Letter from the Visitor
30 April 2018 (the birth of Saint John Baptist de La Salle)
Two thousand nineteen marks the 10th birthday of our District of Eastern North America. As we prepare to move into our second decade the Brothers, through the Second District Chapter of the District of Eastern North America (2015), thought it prudent to assess DENA’s growth and chart a course for our future. The result is a strategic plan for the next three years that is summarized in this letter and detailed in the accompanying pages.
Building on our District’s position of strength, and intent on procuring God’s glory, I offer a BASE on which we will create our future. Each letter of that acronym designates an area of emphasis for which there is a strategic priority as indicated below:
Brothers’ Vocation—embolden all Lasallians to take an intentional role in the promotion of a culture of vocations to the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
Association/Formation—increase access and opportunities for all Lasallians to participate in Association/Formation programs.
Service of the Poor—create a bold, compassionate and practical Lasallian vision, on the District level and on the local level, of what it means to serve “especially the poor” having looked critically at existing practices and assessed current needs.
Evangelization—incorporate more deeply the ministry of evangelization into the responsibilities of those in governance, teaching, and administration, and also into the everyday life of students, clients, and their families.
Input from more than 1,000 people informed the work of the Strategic Planning Committee since that group’s initial meeting in June 2017. I am encouraged by the involvement of so many Lasallians via focus group conversations, survey participation, Community Annual Plan worksheets, and committee discussions. The Spirit is indeed alive in our midst!
Let us move forward together on behalf of the young people entrusted to our care as we respond to the needs of DENA and of our society.
May our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, guide us as we continue on our journey!
Brother Dennis Lee fsc
The Second Chapter of the District of Eastern North America (2015) unanimously approved the following resolution:
DENA Leadership (Visitors and Councils) shall appoint a committee and engage a consultant to lead the District in a comprehensive strategic planning process; a report and preliminary plan be due to District Council in January 2017 and the plan finalized for the first District Council meeting in the Fall of 2017.
The Chapter recognized that the needs of the District in the areas of mission, community, and religious life are dynamic and many external factors in the Region and Institute impact DENA.
Furthermore, the Chapter approved the Directional Statements proposed by the 2015 Mission Assembly that established the three areas of Evangelization & Catechesis, Service with the Poor through Education, and Living the Charism in Association for Mission.
Early in 2017 it was decided to adjust the timing to line up with the term of the next Brother Visitor and so the strategic planning process began in June 2017. It was also decided that the time frame for this plan would be the 2017-2021 term of the Visitor. Brother Dennis Lee, the incoming Visitor, invited ten other persons to the committee which was comprised of:
Thomas Casey fsc – Auxiliary Visitor, DENA
Joseph Juliano fsc – Director of Administration, DENA
Matthew Keough – Principal, Christian Brothers Academy – Syracuse NY
Sarah Laitinen – Director of Lasallian Programs, Lasallian Region of North America
Jaime Longo phd – Executive Director of Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning, La Salle University
Jeffrey Mancabelli – President, St. John’s College High School
James Martino fsc – President, Ocean Tides School
Marisa Passafiume – Assistant Vice President, Academic Success Center, Manhattan College
Benjamin Ventresca, Jr. – Board Chair Emeritus, La Salle College High School
Anne Kemp – Consultant/Facilitator, Berkeley Developmental Resources
It was recognized at the start of the planning process that several elements of strategic planning are being addressed in recent financial structures, organizational structures, and the Brothers’ physical & pastoral needs. The primary concern for the current planning process is the ongoing viability and vitality of the Lasallian mission and charism as it relates to both Brothers and Partners-in-Mission. It is understood that the plan is a “District as a whole” effort and that the principal outcome is to answer the question “How can DENA support each ministry in fulfilling the Lasallian mission?”
The committee reviewed the aforementioned District Chapter resolution as well as the Mission Assembly Directional Statements and synthesized the data into four categories: Brothers’ Vocations, Association/Formation, Service of the Poor, and Evangelization.
Process & Stakeholder Participation
The committee met monthly since June 2017. At every step along the way, they reached out to Lasallians in ministries and at the DENA office to engage them in helping to fully understand what has been accomplished in the past and the current issues that most need to be addressed through the strategic plan.
Sub-committees were formed to address each of the four categories. Exploration of each area began by inviting the participation of a number of people who collectively brought historical knowledge, best practice, and practical issues they are facing into the conversations.
This process was followed by a series of focus groups and an online survey. The focus groups were conducted at the following events/locations:
DENA Brothers’ CAP (Community Annual Plan)
Brother Luke Salm Workshop
John Johnston Institute
Christian Brothers Academy – Syracuse NY
St. John’s College High School
Brothers in Initial Formation
La Salle Academy – Philadelphia PA
Huether Lasallian Conference
Focus group attendees were very engaged and enthusiastic in their participation. The survey was accessed by over 500 persons.
Criteria for Determining Strategic Priorities
The Committee also discussed the criteria that would inform the decisions about priorities of the plan:
Responses to the world/needs around DENA
Stakeholder readiness in ministries
Important progress for DENA’s mission and purpose
The Visitor’s vision and priorities
DENA has the resources to support next steps
Priorities and Goals & Tactics
For each of the four categories (Brothers’ Vocation, Association/Formation, Service of the Poor, and Evangelization) the strategic priority for the next three years is identified. Key goals and tactics are articulated. While the planning and stakeholder engagement process produced a significant number of needs, hopes, and ideas that could be assessed or implemented in the short term this plan seeks primarily to address those of strategic importance.