Opening School Mass
& Covenant Signing

August 6, 2021 at 10AM EDT

The 700 student K-12 school becomes the newest member of DENA’s family of ministries.

Eatontown, NJ – The Brothers of the Christian Schools, District of Eastern North America (DENA), is proud to announce that the Lasallian educational community of Colegio De La Salle in Bayamón, Puerto Rico will join its family of more than thirty-five ministries.

Sunday, August 1, 2021, Colegio De La Salle officially became the newest member of DENA. Founded in 1961 by Cuban Brother exiles, the school was part of the Antilles District until 2008, when that District was merged with South Mexico to form the District of Antilles-South Mexico (DAMS). The school will be DENA’s first K-12 and will have a co-ed enrollment this year of more than seven hundred and twenty-five students.

“We are very excited to partner yet again with the District of Antilles-South Mexico, said Br. Dennis Lee, FSC, Provincial/Visitor of DENA. “There was a need for this ministry in a territory of the United States to be part of a United States based District, and we are happy to answer that call.”

As a territory of the U.S., Puerto Rico and Colegio De La Salle’s educational curriculum follows that of the United States. Instruction is mostly in Spanish and is the day-to-day language of the school, but English is taught at every grade level, English textbooks are used in a number of classes, and almost all students and faculty are English literate.

“Our Lasallian educational mission is one that goes far beyond the geographic borders of DENA,” said Br. Dennis. “Whether in our partnership with DAMS to aid our De La Salle Christian Brother/Lasallian ministries in Haiti, or in collaboration with the Lwanga District of English-speaking Africa to create global connections and opportunities for young people through our Twinning program, Lasallian education calls us be of service to all our brothers and sisters.”

“I’m particularly grateful for the service of DENA’s Mr. Alan Weyland, Executive Director of the Office for Mission & Ministry, Br. Joseph Juliano, FSC, Director of Administration, and Br. Robert Wickman, FSC, Auxiliary Visitor for Boards and Special Projects, for making the transfer of Colegio De La Salle from DAMS to DENA possible,” added Br. Dennis. “Their expertise, hard work, and continued communication with our counterparts in Puerto Rico created the foundation on which we stand to be of service to our Lasallian family in Bayamón.”

“The educational and political realities are such that Colegio De La Salle joining our District just made sense,” said Mr. Alan Weyland. “The educational community of De La Salle is open and interested in building connections with schools in their new District, and we are excited about the new dimension the school will bring to DENA!”

Led by the Head of School, Mr. Pedro Hernández, a symbolic transfer ceremony will take place on August 6, 2021, at Colegio De La Salle’s opening school Mass, followed by a Covenant signing completing the connection between ministry and District. Br. Paul Joslin, FSC, who serves on the school’s Corporation, along with Br. Robert Schaefer, FSC, Visitor-designate will join Br. Dennis Lee and Mr. Alan Weyland for the transfer ceremony. In addition, DENA Brother, Edward Hofmann, FSC, will join the Brothers’ Community and school staff this school year, teaching English.

Opening School Mass
& Covenant Signing

August 6, 2021 at 10AM EDT

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Take a video tour of the K-12 school!

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Puerto Rico/DENA: a “new map”

Historical context, and a deeper look into the newest ministry of DENA, by Br. Paul Joslin, FSC

Puerto Rico/DENA: un “nuevo mapa”

Contexto histórico, y una mirada más profunda al nuevo ministerio de DENA, por H. Juan Pablo Joslín Patton

“Why is Colegio De La Salle (brothers’ community and school) in Bayamón, Puerto Rico becoming part of DENA?” is a question that has a rather long history. It is NOT a recent issue since the ultimate answer “has its roots in the outcome of the Spanish-American war of 1898.” Brother Ångel Suárez Ålvarez, a Cuban brother/founder of this Lasallian tropical mission presents this important fact.

For more than a century, the socio-political development of Puerto Rico is the responsibility of the United States. Since the end of the 19th century, Puerto Rico is an associated free state. In other words, Puerto Ricans are citizens of the USA. In 1898 its educational system, for example, became aligned with that of the Department of Education in Washington, D.C.

When the De La Salle brothers immigrated to Puerto Rico from Cuba in the early 1960’s, K-12 Colegio De La Salle was rapidly founded. This distinction makes it the only DENA educational establishment with such and enrollment. Presently there are over 700 male and female students attending this Bayamón school located in the suburbs of the capital of Puerto Rico or San Juan.

In addition to all that is involved in the daily life of Colegio De La Salle, the new administration (2019-2022) of Señor Pedro Rafael Hernández Palacios has had to deal with the after effects of hurricane “María” in 2017 (destruction of auditorium/gym Building); earthquake tremors 2020 and possible danger for students to be inside classrooms; and the long-term pandemic of March 2020 until at least the end of the 2021 academic year.

At one time Antillas (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Puerto Rico) formed its own district. For many years, DENA has been blessed with brothers of many nationalities including several Cubans: Franciso Martín; Miguel Campos; and Eduardo Salgado. The association between the Antillas and DENA has a long arm.
Since Vatican II, the number of De La Salle brothers has gradually decreased. Conversely the number of lay teachers has greatly increased. With the shrinking number of De La Salle brothers in the Caribbean, it became obvious that it was important for the Antillas district to rejoin with South Mexico. This took place in 2008.

