Adapted from an article by Ms. Ana Rodriguez Soto for The Florida Catholic
On February 4, 2020, the La Salle Educational Center, founded in 1991 by a group of alumni from Lasallian schools in Cuba, ceremonially transferred its covenant relationship from the Christian Brothers’ Antilles-South México District to our District of Eastern North America (DENA).
La Salle Educational Center serves low-income families who work in the agricultural fields of southern Miami-Dade County. It cares for children after school as well as on school holidays and during the summer, helping them with homework and providing extracurricular classes in art, science, computers, and even sewing. It also provides young people with opportunities to play sports, receive vocational training, and religious instruction. The center goes beyond serving young people by offering their parents classes in English instruction, computers, parenting, health and nutrition. La Salle Educational Center currently serves approximately seventy-five families—a total of four hundred individuals.
“This center is a dream. It’s a dream that flowered from the Lasallian spirit,” said Fr. José Joaquín Espino, who spearheaded the center’s founding more than 25 years ago, and is currently president of the La Salle Center’s board. He added that the goal of the Lasallian charism, is “the formation, the education of young people that they might have a bright future, and a future full of hope.”
The La Salle Educational Center technically joined DENA on January 1st of this year. This formal commitment to continue educating the students in the Lasallian tradition and spirit is driven by DENA’s Strategic Plan, most especially to grow avenues in its service of the poor. The geographic and administrative realities that created challenges for the Brothers of the District of Antilles-South México also made the Center’s transition to DENA more ideal. La Salle Educational Center is DENA’s first association with an after-school program.
“You are helping us break new ground together,” said Br. Dennis Lee, FSC, Visitor for the District, during the Covenant signing ceremony.
“I am confident that the mission of La Salle Educational Center will be strengthened through new bonds with the District and with our fellow Lasallians in Eastern North America,” said Mrs. Monica Lauzurique, director of the center. Mrs. Lauzurique feels a very personal tie to the work done at the center, as she herself is a lifelong Miamian, born to Cuban parents, and an alumna of Immaculata-La Salle High School.
She added, “La Salle Educational Center will also benefit from a closer connection to our fellow DENA ministry, Saint John Paul II Academy in Boca Raton.” The high school’s students will continue to have opportunities to visit the center. While volunteering in the Center’s programs, Saint John Paul II students have learned first-hand about the lives of the families served, the everyday realities of their agricultural work, and what it means to them for their children to receive a human, Christian, Lasallian education.