Brs. David Van Hollebeke, FSC, and James Wallace, FSC, follow the cross-bearer during a religious procession through The Quad at Manhattan College.
La Salle University students join in song during a student retreat.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools are blessed to have two of the finest institutions of higher learning within the District of Eastern North America. For more than 150 years, both La Salle University in Philadelphia and Manhattan College in the Riverdale section of New York City have borne the standard of a true Lasallian education. They have provided top-notch “human and Christian education” to extremely diverse student bodies.
Each of these mid-size institutions of higher learning provides a beautiful campus setting in the heart of one of the most prominent cultural centers in the country. Combined with a first-rate, dedicated, and caring faculty, this allows them to provide a premier academic experience with the personal attention found at smaller schools. La Salle University and Manhattan College continue to receive awards, accolades and recognition for their academic programs, student return on investment (ROI), graduate employment rate and earning potential, transition experience for transfer students and veterans, etc. These honors have been given by recognized surveyors including Money Magazine, Georgetown University, Forbes, Brookings Institute, U.S. News and World Report, and many others.
Moreover, characteristics that set these schools above others and create a unique, truly Lasallian experience are their dedication to faith and service. Both schools provide spiritual growth opportunities through prayer, retreats, personal counseling, and peer support. Volunteer and service-learning opportunities also abound with on-campus, local, national, and international programs. Within just this past year, Manhattan College was recognized as a “Top School for Service” by The Catholic Volunteer Network, and La Salle University was named a “Community Engaged University” by the Carnegie Foundation.
The faculty, staff, administrators, and volunteer leadership of these two renowned higher ed institutions create an amazing array of knowledge, talent, devotion, faith, and zeal. A hallmark of these Lasallian educational communities is caring for our students and instilling in them a sincere concern for others. While there are so many fine leadership examples, we will mention just a couple here.
Brother Robert Kinzler, FSC, Director of University Ministry and Service at La Salle, has developed programs for non-Catholics, started a Spanish Mass, began a peer minister program, and launched the very successful Signum Fidei learning community—a living experience that allows students to explore the concepts of Faith, Service and Community.
“Many of our local service projects involve working side by side with neighbors and partners; not just doing something for them. It is service with—not for—our neighborhood and city, and that is Lasallian service at its best,” said Br. Robert. “It is one of our key values that we take care of each other and that we stand in solidarity with those who are marginalized within society. That happens every day on this campus.”
Another such individual is Mrs. Lois Harr, Assistant Vice President/Campus Ministry and Social Action at Manhattan College. Among other things, she has planned and participated in service immersion trips to Ecuador, Kenya, Rwanda, Haiti and the West Bank through the Lasallian Outreach Volunteer Experience (L.O.V.E.) program of the college.
Mrs. Harr points to the words of Saint John Paul II, who said we should fast from indifference, and take on solidarity. He said that solidarity, “is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”
A very recent example of the selflessness and community spirit witnessed on our campuses came with the onset of the Covid-19 crisis.
When the pandemic hit the Philadelphia and New York City communities this spring, our campuses were shuttered, and learning became virtual. However, our students, Brothers, and faculty still worked together to help those most affected by the pandemic. Money and food were donated to support on-campus and local food pantries. Gloves and masks were collected and donated. Among other efforts, members of both educational communities also have been using their 3-D printers (which were dormant due to virtual learning) to produce face shields for first responders at local hospitals.
The pandemic has also seen our Christian Brothers making an online presence with virtual prayers, and faculty sending videos of encouragement for our students.
For more than a century and a half, these two institutions have put into practice the prayer of our Founder, St. John Baptist de La Salle, “God of love, set me aflame with love for you and for my neighbor.”
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