In other words, if there were a need, brothers from South Mexico would become part of the Bayamón community. Or would they? Mexican Brother Guillermo Necoechea y Agueros (Neco) was the former “general director/chief administrator of Colegio De La Salle, Bayamón (2012-2018. Not only did he have innumerable problems getting an extended visa but he also had to face many obstacles getting his Mexican university credentials validated.

In addition, Neco was not “allowed” to receive a salary for his position as De La Salle’s chief administrator since he did not have the required legal documents necessary for this to take place. Successive administrators of the Antillas/Mexico-Sur District repeatedly got frustrated in their vain attempts to secure a permanent solution to immigration issues.

At one point, ICE (immigration and customs enforcement) officials arrived at the Bayamón community and told Brother Neco that he had to return to Mexico immediately and not come back to Puerto Rico for almost two years since he overstayed his visa (Neco’s immigration lawyer had advised him to do so). Being verbally abused and rapidly deported was not a positive experience for 70-year old Neco. Like everyone, he deserves much more respect.

Now what? Throughout his lifetime, John Baptist De La Salle faced many pressing local government and also ecclesiastical obstacles dealing with the establishment of schools for the marginalized. The fact that he retreats to Parmenie (1714-1716) indicates his need to change the direction in which to proceed.

In 2010 after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, Brother Dennis Malloy reached out to the Visitor of Antillas/México-Sur. The opposite took place after hurricane “María” in Puerto Rico. This time Brother Visitor Pedro Alvarez reaches out to DENA Visitor Dennis Lee. Many meetings resulted. In attendance were brothers: Visitor Pedro Alvarez; director of finances Paco Flores; Visitor Dennis Lee along with Mr. Alan Weyland who took the lead for DENA in patiently helping to draw the “new map.”

Brother Dennis Lee states that the “genesis of this new configuration came about as a result of the administration and staff at Colegio De La Salle – Bayamón. The idea came from the school itself or from the bottom to the top.”

Alan Expresses optimism for the “new” future when he says the following: “Since our initial visit to Colegio De La Salle in February 2018, the consideration that this Puerto Rican Lasallian educational community could become part of DENA has excited us with the mutual possibilities of educational and cultural dimensions. As our first one-campus K-12 school, we look forward to journeying together as we broaden the geographic boundaries of our Lasallian mission in the District of Eastern North America.”

During their brainstorming it quickly became apparent that a different approach certainly needed to take place to permanently improve the unstable conditions of this Puerto Rican establishment.

With the approval of not only the Mission Councils but also the District Councils and Brother Robert Schieler, superior general, Colegio De La Salle (Bayamón – Puerto Rico) and the District of Eastern North America (DENA) will officially unite in an opening Mass and ceremony at the beginning of Bayamón’s new academic year on August 6, 2021.

The chief administrator of Colegio De La Salle, Señor Pedro Rafael Hernández Palacios, voices the same sentiments as Alan Weyland when he eloquently says that he has “high hopes that this union will be a great opportunity for mutual development and interchanges: academic; administrative; cultural; and linguistic, in particular.”

This “new” Puerto Rican/DENA ministry will soon celebrate its 60th anniversary (1962-2022). May we continue to “bloom and grow.”

St. John Baptist De La Salle: pray for us.

Live Jesus in our hearts: forever.

“¿Por qué el Colegio De La Salle (comunidad de hermanos y escuela) en Bayamón, Puerto Rico se van a convertir en parte de DENA?” es una pregunta que tiene una historia bastante larga. NO es un asunto reciente ya que tiene una historia bastante larga. Ni es un asunto reciente ya que no tiene una respuesta única. “Tiene sus raíces en el resultado de la guerra hispanoamericana de 1898.” El hermano Cubano Ángel Suárez Álvarez de 86 años, uno de los fundadores de esta misión tropical Lasaliana, presenta este importante hecho.

Durante más de un siglo, el desarrollo sociopolítico de Puerto Rico es responsabilidad de los Estados Unidos. Desde el final del siglo 19, Puerto Rico es un estado libre asociado. En 1898 su sistema educativo, por ejemplo, está alineado con el del departamento de educación de Washington, DC.

Cuando los hermanos De La Salle emigraron a Puerto Rico desde Cuba a principios de la década de 1960, rápidamente se fundó el Colegio De La Salle. Ahora lo convierten la única comunidad educativa de Puerto Rico/DENA con matrícula K-12. Actualmente se atienden más de 700 estudiantes en esta escuela de Bayamón ubicada cercana a la capital de Puerto Rico, San Juan.

Además de todo lo que está involucrado en la vida cotidiana del Colegio De La Salle, la nueva administración (2019-2022) del señor Pedro Rafael Hernández Palacios ha tenido que lidiar con el huracán “María” en 2017 (destrucción de auditorio/edificio de gimnasio); temblores del terremoto 2020 y posible peligro para los estudiantes de estar dentro de las aulas; y la pandemia a lo largo plazo de marzo de 2020 hasta por lo menos el final del ciclo escolar 2021.

