Chief administrators and board members of Lasallian secondary schools in the United States and Toronto Region gathered in Charleston, South Carolina, from February 22-25 for their annual conference. They were joined by the Regional Education Board and District leaders in the Region.
The formal creation of the Lasallian Secondary Schools Chief Administrators Association (LASSCA) in February 2008 marked an important step in strengthening solidarity within a significant sector of the Region. Thus, it is fitting that the first gathering of chief administrators since the establishment of LASSCA focus on the theme of “Catholic Identity in a Lasallian School” by addressing mission, ministry and message.
Keynote speaker Michael Guerra, past president of the National Catholic Educational Association, stressed the role of Catholic schools as advocates of social justice. He cited Anthony Bryk, author of Catholic Schools and the Common Good, who writes that Catholic schools are not about self but about promoting the common good and raising the community. Their mission is to transform others and transform the world, Mr. Guerra explained.
In his address to the assembly, Vicar General Brother Thomas Johnson highlighted the evangelical aspect of the Lasallian Mission of providing a Christian and human education to the youth, especially the poor. He reminded the group that as Lasallian educators we need to teach students to have a deeper encounter with God, teach the young and teach the Church. How can we teach the Church? “Lasallians have a prophetic role in education,” Brother Thomas said. They have something to say about education and cathechesis. To have our voices heard, we must convene ourselves on national issues and be present in forums where decisions are being made.
Brother James Gaffney, president of Lewis University, shared his institution’s experience in messaging the mission internally and externally. Citing Thomas Friedman, Brother James advised chief administrators to “think big, start small and act quickly.” The message must be authentic, enduring, effective, relevant and motivational, creating an environment that touches hearts and making the culture of mission a lived reality, where faculty and staff see their work as mission.
At the LASSCA meeting, Brother Dennis Cronin, president of Bishop Loughlin High School, was elected to the LASSCA Board as vice president and joins Brother Michael Collins, immediate past president, and Ken Tedesco, current president.