Long Branch, NJ – During the January 2017 intercession, seventeen (17) faculty and administrators, representatives of Bethlehem University, Christian Brothers University, La Salle University, Lewis University, Manhattan College, Saint Mary’s College of California, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota – all members of the Lasallian Association of Colleges and Universities (LACU) – gathered for a Lasallian Higher Education Colloquy (LHEC) on “Racial Justice, Diversity, Inclusion, and Mission Compatibility.” A primary purpose of the Colloquy was to provide a venue to share expertise and insights, especially with regard to the classroom and the lives of our students, as well as to explore future ways we might enhance our support of one another and our efforts going forward.
The Colloquy, held at the San Alphonso Retreat House in Long Branch, New Jersey from 10-12 January 2017, was initiated by Brother Jack Curran, FSC, of Manhattan College, and supported by the Mission Officers of LACU. Brother Ernest Miller, FSC, of La Salle University opened the Colloquy with a gathering prayer invoking wisdom from the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, the Qu’ran, and Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. Maureen O’Connell of La Salle University facilitated a session with Reverend Bryan Massingale, Fordham University professor and renowned Catholic theologian, at the opening of the Colloquy.
The sessions of the Colloquy, facilitated by Brother Peter Iorlano, FSC, of Bethlehem University, and Dr. Tim Gossen of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, provided opportunities to explore racial justice, our campus environments and hiring practices, the national political culture and the Black Lives Matter movement. Seeking to better understand from each other how and in what ways our distinctive common Lasallian heritage might influence and support our respective efforts, the participants explored the imperatives and responsibilities we have as Lasallian educators to be faithful to the heritage of John Baptist de La Salle and Catholic Social Teaching. The Colloquy participants shared the challenges and opportunities of their respective campuses in these regards.
“Indeed, our Lasallian Catholic heritage and identity inspires and challenges us for, as Dr. Jordan Pascoe of Manhattan College reminded us, ‘our mission is not neutral,’” said Brother Jack Curran, FSC, Vice President for Mission at Manhattan College, when reflecting on the gathering. “As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, there is a ‘cost to discipleship’ and our Lasallian mission invites us into action.”
To further address issues of racial justice, diversity, and inclusion rooted in Lasallian core principles and Catholic Social Teaching, a “Mission-Mandated Lasallian Vision for Racial Justice” is currently being drafted as one of the outcomes of this Colloquy.