Hubo un tiempo en que Antillas (Cuba, República Dominicana, Haití, y Puerto Rico) formó su proprio distrito. Durante muchos años, DENA ha sido bendecida con hermanos de muchas nacionalidades entre los que se encuentran unos Cubanos: Francisco Martín; Miguel Campos; y Eduardo Salgado. Su integración en DENA tomó lugar hace mucho tiempo. NO es novedad la asociación estrecha de DENA con el Distrito Antillas/México-Sur.

Desde el Vaticano II, el número de hermanos De La Salle ha disminuido gradualmente. Por el contrario, ha aumentado el número de profesores laicos. Con el número de hermanos De La Salle en el Caribe cada vez menor, se hizo evidente que era importante que el distrito de Antillas se consolidara con el sur de México nuevamente. Esto tuvo lugar en 2008.

En otras palabras, de existir la necesidad, hermanos del sur de México se formarían parte de la comunidad de Bayamón. ¿Serían ellos? El hermano mexicano Guillermo Necoechea y Agüeros (Neco) fue el antiguo “director-general”/administrador jefe del Colegio De La Salle, Bayamón (2012-2018). No solo tuvo innumerables problemas para obtener una visa extendida, sino que también tuvo que enfrentar muchos obstáculos para que sus diplomas universitarios mexicanos se consideran válidos en Puerto Rico.

Además, a Neco no se le “permitió” recibir un salario por su puesto como director administrativo De La Salle ya que no tenía los documentos legales necesarios para que esto ocurriera. Los siguientes administradores del distrito de Antillas/México-Sur se frustraron repetidamente en sus vanos intentos de asegurar una solución permanente a los problemas de inmigración.

En un momento, funcionarios de ICE (inmigración y control de aduanas) llegaron a la comunidad de Bayamón y le dijeron al hermano Neco que regresara a México de inmediato ya que se había quedado más tiempo de lo que establecía su visa (por recomendación de su abogada). Ser acosado verbalmente no fue una experiencia positiva para Neco, de 70 y pico años. Como todo el mundo, se merece mucho más respeto.

¿Ahora qué? A lo largo de su vida, Juan Bautista de La Salle se enfrentó a muchos gobiernos locales presionando y también a obstáculos eclesiásticos que tratan con el establecimiento de escuelas para los marginados. El hecho de que él se retira a Parmenía (1714-1716) indica la necesidad de cambiar la dirección en la que se procederá.

Después del desastroso terremoto en Haití (2010), el hermano visitador Dennis Malloy se acercó al visitador de Antillas/México-Sur. Al revés sucedió después de huracán “María” en Puerto Rico. Esta vez el hermano Pedro Álvarez hizo acercamiento dando inicio al visitador de DENA a unas reuniones.

Asistieron los hermanos: Pedro Álvarez (visitador de Antillas/México-Sur); Paco Flores (director de finanzas de Antillas/México-Sur); y Dennis Lee (visitador de DENA) junto con el Señor Alan Weyland (DENA) ha estado muy involucrado en tratar de resolver una gran cantidad de asuntos relacionados.

El Hermano Dennis Lee dice que el “génesis del asunto vino de la escuela si misma o de abajo para arriba.” Esto es un hecho muy importante.

Alan expresa una opinión intuitiva por la “nueva travesía” de Puerto Rico/DENA cuando dice lo siguiente: “desde la primera visita al Colegio De La Salle en febrero de 2018, el considerar que esa comunidad educativa puertorriqueña pudiera llegar a ser parte de DENA nos ha emocionado mutuamente porque existen posibilidades no solo en la dimensión académica sino que las existen a nivel cultural también. Como nuestra primera escuela K-12, miraremos hacia el futuro juntos nuestra evolución de la misión lasallista en Puerto Rico/DENA.”

De todos modos, durante la lluvia de ideas rápidamente se hizo evidente que realmente se necesitaba un enfoque diferente para mejorar permanentemente las condiciones inestables de esta comunidad. Históricamente es algo que hizo el fundador en Parmenía a principios del siglo 18. En consecuencia y con la aprobación no solamente de los consejos de la misión y también los consejos distritales sino también el superior general, el Colegio De La Salle (Bayamón, Puerto Rico) y el distrito del este de América del Norte se unirán oficialmente con una misa y ceremonia de apertura al comienzo del nuevo año académico de Bayamón el 6 de Agosto de 2021.

El administrador jefe del Colegio De La Salle, el Profesor Pedro Rafael Hernández Palacios, habla por todos nosotros cuando elocuentemente dice qué tiene “grandes esperanzas de que esta unión sea una gran oportunidad de desarrollo de intercambios mutuos: académicamente; administrativamente; culturalmente; y linguísticamente, en particular.

Este ministerio “nuevo” Puerto Rico/DENA pronto celebrará su 60 aniversario (1962-2022). Qué podamos seguir “floreciendo y creciendo.”

San Juan Bautista De La Salle: ruega por nosotros.
Viva Jesús en nuestros corazones: por siempre.