Lincroft, NJ – The District of Eastern North America had the privilege of being the first stop for Brothers Gustavo Ramirez and Rafa Matas in their visit to the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN). As General Councilors, for Association and Mission, and for Lasallian Family and Vocations, respectively, Brothers Gustavo and Rafa are traveling the Lasallian Institute with four main goals:
- To learn how Association is understood and lived in the District;
- To support and to encourage the efforts aimed at strengthening Association in the District;
- To accompany significant experiences of Association in the District;
- To gather information that will enable us to present orientations for formation initiatives for Associates.
Although their visit was short, the General Councilors were afforded many opportunities to meet with and discuss Lasallian Association with many Brothers and Partners-in-Mission from Friday, March 17 – Wednesday, March 22.
Arriving on Friday afternoon, the General Councilors would spend the evening with the Senior Brother at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft, before their Saturday morning gathering with the Lasallian Association of Metropolitan Ministries (LAMM) hosted at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, Brooklyn. Over 15 members of LAMM (as well as a Rhode Island Lasallian Association Group [RILAG] Lasallian Volunteer from the San Miguel School of Providence, Julia Turner) attended this beautifully spirited gathering that began with an association-themed prayer service in the Loughlin Chapel (coordinated by Loughlin President, Br. Dennis Cronin) and continued with an association-focused discussion led by the Councilors over lunch. The discussion addressed key contemporary issues that our Lasallian mission faces such as the role of the Partner, the role of Brother (particularly the future identity of the young Brother), and international formation programs (to name a few of the items that had been discussed). Br. Rafa concluded with the key point: Association must be work from “the heart,” not just the mind.
Back in Lincroft for Sunday evening, the Provincialate community hosted a reception for the General Councilors and members of the District Council and Mission Executive Council. The General Councilors would meet with the Mission Executive Council and District Council in a combined meeting on Monday, March 20. Presentations and discussions of the current and hopeful future realities of Lasallian Association took place among more the 25 Brothers and Lay Partners. The General Councilors also layed our preliminary plans and projects from the Generalate to help continue fostering association throughout the Institute.
The Philadelphia Area Lasallian Ministries’ (PALM) annual Lenten Gathering on Tuesday March 21 at La Salle University began with Evensong in the Chapel of La Salle University followed by dinner and discussion with the General Councilors, following an earlier meeting with the University’s President, Colleen Hanycz. After a brief introduction and history of PALM, Molly McKeogh shared the work of Young Lasallians and the District Steering Committee, and Br. Brian Henderson talked about his work in accompanying Young Lasallian Professionals. The Councilors were happy to hear about the associative groups and encouraged PALM to continue to their good work and be creative in mission.
A jam packed schedule, Brothers Gustavo and Rafa would continue their RELAN trip on Wednesday, headed to the San Francisco New Orleans District.