Denver, CO – More than sixty Lasallians from the District of Eastern North America (DENA) were among the more than 200 people who gathered for the 44th annual Huether Lasallian Conference November 16-18, 2017 at the Grand Hyatt Denver in Colorado.
Attendees explored the theme “One Call, Many Voices: Dialogue, Inspire, Transform” to consider the role Lasallians play in being contemporary Good Shepherds to those who are entrusted to our care. The theme was inspired by the Lasallian Reflection for the 2016-2017 liturgical year, “One Call, Many Voices.”
Through keynote addresses, breakout sessions, smaller casa group discussions, and time spent with fellow Lasallians, participants were reinvigorated in their vocation. For many, a highlight was being able to connect with other Lasallians.
“I think it’s important to know that we’re all in this together,” said Lois Harr, assistant vice president of campus ministry and social action at Manhattan College in Riverdale, New York. “I’m not by myself and there are people I can call and ask a question or just know that there are a whole lot of people all over the world and we’re all doing this together.”
Before the conference officially kicked off Thursday evening, 75 Lasallians gathered for a first-time attendee social. Then all participants came together for the opening session, which included an address by Brother Ernest Miller, FSC, D.Min., vice president for mission at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Mike Daniels, Ed.D., director of the Office for Education in the District of San Francisco New Orleans, and included Br. Thomas Casey, FSC, one of our District’s two Auxiliary Visitors.
Over the course of the conference, attendees heard from two keynote speakers. Christian Brothers Services sponsored the keynote by Ann Garrido, D.Min., associate professor of homiletics at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri who invited participants into a discussion around difficult conversations. Elizabeth Huntley, J.D., litigation attorney and child advocate, author and lecturer from Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC in Birmingham, Alabama gave a powerful address on her troubled upbringing and the life-changing impact educators had on her.
“These were the two most powerful speakers that I thought that we’ve ever had [at Huether],” said William Gault, executive director of The De La Salle School in Freeport, New York. “We’ve had great speakers, but in combination, these two were dynamic. I think anytime you tell your life story and you give it with heart, you’ve got a captive audience, and Liz [Huntley] certainly did that. She was amazing.”
Attendees gathered in casa communities, twice by like ministries and once by District, in order to discuss the messages heard in the keynote addresses and breakout sessions. For the DENA casa gathering, our Lasallian Educators were asked to provide their unique perspectives and experience and provide insights for our District’s Strategic Plan.
“In these casa conversations, to be able to really interact to see the differences in what people do in the mission depending on what school you’re in is very exciting,” said Alana Parenteau, principal of De La Salle Middle School at La Salle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island.
Huether came to a close Saturday evening with the Distinguished Lasallian Educator Awards Banquet to celebrate outstanding educators in the Lasallian Region of North America, including those from DENA: Brother Joseph Brienza, FSC, guidance counselor at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft, New Jersey; Maureen O’Connell, Ph.D., associate professor of Christian ethics and chair of religion at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Robert T. Scott, AFSC, president of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, New York.
For a second consecutive year, Lasallians took part in a pre-conference advancement track on Wednesday and Thursday which included a networking reception, a keynote address by Colleen O’Grady, philanthropic strategist at Lipman Hearne, Inc. in Chicago, Illinois, and four sets of breakout sessions.
Huether, hosted by the Office for Lasallian Education at Christian Brothers Conference, is an opportunity for educators not only to learn new techniques and find inspiration, but to build community, share best practices, and grow more deeply committed to their vocation of providing students with transformative, holistic experiences.
The 2017 conference marked the first time Huether has been held in Denver. The 2018 and 2019 gatherings will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota.