert Hall – Towson, Maryland

“Coffee, Tea, and Chocolate” – Peter Buck, Equal Exchange

Equal Exchange’s mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through…success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

  • Trade directly with democratically organized small farmer cooperatives.

  • Facilitate access to credit for producer organizations.

  • Pay producers a guaranteed minimum price that provides a stable source of income as well as improved social services.

  • Provide high quality food products.

  • Support sustainable farming practices.

  • Build a democratically-run cooperative workplace.

  • Develop more environmentally-sound business practices.

“On the Rights of Children” – Jimmie Briggs, Co-Director of the Man Up Campaign

As Human Rights Activist, former UNCIEF Goodwill Ambassador, and journalist, Jimmie Briggs shared with the Assembly his experiences and stories while investigating and reporting on child soldiers who participated in conflicts within the countries of Afghanistan, Uganda, Rwanda, Columbia, and Sri Lanka. Briggs’ witness to child abuses and neglect painted a very real picture for Assembly particpants, and the crucial need for reform and advocacy for the rights of children.

Man Up is a global campaign to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. This summer, Man Up brought together a prestigious team of delegates, along with artists, athletes and activists to launch a five-year campaign at an inaugural Young Leaders Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2014 this same group of Man Up Delegates will gather again at World Cup 2014 in Brazil to share their experiences, build community, and further develop methodologies to strengthen their efforts.

This is a bold initiative and the first of its kind in that it is both youth led and informed. Over the course of the next five years and beyond Man Up will continue to expand both its resources and presence to build a worldwide community around its cause. Man Up Campaign continues to grow as partners, athletes, musicians, young leaders join its team in tackling violence against women and girls.