There is a hidden gem in the District of Eastern North America—a small team in our District office who work tirelessly on multiple levels to keep the Founder’s vision alive.
As the educational mission of St. John Baptist de La Salle spread, and his schools began opening across France more than three hundred years ago, he realized that they could not be connected in name only, or his vision would not be realized. He traveled extensively, even when he was in failing health, to visit each Brothers’ Community and school (which in that day were conducted almost exclusively by Brothers). This is why, even today, Brother Provincial is referred to as “The Visitor.”
While the role of the Visitor remains, providing support and enrichment to the spirit and zeal of the Brothers, the District of Eastern North America (DENA) created a department to assist the Visitor in providing the same support to the more than 5,000 Lasallian partners who lead and work within our schools, and to the students whom they serve. This is the District’s Office for Mission & Ministry (OMM).
Mr. Jim Logan, Director of OMM, tells us, “Our team strives to ensure the vitality of and fidelity to the Lasallian mission for the benefit of present and future generations of young people.”
The Office for Mission & Ministry supports, animates, and facilitates the Lasallian mission within the diverse educational ministries of the District. The Office also develops and implements both annual and ongoing formation programs and activities that enhance and highlight the individual ministry’s association within the broader Lasallian mission. We will attempt here to give you a brief introduction to many of their successful programs.
The annual Brother Luke Salm Religious Education Workshop seeks to enhance and support the Christian education and evangelization of the young by providing professional development for and accompaniment to the District’s Religious Studies instructors, Campus Ministers, and other Lasallian educators.
Following the long Lasallian tradition, each of our ministries appoints a faculty or staff member to serve as Lasallian Animator. So that they can animate (or bring to life) our Lasallian charism among their colleagues, the District provides information and resources to these important individuals, as well as establishing standards for local formation teams.
The DENA Directional Statement on Evangelization states that, “There is an urgency today to ‘set on fire’ the Lasallian Catholic evangelical mission within each of our educational communities.” The Faith Formation for Lasallian Educators program seeks to foster this goal with education for our Lasallian teachers about the fundamentals of Catholic belief, teaching, and culture.
The Lasallian Youth program provides a venue for our students, together and by association, to learn and serve the needs of their lives, schools, local communities, and world. Mr. Justin Martineau, Associate Director of OMM, tells us, “We provide moderators, information, and support, but this program is student driven. In each of our secondary schools, we meet the students where they are.”
Each year, a Spring Workshop focuses on job-alike personnel within our network (e.g. guidance counselors, admissions officers, or athletic directors) and provides the opportunity for colleagues from across the District to gather for professional development and strategic sharing, to foster a sense of purpose and Lasallian formation in their work.
The annual VEGA Conference is an exciting formation program for young Lasallian professionals ages 22 to 35, who wish to further their commitment as a Lasallian. This week-long, in-person gathering focuses on practical skills, formative and foundational Lasallian concepts, community building, and prayer.
A variety of in-person and virtual retreat experiences are offered each year. Some of the opportunities that have been provided include: a women’s retreat, a Legacy Lasallians retreat (for retired employees of our District ministries), an online personal Advent retreat, and virtual opportunities for centering prayer.
There are two exciting new projects in particular that look to have great impact on the vitality of our mission in the District.
First, the Adrien Nyel Project addresses the vocation of the teacher, who is the focus of Lasallian spirituality as a minister of God’s grace in the life of the students. This multi-faceted endeavor seeks to ignite a zeal for teaching among high school and college students and young adults, and invite them on a journey to discover the Lasallian charism and heritage.
Second, OMM has recently restructured its work with Boards and heads-of-school. Our Provincial Delegate for Board Governance will now oversee the new Association of Board Chairs & Presidents/Principals. This will provide a coordinated effort for support and training of both groups, and help build a unified mission-view between volunteer Board leadership and administrators at each of our ministries.
Lastly, OMM also helps our ministries, and the individuals therein, better understand that they are part of a global Lasallian network. Our District often partners with the Lasallian Region of North America, and with the Brothers’ Generalate in Rome, in promoting and supporting Regional and International programs. The OMM acts as a conduit between our ministries and these partners. One such program is Twinning, which matches each of our schools with a “twin school” in the Lasallian District of Lwanga in Africa. Another example is Lasallian Women of Hope, which was established to help address girls’ access to education globally in countries that traditionally deny this right.
The work of our Office for Mission & Ministry is vital to the ongoing life and growth of our Lasallian educational mission in this District and extending throughout the world. Please pray for their continued success.
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